After a couple of close connections in Munich and Vienna, Scott and I arrived safely into Sibiu, Romania earlier today. The flights were followed by a one hour drive through the beautiful Romanian countryside towards the city of Medias. Along the way our panorama included medieval forts, grand church spires and idyllic pastoral scenes…hardly the type of place you’d expect to encounter the suffering of many orphans and street children.

Before arriving at the mission guesthouse, we visited two homes headed by families caring for orphaned and abandoned youngsters. These homes are overseen by one of our country partners, CAIRD. I will share a few of those stories after we get some well-deserved rest tonight.

I will mention now, though, that the first home was located in Copsa Mica, which just received the dubious distinction by the BBC as the “Most Polluted City in Europe.” Here, just a few miles away from where we are staying, are factories that are blanketing the skies with lead, cadmium and zinc. The level of lead alone in the water supply is no less than 1,000 times the safety limit. That puts new meaning into asking for your coffee leaded or unleaded.

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(Image: Rubber plant in Copsa Mica, Romania)

Health problems abound here, either from heavy metals poisoning or due to the countless other pathogens pumped into the surrounding atmosphere. It’s quite a contrast from the beauty and serenity that adjoins it and serves as its gateway.

The Romanian Government is not concerned with addressing the problem. The offending companies supposedly pay a few token fines each year but continue to transgress environmental restrictions and ethical concerns. Money is king. Lives are secondary or meaningless.

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(Image: A father and daughter walk the fields in Copsa Mica. A metals smeltering plant churns out deadly ashes in the background.)

The local slum community has many empty structures where squatters could reside. But the place is deemed so harmful to health that even the grossly impoverished of society run from the free abodes that are ready to be occupied.

It’s just another area of contrasts where the creation has been corrupted by those who have been given dominion over it. Deadly dust reigns down on land and lungs. Postcard scenes hide discarded children. Smiling faces cloak darkened hearts polluted by greed. And…yes…children pay the price dearly.