A cow for a house

Moldova is known for its economic and political difficulties and for its struggle to get rid of the communist inheritance and learn democracy. Women’s trafficking is a problem common to poor countries, and Moldova does not stand as an exception to this. Many girls and young women are lured into the mirage of a better life with newspaper announcements like „Girls needed for dancing contracts in Western Europe”. Such advertising is taken seriously by too many naive girls, especially from the countryside, which end up trapped in human trafficking nets across the world. The ones that ever manage to escape are wounded for their whole lives.

Heifer Romania assists youth at risk groups in Romania and the Republic of Moldova. In Moldova a group of young women at risk in the village of Buteni are the beneficiaries of a dairy cow project, which introduces superior quality animals into the village and offers young women an alternative to leaving the country. Moldova has a frightening rate of people working abroad – a quarter of the country’s population.  

Nadia Garleanu, 20 is a young farmer living in Buteni village. Her 25-year old sister works as a clerk in a grocery in Chisinau, the capital city of Moldova. Her 26-year old brother works on the fields, together with their father. The family has 2 hectares of land on which they grow vines and fruit trees. Nadia and her mother take care of the house and garden.

The Garleanu family is among the poorest in the village. Besides some poultry, the only animal they owned was a cow, a most important source of protein for the whole family.
An unfortunate event happened in the spring of 2006, when the clay house the 4 people were living in collapsed due to an earth flow.



Nadia Garleanu and mother Nina in front of the collapsed clay house


The family had to sell their only cow in order to get the money to build a new house, this time a brick stone house on a more solid piece of land. The construction of the new house has started, while the family live in a temporary hut.

While happy for the new house that is being built, Nadia and her family missed the milk, cheese and veal the cow was providing. With no one earning a salary, the money raised from working 2 hectares of land was not enough to pay taxes, cover living expenses and assure quality protein for the family.
When Heifer Romania started the Dairy Cows for Women in Buteni village project, Nadia became one of the first beneficiaries of a quality heifer. Nadia is shy but hard-working, and is proud to be a part of a women’s group that are trying to make a difference in the life of the village. She no longer considers leaving the village to work in Chisinau with her sister, or even abroad.



Nadia Garleanu and mother Nina with Heifer cow


The Garleanu family are all hard-working people, who will not let the tragic event of the collapsed house break their strong will. While father and son spend their day working in the vineyard and on the field crops, mother and daughter are busy in and around the house. They have a wonderful vegetable garden, a sign of dedication and love of land.  

New house and collapsed old house with vegetable garden

The new house looks strong and solid. It will not fall again with heavy rains or earth flows. With fresh vegetables, some crops and especially milk, cheese and veal ensured by Nadia’s Heifer cow, the family will be able to rebuild their lives. And Nadia will stay in the village to help her family and take care of the household. Along with building materials bought with the price of a cow, there is so much more work to do, and the more helping hands, the better!   

Anca Oprita
Communication and PR Coordinator
Heifer Romania
June 2006



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