Leaving aside for a few moments the awful impact of the coronavirus, I want to give you a little more insight into the long-term challenges faced by families during the winter in Eastern Europe. Over the next few days, I will be sharing some of the striking differences between our experience of winter and that of many people in the Balkans. You may be surprised! Feel free to share this content with your friends…
Bob Northey, Communications Officer, TEN
A few days after Christmas, I noticed that a beautiful pattern of ice crystals had formed on my kitchen window – they were stunning. In contrast to my childhood, when the ice was sometimes on the inside of the window. This splendid creation posed little threat to my wellbeing. It’s generally agreed that winters in the UK are not as cold as they used to be. Nevertheless, when most of us wake up to frosty mornings or even a rare dusting of snow, we can easily stay warm by turning up the thermostat on our central heating.
I’ve a son in law who lives in the Balkans. Summers can reach 40 degrees Centigrade and winters can plummet to minus 20! Like most of his countrymen, Dejan plans well for the inevitable cold weather and each year buys a large supply of logs that will dry out in the warm September sunshine before being split by axe. This takes a couple of days and a further few hours to carefully stack the split logs ready for the winter.
The poorest people in Eastern Europe cannot afford to buy logs and will scavenge the countryside for firewood and almost anything that will burn. Their plight is grave. Heating a small stove is vital for cooking and drying damp clothing. Tens of thousands of families live in two-room shacks and struggle through the cold months of winter.
Imagine the joy of a poverty-stricken family receiving a free pile of logs or a bag of new clothing and blankets. This year’s donations to WinterHelp have already made a huge difference to families you are unlikely to ever meet.
An open fire or log burning stove in the UK is often thought of as an added luxury. For many families in Pristina, Kosovo, it’s an essential appliance. At Fellowship of the Lord’s People church, the team have worked hard to distribute firewood to 24 families in need.
Leonora Maloku in Kosovo tells me, “For many families, winter is about survival. It’s living with fear about tomorrow and waiting to see if somebody will care enough to help.”