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Some of the Children

Just so that you know…. the children’s names have been changed for protection.  To those who have worked with us and the children, we would kindly ask (and we have no doubts that you will understand and respect this wish) that although you know the real identities of the children in the profiles, you too respect their privacy and protect their id. Thank you.

I find it a privileged and honour to know the children, being accepted into their lives and share in their happiness when the volunteers are here with us. However, many volunteers ask – referring to a particular child “what is their story”?  Personally I prefer not to know their history, because it saddens and angers me, but of course I have been witness to and told about a few. So if you would like to know, please read on, remembering that these are just a few out of the hundreds of special little people that we work and have worked with.

Carolina – 6 years-old

Carolina was found wandering the streets at about two years-old in a very poor city on the border of Romania. She was taken in by our partner where she was named and stayed in their orphanage in the same city for the following year of her life. – In Romania, if a parent has not been in contact for a year, the child becomes ‘Ward of the State’, at this time they are able to be adopted. No one adopted Carolina.  Therefore, Carolina was handed into the care of our partner as official guardians and moved to a different Children’s Home about 300 miles away for another year, before she was moved another 200miles to Deva, which is where we met. Carolina is now six years-old and doing very well at school, despite the fact that she has no ‘real’ identity. No one knows who her parents are, why she was found on the streets or where she was born.

During term-time, Carolina goes to school, arrives back at the Home and then does two hours homework before a light supper and bed. Volunteers are able to help her with English and Maths – which she is very good at and also help her with any chores that she has to do. In the school holidays, Carolina is a regular and willing participant at our Holiday Clubs. She is very quiet, but loves to draw, paint, do collage and joins in with singing, dancing, games and sports. She has a great big smile!

Stephan – 3 years-old

Stephan was left at hospital after birth by his mother. Stephan’s mother was single and he was possibly an embarrassment to her and her family. – Whilst single parent families exist in Romania, they are frowned upon by many in the same way that the same people frown upon anyone who is ‘different’, be they deaf, blind or have any special need. In addition, there are very few men who will ‘take-on’ another man’s child in Romania, so this meant that the mother would probably have to raise him alone which is a very difficult thing to do here in Romania. Please note, the mother in this case is not the one to be judged.

Having spent the first year of his life in hospital – in what the locals’ call ‘The Baby Pool’, with many other babies, Stephan was handed over to the State and placed in the care of our partner.

Stephan now lives happily in the same apartment with another 10 children all of differing ages (like a real family) and is being cared for by the apartment nanny. He is now talking….very, very well and if you were to work with him, you would need to have eyes in the back of your head and wear running shoes every day!

Adriana – 10 years old, Daniela – 7 years-old & Boris 3 years-old.

Adriana joined the Children’s Home eight years ago, when her mother was pregnant with her sister Daniela. Daniela joined her sister at the Home when her mother was pregnant with her brother Boris. Boris joined this last summer when – yes, you guessed, his mother is now pregnant again! It is at this point I get angry!! I have to admit, sometimes with the mother, but mostly with the system.

Adriana, Daniela and Boris come from a Romani background. There is great prejudice in Romania against the Roma. Because of this prejudice, the Roma have little access to schooling, in very recent years, they had no schooling at all by the State. Therefore, it is hardly any wonder that they have no learning of what most of us would consider just life and how it should work. This family also come from shanty town Roma, so no schooling at all unless the State have picked them up, taken them to school and they returned. (The State is obligated to do this once). Many don’t return to school, for many reasons (No money to dress: They can’t read: They don’t know the Romanian language, only Roma language: They don’t ‘fit in’). The main reason though, is that because they have such horrendous living conditions, their hygiene is lacking and they get bullied. This said, the schools that we work with, accept, shower and dress their Romani pupils.

Back now to Adriana; Daniela and Boris. These three children have been discarded by their family for (momentary) financial reasons. They are supported financially at the home by sponsors, but will not become Wards of State, because their father and mother make it a rule to visit them once a year. The children love their visit and have no concerns about being placed in the Home. For them in realistic terms, they have a bed, food and education, had they remained in the ‘family unit’, they would like many others be begging on the street.

To work with all three of these children is a pleasure. They smile and have fun all of the time. They laugh at you when you try to speak their language, they laugh when they try to speak yours. They always jump on you as you arrive – even if it’s only the t-shirt that they recognise, then when they realise they don’t know you, they laugh again. I think somewhere deep-down, they know that they have a better life where they are.

If you would like the privilage of working with children in Romania, please contactus@volunteerromania.eu or visit our website http://www.volunteerromania.eu for further details.

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Ten Traits of The Ideal Volunteer

So, what does it take to be the best?

  1.  A big, big smile. (Its infectious).
  2.  An open mind to a new culture, which needs to be embraced for maximum impact and the full experience.
  3. The inner child to be released when working with children. (Show them how to be a child).
  4. Fun loving. (You’re here to help them have fun, have fun yourselves).
  5. A committed & responsible attitude.
  6. Discipline for yourself and the child. (Sometimes it’s hard, but it will help you and the children if they can see self control in an adult who cares).
  7.  A heart for the job in hand (whatever that job may be!).
  8. The ability to plan, execute and review your project plan. (We all want to enjoy our work, the best work comes from careful planning and changing what didn’t go so well – nobody gets it right first time).
  9. An individual who enhances a team. (Join in, your input is important in work and play – You enjoy things more too).
  10. Someone who wants to Make a Change for the Better (Not just enrol to enhance their CV).

