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 leave a comment here (slower response!), firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website http://www.volunteerromania.co.uk for further details.