As yet another year wizzes by, often, especially living in Romania, one never takes the time to pause & look around us. We just work to survive, survive to work & on goes the merrygoround, until another year. Jan 2011 was 20 minutes ago & yet, in a few short weeks, we’ll have another.
Yesterday, i was fortunate enough to be bothered (often, I seem to have more pressing priorities so never bother) to go visit some less fortunate people than myself & I wanted to share that with you, because it was a worthwhile & fulfilling experience.
- (Library Pic only) I went to visit an all-boys orphanage near Rupea yesterday to fulfil a promise to a dear old lady. I was pleasantly surprised & the experience was a positive one, but I can make it even more positive with your involvement.
In short, a girl friend of mine recently adopted a 7 yo girl, who at age 2 or so witnessed her mother being killed by her drunk husband in a fight, so the husband went to prison & in an instant, the girl lost both parents for good, & was put into a care home.
The little girl is in excellent, if not the best possible hands now with a solid stable future ahead of her in a loving family. But the little girl has a brother of the same age who was put in another orphanage at the same time & since they were torn apart, have lost the only family the brother/sister should have had, each other.
Anyway, a sweet old lady aged 84 (well, my mum actually) on hearing the story while in Romania last week made me promise to go see if the kid was ok, & pass on his sisters greetings, citing the fact that the boy will grow up affected by such a loss unless some kind of continuous link with his sister is maintained. So, off I went along with a good buddy, I call ‘Slim’. I call him Slim because he is as fat as a barrel! But he has a heart of gold & more genuine warmth & love that you find in a bus full of nice people. We went equipped with some small chocolate gifts for all, but I was expecting the worst, being a state orphanage.
However, on arrival, I was really quite impressed. Brightly coloured rooms, pleasant staff, happy faces & lots of energy.
- (Library Pic only) I wanted to take a back seat & observe, rather than seeming like some White Knight from overseas with bags of money & solutions. Slim introduced himself to the kids & then got each boy to introduce himself, & gave them chocolate each & off they went to their respective dorms. We stayed for an hour with one group & played games & did magic tricks with a few, including the brother of the adopted girl mentioned above. I left knowing we had made a small but positive change in their otherwise institutionalised lives.
Some of the children go away on holidays each year to families from time to time. I can strongly recommend (assuming you are Romanian or with a Romanian) if you are able to & you have male & female adults present for the entire exercise, you consider taking
one or 2 boys for a weekend, or even as I hope to, for Christmas. Many kids really were bright, smiling & happy & very well behaved.
Obviously, it is not acceptable for a strange, single male to take
children away, for the kid’s & their own safety & of course, to avoid any complications. But I’d be certain that all concerned would enjoy the experience if you have such an opportunity to bring one or more of these boys into a family environment for a day or two. It could change the child’s outlook given the right experience & guidance.
What I took away were 2 tasks. One for the short term & one for the longer, & you can help with both.
Short term, My team at White Mountain & Slim (dressed up as Santa) are going to back to Rupea next week. I want to take a sack of 40 toys with me, so I need you to donate just a few euros or toys please to help with this. Time & resource, i do have. Sufficient money, I don’t. Contact me for ways to do this (incl paypal, UK or Romanian bank transfer etc or just pop by in person)
Long term, (eg summer 2012): What the kids lack is any kind of life experience. At 18, they are booted out to a cruel world without any social or practical skills to aid them. We can’t change too much, but what we could do is this. Take half a dozen willing practical guys along, a heap of wood, go-cart-wheels, seats & string for the steering & braking the 38 seven to 14yo kids into groups of say 6-8 people, have a competitive workshop, a sort of scrap-heap-challenge, where the teams, led by a few capable adults, build a simple go-kart from scratch, & we have a race between the teams.
Another simpler idea is to take 3 or 4 bicycles & a bag of tools there for the day, & with 2 or 3 adults. Each adult would manage a group of 4-6 kids , carry out a 2-hour strip & rebuild workshop & then repeat for the next group. 3 adults with 4 kids each, would each do 3 workshops in on day, & thereby all the boys would get some kind of hands on practical experience that would boost their confidence. It would be nice to leave the bikes there for them.
I am inspired to do this kind of workshop because recently, my 2 nephews, living near Chelsea & attending great schools, go on skiing holidays etc & live a priviledged lifestyle have never so much as held a wrench & their mother (my sister), would never encourage them to get their hands dirty.
It is hard to actually believe this, but its true. I got them both to jack up two cars & take all 4 wheels off one car & put them all on the other, & vice versa, complete with locking wheel nuts! One wheel at a time, they managed it unaided. Don’t forget, these boys are 8 & 10.
I then drove one of the 2 cars from London to Brasov, 1600 miles! & no wheels fell off! Their confidence to experiment with mechanical things has increased 1000 times as a result of that 1 hour exercise.
So, if you fancy helping out with this later in 2012, let me know soon & I will start planning. I see it as a one day exercise lasting 6-10 hours & should be a lot of fun.