Above all of this to be a well rounded person who wants to do something that will enhance the lives of others as well as their own whilst having fun.

Easter Cakes!

The weather held up – though overcast for most of the day, so off we went for a pre-Easter party with our neighbours and presented our contribution – the cakes!

(Well, just because we’re in Romania, doesn’t mean that we can’t take a little bit of British culture, after all Coke and Pepsi have flooded the world with American culture).

We also took a ‘Duggy-Egg’ salad and toast to nibble on before the main meal which was also well recieved and a nice, savory start to the banquet which followed.

Anyway, the cakes were very much appreciated and eaten before, during and after the main meal, even though the Simnel cake was cobbled together with ingredients which could be found in Romania. In fact, they were so much appreciated that our host was seen to eat a total of 8 pieces and growled if anyone else moved in.

Everyone had a good time, and left with very full tummies or just fell asleep where they were sitting.

(P.S – We did leave some cake at home, so more today following a lovely roast lamb dinner which is just about to be popped in the oven).

 

Easter Saturday

Well, today the weather is a little wet and drizzly, but not too big a problem as Easter Saturday is the day for cooking in Romania. Many people will fast today, so to get their fill of food, they will prepare the banquet which will be eaten after the midnight service of celebrating the light in the world.

So, we have dyed the eggs, made the Simnel cake (a little tradition from the UK needs to be kept), banana-choc cup cakes for the children and we’re off to the neighbours for the start of Easter festivities.

Together at two o’clock in the morning we shall make our way up to the church on the hill and welcome the light together, circling the church with our candles before taking communion.

Happy Easter.

Easter in Romania (Coming Soon!)

Whilst many of you celebrated Easter last weekend, here in Romania, we have Orthodox Easter on its way this weekend! So now the children are all off school and having fun in the sunshine, whilst the family prepare the house and food for a wonderful Easter feast.

The children are very excited and want to be a part of the Easter celebration preparation, so the programme is all about Easter, Easter tradition and of course Easter eggs!

In other areas, Easter is a very busy time of year, the planting has started and all around the gardens and fields are sprouting new growth. The painting and spring cleaning is well on its way too, everyone is busily working so that the house is spick and span for any visitors that might arrive during the holiday.

Lamb is the main dish here for Easter (and in fact the only time of year that you can buy it, which disappoints be lots!) Eggs are leaping of the shelves as they are bought to dye ready for everyone to play ‘egg tapping’ on Easter Sunday, but more about that in a few days’ time!

Happy Easter!

May Madness – Volunteer for under £220/week*

Volunteer with children in Romania for less than £220/week** with our *May Madness Programme.

You’ll have to run to catch this one!  

Volunteer with a friend between 1st and 31st May, and you both get the experience for half price, on all two and four week stays within this period. So pay only £635** each for 2 weeks, or £875** each for a 4 week stay.

The programme in May is quite different to the summer programme. You still get all of the necessary pre-departure support, on programme training and in country support.  Everything remains the same with the exception of the length of the day, which stops at 13:00 instead of 17:00.

Why not take a look at this and other offers on http://www.volunteerromania.eu/Special-Weeks.php  for more details, or drop us a line on contactus@volunteerromania.eu and we will have a chat with you about your options.

*Volunteer with a friend, Pick-up for 1st May start is 3rd May    **Usual price £1270 for 2 weeks, £1750 for 4 weeks.

The Children’s Homes

When I first came to Romania the state ‘orphanages’ (as they were called then) were horrendous by western standards, just like the TV reports I had been seeing, but one thing I noticed here in Deva was that the children were happy and the staff loved them which is what counted to them. They didn’t care about the toilets not having seats, doors or even partitions between them, they were just happy to be loved.

Here we all are together and these smiles were always there, not just for the photograph.

Now, I am pleased to say that the standard of living has improved greatly. All of our children now live in a ‘family’, ten children share an apartment with one nanny. The children are of varying ages (just like in a real family), but all of the same gender. (There are 160 children)

Each morning, the children go to school and each afternoon return ‘home’, and do their homework or attend our English school. During school holidays, we plan a programme for them which is educational, but fun and they love it. When we arrive they are all there waiting and waving, in anticipation for the surprises ahead.

 

We try to have a theme for the week, always starting the year at the Eater break and moving on with the olympics, pirates, gardening, swimming, painting, pottery, recycling and any others that we think up along the way.

In future weeks, we will show you how we worked last year, so that you can start thinking of what you might bring to the project when you visit us. Don’t forget to sign up now for the Easter special, 2-4-1 http://www.volunteerromania.eu/Special-Weeks.php

Sometimes we take them on trips, sometimes we all go to the garden and help with the vegetables, always we have fun!