Contributions to the Better Homes Project from Altrincham, Plymouth & Holmes Chapel Methodist Churches

Mission (extracts from the FAST charity web site)
The mission of the Better Homes Project is to improve the lives of the poorest members of local Roma communities by providing them safe and reliable shelter in which their families can live in dignity and their children can grow in good health.  Together with the local authorities and members of the Roma community, FAST aims to provide new homes for families living in critical poverty in deprived rural areas in the local villages of Tarlungeni, Zizin, Budila, and Sacele.
The need
Many Roma in Romania live in functionally segregated settlements, on the outskirts of ethnically Romanian areas, in rundown or ramshackle homes that lack basic amenities such as plumbing or electricity, as well as insulation to keep them warm in the winter. The Better Homes Project addresses the need for safe housing in local communities, while employing members of the local Roma community to build this housing.
How the Project Works
Utilizing a team of local Roma construction workers, as well as FAST staff and visiting volunteers, we build simple, prefabricated homes in the community with pieces constructed in our local workshop. We use our knowledge of the local community, as well as input from local leaders, to select the families in greatest need. Families with many children in extreme poverty are at the top of our list. Construction of each home takes approximately two months. In the first two years since the project's inception in 2007, FAST built 20 new homes, and helped several other families obtain either the materials, labour, or financial support needed to build or add necessary improvements to their own homes.


September 2012

A team of people from Holmes Chapel Methodist Church spent a week in Sacele helping the Romanian charity FAST. They built a large garden house for the use of Roma children visiting the Welfare Centre.

ĎMurielís Kitchení built onto the Mission House in Tarlungeni with funds from Holmes Chapel has been completed and is now very busy.


September 2011 - Mission House now in use

These picture were taken by the team from Plymouth. It shows children using the Mission House in the Roma village of Tarlungeni.


August 2011 - 'Muriel's Kitchen'

Good progress is being made on the kitchen extension to the Tarlungeni Mission House. It is now finished up to the roof.   The walls have been insulated and plastered, and will soon be rendered and painted. The windows and door have still to be ordered, and the inside work (tiling, flooring, equipment, etc) completed.

July 2011 - 'Muriel's Kitchen'

About £2,500 was raised in memory of Rev. Kevin Johnson's mother, Muriel, who died earlier in 2011. It was decided to use this to build a kitchen extension to the Mission House in Tarlungeni.  It will be called 'Muriel's Kitchen'.

June 2011 - Altrincham Methodist Church

A team of seven people, led by the Rev. Kevin Johnson, were given three main tasks:  to build a kitchen and store room behind the church in ZiZin, to install an alarm system and paint the fence at the new mission house in Tarlungeni and to help with the children education programme in the Ziurel centre in Sacele. All three tasks were accomplished.

Kitchen and store room in Zizin:


Alarm system and painted fence in the Mission house in Tarlungeni:


May 2011 - Plymouth Methodist Central Hall

A team from Plymouth Methodist Central Hall, led by Margaret Smith concentrated their efforts on building the new Mission House (above) in Tarlungeni, the village where the Better Homes project has built 24 new homes for Roma families and their children.

September 2010 - Plymouth Methodist Central Hall

In September FAST had a visit from a team of nine people from Plymouth Methodist Central Hall led by Margaret Smith, who has been supporting and encouraging us for a very long time and has always been next to us in good and bad times. They stayed at FAST for one week during which they accomplished many wonderful things for families and children from Tarlungeni and left behind a happy and grateful family with nine children who now can enjoy a new home, many smiling and joyful faces of the children from Tarlungeni who came and spent time at Ziurel Centre.

The men from the team worked hard every day in the village of Tarlungeni, at a family with nine children who have started to build their own house but havenít managed to finish it. For some time they have been living in deplorable conditions, enduring the piercing cold during winter. At Vicutaís (this is the fatherís name) the volunteers set the ceiling in a room, they plastered and painted the walls, the laid laminated floor, they put windows and doors, they have installed a heating stove.

Meanwhile, the volunteer ladies planned and carried on activities at Ziurel for all children from Better Homes Project families. The children came organized in groups. The ladies gave showers to the children that needed to be cleaned, they gave them clean and new clothes, they played with them and did interactive games, they sang and danced, they played outside. With the children also came some of the mothers, which was a great opportunity for them to spend time with their children and us in a more relaxed and joyful climate.

It was a fantastic week for all of us, with a lot of work and good results. Vicuta and his family moved out in their new home, the children who came at Ziurel had a wonderful time in the company of our volunteers and enjoyed very much these moments. We thank to each member of the team, for your hard work and commitment!

May 2010 - Altrincham Methodist Church


For two weeks, Dean, Steve and I (Rev. Kevin Johnson) have been enjoying an amazing time as volunteers with FAST and in particular working with Better Homes. We came with all sorts of expectations, for me it was my third visit to Romania (but second time to Sacele with FAST), for Steve it was his second trip and for Dean, a first time visit to Romania. On our first Saturday, Daniel took us to visit Tarlengeni, the village where we would be spending our time. Having only been here less than 24 hours, I think the village and the situation that people live challenged all of us and left us wondering how we would cope. By Monday we had enough wood to begin fitting handrails in three of the new houses which were by now occupied. Firstly Simona's house where she lives with her family including her son Damien still recovering and undergoing further treatment for cancer, and only three years old! Then when we had completed we went next door to Forlica's house and fitted similar handrails.

In both these houses we felt that we had been warmly welcomed, allowed to learn something of the kind of lifestyle that exists, and also the needs of those who call Tarlengeni their home. By the end of our first week we had areal sense of achievement with four houses now with handrails fitted and new floors laid. Our second week started with us making 14 Wall Panels and 8 Roof Trusses at George's house, working alongside both him and Avram. It was great to see how Roma people like George and Avram are growing in confidence and bale to work on Better Homes to improve the lives of the people around them. Apart from being very knowledgeable about the construction of houses, they were both great fun to work with and we shared many happy times with them. Tuesday (day 2) all the woodwork at Georges was complete and delivered from Zizin to Tarlengeni by Avram's horse and cart. Day 3 saw the house constructed with Roof Trusses in place and with extra helpers from UK, quite quickly the inside walls were insulated and lined.

The family who are coming to live in this new house were watching all the work happening, offering to help and I think, waiting to move from their very simple house. We thank the team at FAST for their wonderful work amongst the Roma people, for the local people who made us so welcome, and we hope and pray that this incredible project continues to reach out and meet peoples needs, offering a new hope for the future.

Thanks to all and God Bless
Dean, Steve and Kevin