Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Ļahu family

PHOTO DONATION: Andrejs Terentjevs

Recently we have met with families who we have been helping for years, and we have seen that nothing has changed. They live month to month on their social benefits, they don’t look for work and unfortunately their children are being raised with the same mentality. A new consumer society is emerging. We want to change this, even if just a little and therefore we are motivating these children and young adults to focus on their education and future development. We encourage them to think and act differently – to change the way they view life.
This is a different story. Zane Rautmane is a volunteer at the Gain-Latvija Jelgava field office, and she told us about the Ļahu family. We went to visit them together with the F64 photographer Andrejs Terentjevs.
The Ļahu family live on one of Jelgavas small streets. Aivars, the master of the house, came to greet us. His sons Pēteris and Dāvids welcomed us with curiosity. We entered their cosy kitchen and asked how they were, to which Pēteris replied “And what’s your name then?” :)
Una, their mother has baked us an apple pīrāgs (pie) and invites us to tea during which we slowly get to know each other. We brought the children some treats from Ādažu chips, and gifts of books and stickers from “Egmont”. The gifts are distributed at once as is usual in a large family.
We are at peace while talking with this family; we feel their warmth and the genuine love of a family.
Our meeting starts with Aivars showing us their greatest sorrow – the burnt ruin of their ceramic workshop. It was the family’s only source of income. Here they created pots and bowls, plates and trinkets. They employed many people from communities near and far.
The workshop burnt to the ground on the 14th December
The fire totally destroyed the workshop, and the products ready for sale at the Christmas market. This family is strong but tell us that without Zane’s support and friendship during the hardest times that they perhaps would have given up. But they have Zane, and also their neighbours who help each in their own way by bringing a jar of sauerkraut, or a kind word or suggestion.
Aivars is an invalid; last winter he suffered a heart attack. However, now he is sprightly and determined to achieve what he has started, to realise a dream - his own small business. Una has already started to write a project for submission to the EU small business support.
This family does not sit on their hands; they don’t complain or cry. They work and find ways to overcome this difficult time in their lives.
Their eldest three children – sons Zemgus and Robert, and daughter Ieva – have their own lives, they study and work. The youngest (9 year old Anna, 7 year old Dāvids and little 6 year old Pēteris) live at home with their parents. The eldest children help a lot and even from their meagre student allowance find money to send to their parents.
Una and Aivars have big plans – they will rebuild and renovate their workshop. Una knows that the workshop will be more beautiful that the previous one. It will be bright, with a tiled floor, big windows, and a larger space. She says “we are optimists! It will work out! Family is what helps us! These events unite us. When we are on our feet again we can help others. We want to rebuild the workshop not only for our use, but also so the local school and kindergarten children can attend lessons. So children who have special needs can work with clay to improve their physical development. A window has already been donated, so now we have only a few small things left :)”
The Ļahu family are keeping a growing list of people who have helped them, so they can thank them when the time comes.
We can also help!
The family asks for the following donations:
- Financial assistance to buy an electric oven (500 LVL)
- Building materials (screws, spatulas, insulation, tiles, plastering materials)
- Wood (for roofing and shelf repair)
- Windows and doors
- Electronics – e.g. a “fleksi” (the supermarket Maxima has given a gift card that the family used to buy a battery operated drilling machine), shovels, a wheelbarrow and similar items
The children like to play board games in the evenings. Anna enjoys drawing and would like to attend a drawing group but that costs 5 LVL a month. She likes to model and to dress dolls.
The boys are happy with cars, puzzles and books.
The family would readily go to a play or the opera.
Let’s help!

Our photographers
Aigars Rozentāls - LVL 8,- (31.01.11.)
Anonymous donation - LVL 30,- (31.03.11.) donations - LVL 12,- (12.07.11.)
Inga Bleiere - LVL 500, - (15.09.11.) for an electric oven
Ilze Oiguse - LVL 10,- (17.10.11.)

A big thank you to Karīna and the Riga childrens and youth musical theatre "Rībēja mute" for the tickets to the play "Velniņi" (little devils) and also for the payment of their transport to Riga!

March 2011 – with thanks to the Puppet theatre, the Ļahu children have been to the plays "Pepija Garzeķe" (Pippi Longstocking) and "Mazais Samurajs" (The Little Samurai). Their transport was also paid for.
We are still waiting for sympathetic people who can help the family with building materials!

April 2011
We received a letter from Zane Rautmane, the family’s guardian angel. Thank you to all the donors and those who support this family.

Let’s continue to help!
Thank you so much for your support and donations to the Ļahu family. This has not only helped them start the process of rebuilding their ceramic workshop, but has also given the family strength and encouragement.
3040.43 Ls have been donated so far, also a sink, roof window, paint, a window, wood and spatulas. Aivars removed most of the rubbish himself but the larger items were taken away when a special working bee was organised (see the pictures). They plan to build the roof and the floor with the donated funds, and they will organise building permits.
They have applied to the EU unemployment project for 2000LVL. A decision will be given in May.
A big thank you for your support,
Zane Rautmane"

September 2011
“With this letter we want to say a big thank you for the support and donations to the Ļahu family. We also want to tell about the status of the renovation of the ceramic workshop.
3040.43 LVL has been donated, and a sink, roof window, paint, a window, wood, spatulas, rolls of bitumen polymer materials and bricks. 1014.83 LVL has been spent and 2025.60 LVL remains.
Several working bees have been held to help renovate the ceramic workshop. Concreting of the floor and on top of the walls, the second floor has been covered and the wall structures have been built. The roof, including a chimney, has been built.
The roof still has to be sealed with the bitumen rolls, the drains need to be installed as does the flooring on the second floor. The internals stairs need to be built, the building still needs heating and plumbing. The interior walls need to be finished, the windows and doors need to be installed and the exterior of the building needs to be completed.
The submission to the EU unemployment project for 2000 LVL was rejected.
The Ļahu family is very happy about the ongoing work, and they say a big thank you to you all for the unexpected support and interest.

On behalf of GAiN Jelgava
Zane Rautmane

With thanks to the donors we have helped the Ļahu children start school.

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