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Waynesboro woman never forgot the suffering

August 02, 1998

Waynesboro woman aids RomaniaBy RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer [enlarge]




WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Genovieva Beattie grew up in Lasi in northeast Romania in a persecuted Baptist family during the brutal regime of Nicolae Ceausescu, the country's Communist dictator.

She never forgot those days and the suffering of her people, especially the children.

Beattie, 47, now lives in Waynesboro, where she settled with her British husband, Stephen, 45, nine years ago. The couple was married in England in 1985.

Romania was one of the last Communist Bloc countries to gain freedom after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989. Ceausescu and his wife were executed in December of that year by the military.

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Romanians are struggling with democracy and conditions that are still difficult, Genovieva said.

She met Stephen when she was a young girl. He had come to Lasi (pronounced Yash) with 40 Bibles that he had smuggled into Romania. He met Genovieva at the Baptist church she attended not far from her home. Christians were often jailed for their religious activities by the government, she said.

Genovieva and Stephen met several more times during his Bible-smuggling trips until 1980 when she was forced to leave the country. She came to the United States as a political refugee, settled in Ohio and established a mission devoted to sending aid to the poor in Romania, especially children.

She met Stephen again when both were in Austria, and they fell in love. He was working in a mission and she was there seeking ways to send children's books she was writing to Romania.

She has written 11 books so far. Written in Romanian, they tell stories about children around Bible themes. She gives the books, and accompanying cassettes that provide the music for the stories, to Romanian orphanages and churches.

Stephen edits and lays out the books on his home computer.

Today, the Beatties' lives are totally involved in the Eastern Europe Aid Association which she established in 1985. They raise money for the mission by speaking at churches across the country and are usually on the road three months out of the year.

"We go anywhere we're invited," Genovieva said.

They met some people during a mission visit to Waynesboro and were encouraged to move here, Genovieva said.

"We work full time for the mission. The money we need to live on, and we try to live cheap, comes from gifts from people all over," she said. They live in a rented ranch house on Gehr Road.

They raise enough money to support an orphanage they established in Romania, which houses 39 children, and to send four to five trailer-truck loads of food, clothing and other necessities to help the estimated 100,000 children who live in about 600 orphanages, Genovieva said. Their emphasis is on helping children, but adults also benefit from the mission.

Items are stored in a barn near Waynesboro until enough is collected to make up a shipment. Volunteers from area churches sort, pack and load them on the truck. The latest shipment, including thousands of pairs of shoes Genovieva bought at bargain prices from a Reading, Pa., clearing warehouse, was sent out Thursday. It costs $5,500 to send the container by ship to Romania, Genovieva said.

"We're not a big organization but we do a lot of things with not very much money," she said.

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