There are some decrepit old houses in Mărășești, with leaky roofs, tumbledown walls and broken windows.

These old houses lack plumbing, gas, and in some cases, electricity. They are often overcrowded and badly maintained. Many belong to gipsy families.

On our most recent visit to Romania we were surprised to see quite a lot of new houses being built. At first we assumed that the owners of these new places had worked for many years in another country in order to save up enough money to build a new place. We know people who have done this, and others who are currently working for this purpose.

We were told otherwise. Many of these new houses belong to dishonest gipsies who have developed a scam to get money from the governments of various countries.

Not all gipsies are dishonest. We know one gipsy who is both a builder and the leader of a local church. He was offered the chance to participate in this scam, but when he heard the story behind the new houses he refused to have anything to do with it. Costel is honest, and would prefer to live in honest poverty than dishonest luxury.