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A Special Family Support Program Update :

Eliminating Poverty and Social Exclusion


One of our supported families has been living for years in a bleak Roma slum which is ridden with poverty, disease and violence.

The Otvos family has never received a helping hand and parents Piroska and Tupe were born into extreme poverty. Before moving to a shack in the slum the family, with their two small children, had endured homelessness and despair. 

In January Open Hands felt compelled to intervene and we sent our worker Olga Kalusi, escorted by police, to visit the family in the slum. Until then the family had lived on the very margins of society. They lived without the very basic means for survival, in degrading circumstances without a sanitary system (one broken water pump for 200 people), necessary education or health care. They also frequently experienced racism from the Romanian community and their two children Miklos (6) and Istvan (3) lacked food and clothing. Many children in this slum receive no education and will never know what it means to live a ‘normal’ life.

                              Miklos (6) growing up in the slum

Olga, a Romni herself, understanding the plight of her people began acting as our mediator, building a bridge between the Roma and Romanian community. The Open Hands Family Support Program enabled doctor visits and a regular healthy diet for the children, as well as advocacy (ensuring social benefits, applying for identity cards, etc.).

                                                The families old house 

However last week, Open Hands was able to offer the family a whole new start. I am thrilled to tell you that we were able to integrate this family into a safe Romanian neighbourhood where we found a beautiful home for the family.

                                Moving to a new beginning

From left: Andrea van Hoven (Open Hands trustee), Tupe & Piroska with their boys, Rebekka Maughan (trustee Open Hands), Olga Kalusi (Open Hands Support Worker)
Pictures below: Istvan & Miklos playing carefree in their new garden

This home, which Open Hands is renting, will be a transition home. It has been a challenging process to find a landlord willing to allow Roma living in their property. If our funds allow and this pilot project is successful we would like to buy this house next year and use it as a transition home to help many more families finding their feet & escape extreme poverty.

In the new home Olga will continue teach the family to become self-sustainable, enrol the children in school and nursery, offer counselling, teach parenting skills and support the father in search for employment. Even though Open Hands pays the rent, the family is responsible for utility bills. However, Olga will continue to work with the family to help them gain confidence and become independent.

Above: Seeing her new home for the first time - A joyous moment for 8 months pregnant mum Piroska.

Picture below: The family after their moved in.

Asking the family to pack up their few belongings and leave their shack in the slum behind has been one of the most rewarding moments since Steve and I founded Open Hands. To show the family their new home where their children can now play safely outside and in which the family can live free from despair and fear fills me with incredible joy. Both parents, for the first time in their life, can see a chance to provide a better future for their children and are overwhelmed with thankfulness to Open Hands and our sponsors who gave them this opportunity. Little Miklos and Ischtvan will now be able to go to school and the circle of poverty will be broken for this family.

Without our involvement this family would never have had the chance to escape their dire situation. Working with this family has encouraged us to help more young families out of the slum. As we continue to expand and new families come and ask us for help, we ask you to consider making a donation to enable us to transform even more lives.

Thank you for your continued support,

Rebekka Maughan


“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13: 34-35

    Our mailing address is:

Open Hands, Spindle Tree Cottage, Stockland Lane, Hadlow Down TN22 4EA

   Telephone: 01825 831851


For more infomation about Open Hands & our work in Romania please visit our website:
Registered Charity No.: 1136482
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