Portrait of the month : Răzvan and Irina, companions in Iași and in Popești (Feb. 2018)

Răzvan and Irina, companions

Irina and Razvan Portrait of the month february 2018 - Emmaus Iasi RomaniaRăzvan is companion in our residence of Popești, and Irina is companion in Iași. With our volunteer Leïla, they have gone in the Emmaus community of Satu Mare where they stayed one week. They got involved in the activities and they observed how this “other Emmaus” is working.

They told us about their stay and their life before Emmaus.


How was your stay in Satu Mare? What can you say about the organization there?

Răzvan: The Emmaüs community of Satu Mare doesn’t look like Iași nor Popești. There, it is totally different. Compared to Popești, the big difference is that they live in the city, while we live in the countryside. It counts a lot. But in Iași, which is a city, it is also very different compared to Satu Mare. I like this community. If I have the opportunity to return, I will.

Irina: Wah! It was very good. Companions, same. Managers, same. There is communication between them. How can I say? Travail travail (work work, in French in the texte, editor’s note).


What is different?

Irina: It is a bit different. Well, in fact it is very different. Concerning the companions, for example. There, it is calmer than in Iași. The labour relationships are not the same.


What did you do there?

Irina: I gave a hand at the crockery stand, to make place to put the products on the shelves. If I work at the crockery, I know how to arrange it. There, that was I did. Voilà! (there we are! in French in the text, editor’s note).


Which moment did you prefer?

Răzvan: My favorite moment in Satu Mare has been Paul’s birthday, who is a companion there. We had to organize ourselves a little. I have been involved in the cakes and drinks preparation, with the people who were in the shop.

I keep talking with the companions of Satu Mare, and they ask me “When do you come back? When do you come back?”.

Irina: I liked the train very much. It was so long! We spent too much time in the train. We had three. I thought several times “there it is, we have arrived”. Well, we have not! One time, we were ready to get off. We did, with the luggages. Here the ticket inspector comes, he wants to close the door, you know? I pressed because I did not want the door to close. He told us: “Why do you get off? It is not here. Come on, go back up, you have to get off later”. So, we went back up. We slept again… then I said “well, I think I am going to go walking. They go by train, I go on foot”. I told myself I would be faster than them. (laughs)


Răzvan, do you want to talk about you?

Răzvan: I was born in Iași, I spent a long time in a children’s home. Before knowing Emmaus, I have been in a children’s home until I am 15 and a half. Then I met Laurențiu (who is now one of the managers in the Emmaus community of Iași, editor’s note). Before he came to Emmaus, he was social worker in the children’s home where I grew up. He helped me a lot there. Later, I went in a monastery during summer holidays and I met him again. And, when I told him I had no job nor a place to go, Laurențiu offered me to come in the Emmaus foundation, because I had to go back to school and I had no solution. It was my last year of high school and I had to sit an exam. I think it has been a very good decision for me.

At Popești, I am involved in the cooking, among other things. I like it very much.

I am so happy that I had the opportunity to be part of the project of Satu Mare. It has been a wonderful experience.

Except Satu Mare, have you been in other Emmaus communities in Romania?

Răzvan: No, only in Satu Mare. It was the first time. I would like to go to Târgu Jiu too. But I don’t know who from Popești will go. I would like to come back to Satu Mare, for example for an experience of one, two, three months…


And in other communities in Europe?

Răzvan: I already went to the Emmaus Salon of Paris, during two weeks in 2013, but I did not travel in the country. I liked this stay. I really appreciate when people from Emmaus come to Popești. For example, those I met in Paris, when they come here, they ask me to translate in French (Răzvan speaks French very well, editor’s note).


Where did you learn French by the way?

Răzvan: I took two French courses at the French Institute, here in Iași. Then I had to learn French at school, because I had to sit an exam of French language for the baccalaureat (a Romanian exam, editor’s note). Then, at Emmaus, I took courses. I have got a diploma.


Irina, do you want to talk about you?

Irina: I am a tramp. I don’t remember how long, but I lived in the street. When I finished the 8th level at school (14-year-old, editor’s note), I did a professional training. Then I arrived in Iași, in the train station. I stayed there. The first night, the policemen asked me from where I was. I told them I had finished school. “Don’t you have a place to go? Don’t you have a family?” “I do have a family, but they did not raise me. I grew up in the children’s home.”

Then I stayed in the neighborhood of Târgu Cucu in Iași. I found girls I knew already. I was bored, I wanted to do something, to find a job, and some bread. I went to the train station.

I was quite masculine. One night, I went in a bar. I asked the barman if I could help to do something, in exchange of a meal. He told me yes. He asked me some questions. He thought I was a boy, I told him “No, I am a girl. My name is Irina, and I live in the street.” I was sleeping behind the train station. A woman helped me, she brought me a mattress. I worked in a restaurant. I learned a lot there. I learned what was respect.


How did you hear about Emmaus?

Irina: In 2001, people came with some food. We were all at the train station. Then I met Gelu (one of the managers in the foundation, editor’s note). His mother, his family, had cooked meals for us. Horia House (the current community, editor’s note) was not built already. I came to live there in 2005.

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