Demeter Laszlo was born and raised in the Romanian village of Belin. Although he grew up in a farming family, by the time he was an adult, poor cropland and inefficient agriculture techniques forced him to find a different way to earn a living. Demeter left his village and young wife to work in an underground copper mine.
As Demeter toiled away in the dark, harsh conditions of the mine for a meager salary, he earned enough money to purchase a small plot of land and a humble house, where his wife raised their four children and where Demeter occasionally visited. Being away from his family wore on Demeter, so he tried, without success, to find work closer to home.
After 15 years of mining, Demeter developed lung disease and was forced to retire. Fortunately his pension covers his daily medicine, but he still has a family to feed.
In November 2013, Demeter discovered the Animal Breeders Association in Belin–a group that told him about Heifer Romania and a project called Chance for All. After his application was approved, Demeter and his family participated in group trainings where they learned modern farming methods and excellent hygiene practices. Once trained, they were ready to welcome a new member into their family–a pregnant Irish Holstein Friesian heifer they named Rosa.
Of the 53 heifers delivered to new families in Belin through the Chance for All project, Rosa was the only red one. All the others were black and white. Demeter says she’s the “best looking cow in the village.”
Rosa seems to love her barn, which the Laszlo family prepared before her arrival. She gives her family up to 18 liters of milk a day–more than enough to meet the family’s nutritional needs. They sell the surplus to the local milk collection center.
The Laszlos use Rosa’s manure to fertilize their small garden, where they plant maize, alfalfa and fodder for Rosa, and grow fruit and vegetables for family meals.
“Our living conditions have improved considerably since receiving Rosa,” Demeter says. “When we have increased the number of these high-quality breed cows, we will start working on accomplishing our dreams.” These dreams involve expanding the farm so that it is large and diverse enough to support the family.
Today, Demeter, a miner-turned-farmer, and his family work outdoors from early in the morning until late at night to cultivate their dreams. Finding Heifer Romania and the Chance for All project has given the Laszlos and many other families the tools, confidence and determination to step out of poverty through hard work, full participation in their family businesses, and continuous opportunities to learn.
Give the gift of Heifer and make dreams come true.
Story by Laura Manciu, Communication and PR Coordinator, Heifer Romania
Photo by Gheorghe Abrudan, Field Assistant, Heifer Romania