After freezing and starving to death on the streets of Bucharest as a teenager, Radu Petre, has set up two NGOs for the gamins and the animalsâ protection.
The trauma of his childhood on the streets made Radu Petre donate his house in the country to the poor children. The representatives of the Child Protection in Arges see him as an impostor. However, Radu believes in his mission and he is looking for sponsors for the childrenâs house everywhere.
Radu Petre, 52 years old, was born in Bucharest, his father died when he was a child and, at the age of eighteen, his mother died too. He lived on the streets, he suffered from hunger, coldness and loneliness. He graduated from a trade school in 1975. There he studied electronics. He was deployed in Arges, where he got married. After 30 years of work at the Arges clothing manufactory, Radu Petre was fired. The reason? "In June 2004 I ran for mayor and the manager of the manufactory, Marian Nitulescu, fired me in exchange for a land of the public domain from the former and present mayor. They fired me because I defended the rights of some children and dogs", the former gamin says.
Five years ago, Radu petre set up two associations, one for the gamins ("Sun Smile"), and the other one for the animalsâ protection (AG Souls). The activity of the NGOs has permanently disturbed "the interest groups" around the public funds for the children and animalsâ protection. At first, Radu Petre donated his house in the country to his own association, to the people without shelters. Afterwards, tens of poor people came to "Sun Smile", which is inexplicable for the representatives of the Child Protection.
The first people that got into the house of his association were two minors from the Orphanage. Radu Petre helped them finish school at the "Vlaicu Voda" High school in Curtea de Arges. Then, Mihaela, 31, mentally ill and raised in an orphanage, came to "Sun Smile" and lived there together with her three children until three years ago. Another mother that came to this house was Nicoleta Grigoroiu, who ran from home together with her three daughters because of her alcoholic husband. Sandu, an orphan in Arges, died in a hospital last year, but he spent the last months of his life in the house of Radu Petre. "He was only 29, he was paralyzed because someone had stubbed him in his spinal cord. The only ones that took care of him were his brother and a woman in the village. They used to come to the Associationâs house to visit him", the founder of the Association remembers.
The president of the two Associations often comes to Bucharest where he looks for sponsors and support from the President. "I ask for their mercy. There were people who said they would give us some pudding, some others promised to give us some paint. We need two more doors and some wood. The food comes at last", the president of the association says. Brigitte Bardot sends 500 kg of food for the 20 dogs once every three months. The association was founded in 2003. Ever since, the Arges County Council helped them with a woodcutter, the Arges General Directorate for Social Security and Child Protection (DGASPC) gave them food six times and their total value reached 500,000 lei. Moreover, the beginning of this year meant the annulment of the credential that allowed the "Sun Smile" to host children from the streets. "I was supposed to renew the credential in 2005, but I didnât have 30 million lei for the authorizations from Sanepid and from the firemen. This money is enough for me to feed the children for one year", the former gamin makes a quick computation.
His family immigrated to Italy. His daughter, 28 years old, and his son, 30 years old, have both become Italian citizens, and his wife has just filed for it. "I could go to Milan tomorrow if I want to. I could sit on a terrace, drink some Sicily wine and work just to be able to live. I told my family I will not leave Romania until I make a house for the gamins". For now, DGASPC decided not to pay for the supplementary allowances for the children hosted at "Sun Smile". "They have budgeted billions for the construction of new centers for the orphans - all the ones in their system will benefit from these funds. They donât want to give one leu to a house that has already been built. This is how they are. If you are not part of their Mafia, you get nothing", Radu Petre says. He has recently started to negotiate for some supplies from the Red Cross in Milan and from the Rivanazzo City Hall, in the Lombardia Province.
Last summer, DGASPC Arges sent a written request to "Sun Smile" for the association to host Erika Guriuc and her four children. Radu Petre welcomed them but found out that DGASP did not pay the allowance for them because the little girls were staying together with their mom. "I didnât want to send my children to the Orphanage, because I know how they treat them there. I preferred to stay on the streets until we got to Mr. Raduâs Association", Erika says. Exasperated by the authoritiesâ inconsideration, Radu Petre helped Erika set up the files for the children to receive the rightful money. "The Constitution says the state has to take care for its citizens to have a decent life standard. I will set myself on fire in front of Basescu if no Presidential Commission comes to see the irregularities at the Arges Child Protection", Radu Petre promises. The Arges DGASPC representatives believe he is mentally ill and stopped paying any attention to him.
Translated by SORIN BALAN