One of the motivations behind the #FreedomTour was to meet with local NGOs that are already making a difference in the fight against human trafficking. We were blessed to stop for a couple of hours in Drobeta Turnu Severin and meet some of the staff and volunteers of Hands of Hope.

Situated in the south of Romania, one of the poorest and most needy areas of Romania, Hands of Hope started working in the villages around Severin 17 years ago. Their focus was from the beginning to work on community development. Their strategy and focus has been working with children hoping that through them they would make an impact in the families and communities. Many of the stories and pictures they showed us were heartbreaking. There was the story of a little boy who refused to join the other kids on the playground. When asked why he would not play with the other children he answered that he is starving. Or there was the story of an old lady that was bedridden. The staff found worms eating her flesh. Many of the children are uneducated. It was especially sad to hear about the gender inequality and how the whole context provided the context for exploitation.

Ramona, the director of Hands of Hope shared story after story. Even though the stories were hard to listen, hard to share, she spoke with hope and determination to persevere in their task. She spoke with enthusiasm about the 40 volunteers that are involved in the rural community development. They are currently involved in 6 villages around their city, bringing hope to little children and their families. Changes come slow, but they are certain. We learned with enthusiasm about the first rroma that graduated from college from that community.

Hands of hope is a special place. In 17 years they have accomplished many things. We learned that in the roma communities the words “I love you!” are verbalized by the husbands to their wives. Lives are slowly but surely being transformed.

The area remains a very challenging one with few job opportunities and without many long term partners Hands of Hope experience great challenges to meet the growing needs of the communities where they are involved. Nevertheless the volunteers are confident that God has many blessings prepared for them in the future.

We left feeling very blessed to have heard about the work Hands of Hope is doing. #FreedomTour is very interested in identifying and coming alongside efforts that are preventing human trafficking from happening. And Hands of Hope is doing just that. If you would like to hear more about them or if you are interested in partnering with them, please visit their website or Facebook page.