Portrait of the month: Teodora, first companion of Emmaüs Iasi (August 2019)

This month we received the visit of Teodora, first companion of the Emmaüs community of Iasi. She is today in charge of a shop in an Emmaüs community in France. Her visit is the perfect occasion for us to ask her about her journey and her experience as a companion during the first days of Emmaüs here. Here is her testimony.

Hello Teodora, can you please introduce yourself and tell us how you found out about Emmaüs?

My name is Teodora. In 1997, I finished school and ended up on the streets. I stayed there three years until Juan and several French people bought the house on Horia street, where live the companions. The first one of the companions, it was me. Juan, it was him who came to meet us, we spent some time together, he was looking for people willing to get out of the streets. In 2001 I did a three-months internship in France, and in 2005 I met a man here, in Romania. I got married, had a child, divorced and now I am in France, where I work for Emmaüs.

What was your job in Emmaüs, back at the beginning?

The renovation of the house, the same job as the other guys. I didn’t want to cook, I wanted to be with the guys. After, they rented a shop, trucks came filled with goods to sell, we made some money so they could buy the premises. We also renovated the shop and we bought an apartment.

And what is your job now in France?

I’m in charge of the shop where we sell dishes. I’, the one who leads, I work with four volunteers, I write down the prices… with the others obviously, we all work together.

And what could you tell us about the beginning of Emmaüs in Iasi and its evolution?

It evolved so much, you wouldn’t recognize it! They have built a nice house, there are new companions. Us, the old ones, we were living rough. It evolved the right way. You can see there are people in charge, Florin and Gelu, you can see there are people that fight so we can have a better life, a different life. Nowadays, it is more flexible: companions can get married, have a child and still be part of the community, it is a big change. Us, we are the old companions: the old ones work, have a place to live, it is different, for them, for me as well. Each companion who leaves the community makes room for the others to come.

And you, what do you think about leaving the community where you work?

If one day I find something good, of course I will leave, but I would come from time to time nonetheless to give a hand. I wouldn’t give up on them because they stood by me so I too, stand by them. I grew up here, I was 20 when I joined Emmaüs.

Do you come back often to the community of Iasi?

Of course! I never forget. People here, they are my brothers, my sisters, they are my family.