My wife, Nicoleta, and I were just beginning our life together in 1989. We lived in a 160-square-foot apartment in a factory-owned building. It was very small, but the communist government had promised a larger apartment.
Then came December of that year, and with it the fall of Nicolae Ceausescu's regime. Government money for new housing programs disappeared, and our hopes for a larger apartment disappeared. High inflation and unemployment plagued the nation. Even though Nico and I are both university-educated engineers, we were unable to improve our housing situation.
We made do with the one room for several years, learning to get by with just a small sink and tiny stove. We shared a shower with 17 other families and a toilet with two other families. As the economy got even worse, the factory turned off the building's heat and hot water.
In 1999, we became one of the first seven Habitat homeowners in Beius. In two years of working together [the homeowners] erased all kinds of differencessocial, cultural and religious. What exists between us now is that we accept and understand each other.