Maria, January 1, 1930  88 years old

I was born here in this village in 1930 into a decent family; I remember the Great War (World War II), the famine, everything.  My whole life I took care of my family and cleaned other people’s houses to survive.

The love of my life died about 20 years ago; together we had four children. One of my boys died a few years ago; one daughter lives in Chisinau (the capital of the nation), but she’s also very old now and can no longer visit. My other two children live in Italy.  They’ve found better lives, I think, and forgot about me. I haven’t heard from them in years. To be honest, I don’t know if they’re alive or dead now.

My one sister is still living, but we are both so old we cannot visit each other.

Now, I’m 88 and can’t hardly leave my bed. Just one kind woman from the village helps me around sometimes. I need help and I miss having friends.  My pension [retirement & social security] is just $47 per month. Life is cruel and hard, and it’s a miracle I’m still alive, though I pray God lets me die because of these struggles.