By Pastor Jonathan Hauze
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Meet the Families
I met the Baceanu family outside a Giant Food Store. Their sign said "PLEASE HELP - FOOD." Marin, the head of the family, told me he was ashamed to be begging for food, but he had no other choice.
The Baceanu family are Roma — better known in America as "Gypsies," a word often considered an insult. The Roma have a unique culture that is often misunderstood by outsiders. Roma all over Europe have suffered centuries of discrimination and poverty because of their ethnicity. The Baceanus came to America to seek a better future for themselves and their children, but their journey has been a difficult one.
[Click on these links to learn more about the plight of the Roma : articles from Amnesty International ; Foreign Affairs ; Der Spiegel ; CNN .]
Marin (the father), Mirabela (the mother), Gustavo (age 17), and Suraj Baceanu (age 16) have been in process with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ever since their arrival from Romania in 2016. ICE took the parents' passports, leaving them with only photocopies. Marin must wear an ICE-issued ankle bracelet and report every other month to an immigration officer in Philadelphia. The family's master immigration hearing is scheduled for November 2017, but in the meantime they have no official authorization allowing them to find work in the United States. This is why they were reduced to begging when I met them.
Marin's brother, Ion Lita, is also an asylum seeker. Ion and his wife, Elena, also have children of their own, including a 3-month-old baby. Like so many generations of U.S. immigrants before them, the Beaceanus and Litas dream of finding a place where they can live and work together and provide for their children in peace and safety. For now, they must share a dilapidated row home in a high-crime neighborhood with five other families. Everyone sleeps on the floor and there is only one bathroom, with a leaky sink. There are flies everywhere because the landlord doesn't pick up the trash regularly. I've seen it with my own eyes.
How You Can Help
I am asking for your help in showing compassion and hospitality to the Baceanu and Lita families.
At the very least, I hope this campaign will raise enough funds to secure better housing and to help the Baceanus and Litas with food, clothing, medical care, and any other financial needs that may arise while they wait for their asylum case to be heard. All donations will be used to benefit these families, and I will personally administer the gifts on their behalf.
Our relationship with Marin, Mirabela, and their children has been a blessing to us. We have shared meals with them in our home, and we are honored to call them our friends. I invite you to join us in extending the hand of friendship to them by supporting this campaign. Any gift, no matter how small, will help to make a difference in their lives.
I am happy to personally answer any questions you may have.
Thank you for your generosity!
Rev. Jonathan Hauze
St. Paul's United Church of Christ
101 Worthington Road
Exton PA 19341
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