Portrait of the month : Ioana, companion in Iași (June 2018)

Interview with Ioana, companion in Iasi

Ioana Portrait of the month June 2018 - Emmaus Iasi RomaniaIoana, who is companion in Iași, is becoming a real globetrotter! She told us about her experiences in European Emmaus communities.

Let’s read her testimony!


Hello, can you introduce yourself?

I am Ioana, I am 28. Oh, I made a mistake! I am 30.

I am from the județ (ed: department) of Iași. I studied at the Brătianu and Pașcani high schools.

What do you do in the Emmaus community?

Cooking. Kitchen assistant. I clean, I peel, I cut, I lay the table.

You stayed three months in the community of Sion, isn’t it?

Yes I did, I went to Switzerland. It was A-MA-ZING! Great! Beautiful, very good. I worked for the Romanian, in other words, for our community, I prepared the merchandise (ed: the companions who leave three months in the community of Sion prepare the trucks sent to Iași from the community of Sion). When I had nothing to do for Romania, I worked for Switzerland. I went to donations, deliveries…

So you did deliveries?

Yes, I did!

Did you speak French?

No, I didn’t.

No? Not at all? Why?

It was Sam who spoke.

Who is Sam? A companion?

He is from Switzerland. I don’t know if he is a companion. I loved Switzerland.

What did you like most?

Everything! I can’t compare, because everything was good. I don’t know what to say.

Since the beginning until the end, everything has been ok?

Everything has been ok, great. Especially the managers from there.

So you understood a bit of French?

I did, yes, a little. I really liked Vincent, the director from there, I really liked them all. And Robert, Jeremy. I got on well with everybody. I didn’t have any trouble with anyone.

With whom have you been in Switzerland?

With Costel (ed: a former companion of Iasi).

How was it with him?

We got on like sister and brother. We didn’t have any trouble.

Did you go for a walk there? How was it, the mountain?

Yes, I went to the mountain. I went with Jeremy: me, Jeremy, his child.

Why did you want to leave Romania?

I wanted to know how it was abroad. I was very curious.

When you left to Switzerland, was it the first time you were leaving Romania?

No it wasn’t, the first time, I went to England, with Emmaus. To Cartlon. I stayed there one month and three weeks. It was fine too. And France was fine. In Paris. I went with Gelu, Florin, Costel, Clémentine… (ed: managers, companion and volunteer of the team Emmaus Iasi). I stayed one week or two, last year. Anyway, I liked it. I saw the Eiffel Tower. I loved it. Those three places were great: Sion, Paris and Carlton.

What did you do in England?

In England, I sorted clothes and donations. I sorted clothes: girls with girls, boys with boys, and dishes to the dishes area. I was with Vasile (ed: a companion of Iasi).

But I didn’t like so much Germany. I fell sick there. I didn’t like the food. With the manager, it was fine. But I was the only one from Iasi.

It would have been better if you had gone with another companion.

Yes, this way is better. When you leave alone… it is so hard! Even harder when you don’t speak the language.

Do you speak English? Did you understand the language, there in Carlton?

No, but I had Vasile there. He did speak English and he translated.

What about Switzerland?

In Switzerland I understood better. I understand French. Well, not very good. I understand but I can’t speak.

Do you wish to start French classes?

I would like to do, to learn and to be able to speak when I will go abroad.

Sure. We can do it, now you are here. So when you leave again, you will be able to speak French.

Yes, we can.

Would you like to visit other countries?

I would like to go back to Switzerland. And in England. But I want to go where I was. I loved it there. But the manager I knew is not there anymore, in England.

So now, what are your projects?

Cooking. And to stop Coca-Cola (laughs).

Do you wish to talk about you?

I come from a family where I worked as nanny. But I didn’t like it. I left from there, and I slept three nights where I managed to reach. Then I came here, in Emmaus.

How did you know about Emmaus?

By a girl who was here too. When she was living here, I was still at school. If she had not been here, I wouldn’t have known Emmaus. I have been lucky to meet her. When she told about Emmaus (she came to meet us, at school), she spoke good about Emmaus, that it was great here. You don’t stay on the ground, you always have heating. She told me about it. She told me that here, there are people who help you. And here, it is exactly the same as she told me. We, companions, are glad to be in Emmaus. Otherwise, if there had not been Emmaus, we would have starved to death. And I say thank you to l’Abbé Pierre, who created Emmaus. And above all to Gelu. We have to thank them. He helps us as much as he can. I always say thank you to him. I thank him also in this interview. He helped me a lot. He helped me to recover from a disease I had.

How did you learn to understand French? Did you take classes?

No I didn’t! Some French people came here. Timothée, Carole (ed: young French volunteers in civic service for one year in Emmaus Iasi), then other French people came to do volunteering sometimes. They spoke French between them, and I listened. Then there were Clémentine, Clara, Marie. Now you are here. And there are still more French people who come.

Did you stay in Popesti?

I went in Popesti, but I couldn’t stay long, because I had ears problem. During winter, I can’t stay there. There is a lot of wind and it is cold.

Do you wish to add something?

What can I say? If we open a topic, we can continue. I don’t know. I want to say again to people who helped us: Gelu, l’Abbé… l’Abbé Pierre. First: l’Abbé Pierre, Gelu, and all the amazing people who worked here. I really thank you. Hats off to you, I admire you.

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