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Last Updated: Monday, 22 December, 2003, 09:08 GMT
In pictures: Christmas in a box
Pata Rat community
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Pata Rat is home to a small gypsy community in Transylvania, Romania. (Photos: Phil Coomes)
Factories behind Pata Rat camp
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Sandwiched between factories, railway lines and a garbage dump...
Father and daughter in front of their home
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...families scrape a living by scavenging for anything that can be sold at a local market.
Samaritans Purse truck
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Once a year the children of Pata Rat see Christmas arrive on the back of a lorry in the form of shoe boxes, stuffed full of goodies from people in the UK.
A child in Pata Rat
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From all over the UK more than 1 million boxes are collected and distributed around the world.
Welcoming the truck
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A local charity, Ecce Homo (Behold the Man), and those from Samaritans Purse in the UK who organise Operation Christmas Child, arrive to the delight of the children...
Children queue for presents
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...who are soon arranged in orderly queues at the back of the lorry.
Children cheering
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Some are over excited, while others struggle to ward off the cold biting wind...
Giving out the presents
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...but nothing can disguise the joy these present bring.
Girl with large Pink Panther toy
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Children hug huge cuddly toys...
Girl with her shoebox
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...carefully guard their boxes of treasure...
Baby with lollypop
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...or just enjoy a lollypop.
New homes at Pata Rat
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Throughout the year Ecce Homo helps the community in many ways, in recent months most notably in the construction of a number of new dwellings to help them through the Winter.
Children waving goodbye to the Samaritans Purse
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But this is a day for the children, who stand and wave goodbye.




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