Hip” stands for House Insulation Project. The project was born as a result of the Proton Foundation Global Shift trip in June 2013, when all those on the trip were able to see first-hand the living conditions of some families in the village of Poiana, Romania. Soon after our visit, we started attempts to make the winter months more livable for these families, one house at the time, by insulating and fixing their house. The families do their best to heat the house using wood, but most heat is wasted because the house is not insulated to cope with the harsh winters that can easily bring temperatures of -25 centigrade for weeks on end. In September 2013, we insulated the first house and this has given us a better idea of the real costs involved as well as the time frame necessary to complete the work.
July 2015: Just a few weeks ago, a team of 7 came from Derbyshire, England to help insulate a house. The youngest of their team was 17 and the eldest, 71. This was the first time the team had done anything like this before, but they wanted to give their time and resources to help a very needy family be warm this winter as well as increasing their homes aesthetic appeal. The owners of the house are an elderly couple with a daughter who has some physical disabilities, which means she cannot find work. Their collective income is below the minimum wage and they could not afford to insulate the house themselves.
The team started straight away and sooner learned how to fix the polystyrene sheets and then to plaster over them, eventually finish with painting the house. They did a fantastic job and as well as being involved in children’s work, they finished the house on time. The team loved their week in Poiana, and are going to try to raise the funds to come back next year and insulate another house. This team have been coming to Poiana for 8 years so they have the people of this community already in their hearts.
The family are so thankful to everyone for their generosity and for this opportunity to have this work done on their home. As well as helping this family, this project has spoken much to the community of Poiana. They have seen people volunteer their time and money, freely, something, that is a new concept in Romania. Another thing that is being spoken about here is that the majority of this team were women, and it is unheard of for women and girls to be involved in construction type work. This caused a bit of a stir with many of the villagers passing by so they could see the work being done.
This is the second time that Teen Challenge has sent a team to help us here in Poiana to insulate a house and we love having them here! These guys are hard working and so full of fun. Their lives have been totally transformed from a life of drug and alcohol addiction to being totally free from it all, and now they want to see other people’s lives being changed and they are willing to share what has happened to them with such freedom and honesty.
The family that the team came to help consists of a couple and their teenage son who has very bad curvature of the spine and has suffered an incredible lot over the years. The father’s mother has had breast cancer and has undergone many operations and chemotherapy over the past two years. The family have banded together in this tough time to ensure she got the treatment she needs. Unfortunately, that has meant that other things, like insulating their home, has had to take a back seat. So, the family are so thrilled and thankful for the insulation project and they saw something very special in the team from Teen Challenge. The impact of this house insulation is not only in keeping the family warm during the winter months but it makes the house look nicer and gives them a sense of pride and esteem which spurs them on to do more in their homes where they can.
The impact of the HIP project just keeps going and going – and we are thrilled, excited and encouraged to see where this project leads us and those involved with us.