For over 20 years, a priest from Valcea has been helping, human trafficking victims, poor children and lonely old people. Petre Veteleanu has realised he can do more than church duties and that he can actually bring good in the world.
In 2000 the priest, while on a trip to Italy has discovered that hundreds of Romanians who have gone to work in Italy have become victims of human trafficking. Together with a human rights association he walked the streets of Milano and after research they found human trafficking networks, some of them maintained by Mafia from Albania. The Mafia was taking young women from Romania and selling them in Serbia in a market.
From here, the women ended up in the streets of many European countries. The priest, along with the NAGA association has managed to take many women out of the streets and offer them housing and support in a shelter in Magenta. The priest stated that in Italy there were between 3,000 to 5,000 young women from Romania practising prostitution.
The priest has noted important facts- in many European countries you can still see beggars and prostitutes from Bulgaria and Serbia, however the majority of them are from Romania. The reason for this is because many Romanians who left to work abroad have been tricked and forced to beg by Mafia networks.
Despite these facts, Petre Veteleanu is optimistic. He believes the Romanian authorities should be an active partner in preventing human trafficking and the church should also offer support to the victims. He noted that working with the victims he discovered that if you get closer to them they will open up to you. The priest believes that if everyone gets involved, including the church and if everybody goes in the street to help the unfortunate, we will manage to stop these things from happening. He added that the victims will never come to you, but you have to go and offer help.
So far, the priest has opened a soup kitchen in Ocnele Mari town and in other locations in the area. 75 old people so far received daily food made in the church kitchen. The church also does their laundry and cleaning. Apart from this, a foundation from Valcea offers them free medical care, with doctors making house calls.
So far the government did not help the priest’s projects with any money. The priest mainly gets money for the projects from donations.