Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday, May 29th

Hey everyone! I have so much to say, but little time. It is 10:30 here, and Bogdan (our hostess) wants to shut down the lobby I think. First, I just wanted to share our daily schedule. We really have it easy here:

8:00: Breakfast with the team in our hotel restaurant

8:50: Arrive at the clinic in time for the 9:00 feeding

9:00-12:30: feed the children at 9:00 and noon, play, take walks, etc.

12:30: lunch at the restaurant and break while the kids are napping

2:30: return to the clinic for another feeding and more play time

4:00: return to the hotel5:15-6:15: one group goes back to the clinic for another feeding time and more play

6:30: dinner

7:30-8:30: my favorite time!!! My group returns to the clinic for bedtime!

Today, Cristi laughed and smiled while standing which is a breakthrough considering he basically pouted every other time we work on standing. He was sooo happy today. He has been eating more by spoon, which is really great!! I am going to miss him so much, "mush" (boogers) and all! I swear that kid produces more snot in one day, than I have in a lifetime!

I also held Emma tonight (whom Erin usually cares for. She is 15 months and I'm not sure of her exact diagnosis, but it is something neurological. She has spasms that make her entire body stiff as a board. This is very painful for her.) She laughed and smiled which was great as I have not seen this before. I think Erin's "miracle hands" soothe her much better than mine, but I gave it my best shot!!!

We had a new arrival at the clinic today, a one month old little boy. I didn't get to have much time with him today, but I hope to next week because I miss being around all the little babies!!

I have had several "epiphanies" since being here. Most of them are while I'm playing with the kids and cannot write them down. I do my best to remember them though. One is regarding "love". I have realized that love and affection are truly a "universal language". We are separated by cultural, language, and other barriers regarding the condition of these children. However, the love we give and the affection they share with us overcomes any barrier between us. I feel so blessed that I had this opportunity. I miss everyone at home, cold milk, and beef (we always have chicken.....every night.), among other things, but I will be very sad to leave this experience behind me. I will have many great memories and new friends though! I definitely feel as I will have a healthier mind, body (I have never ate so many veggies in my life), and soul when I return!

Another thing that I love here is that everyone walks everywhere. The clinic and hotel is on a highway much like the one I live on at home (B). Everyone walks on this road, and I'm assuming it is safe. Yesterday morning ,we even saw a parade of school children walking somewhere. I will say, I get scared and almost jump in the ditch when a big truck zooms by.

Well, I should probably get to bed. I think my lack of sleep and time change keeps catching up with me. It probably doesn't help that my roommate and I (Erin) stay up and talk so late everynight! Tomorrow and Sunday we are visiting Iasi to see the painted monasteries! We will also have lunch in a Romanian home and will get to try their homemade wine and plum brandy. I am very excited, but sad about leaving the children for the weekend. (The clinic is much less staffed on the weekends.) Talk to you all soon!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wednesday, May 27th

I don't even know where to start!! I guess I'll start with the most important part....the children!! Since my last post on Monday, we have gotten even more acquainted with the children. Most of them are not partial to people, but nonetheless soak up the love and attention we bring to them. I think it is official that we have all fallen in love with the children here!!! We are able to feed them, take them on walks, play outside as long as we wish, put them to bed at night, and much much more!! The children who are mobile are so funny. They are never with one person too long and share their love with everyone!

My favorite part of the day is after dinner. Our official day ends at 4:00. We take the short walk back to our hotel and one group of volunteers returns at 5:15 and stays until 6:15 for feeding time. After dinner, the other team (which I'm a part of) returns from 7:30-8:30 to play some more and get the babies ready for bed. This is the best time of the day. All of the children are in one room and the fun for them is non-stop. Some small milestones were made today. Sami, who is 4 (I think) overcame his fear of walking without help and was practically running across the room! Another cute moment came when Mihaela climbed in the bouncy chair on top of her twin sister, Gabriella. Both were laughing hysterically!!

I spend the most time with Cristi (as I have been "assigned" to him). We have been working on standing up and for longer periods of time. He is stubborn and doesn't do this when he doesn't want to. Tonight after dinner he stood for almost 5 minutes (with help) and is still hesitant to take any steps. Volunteers before me have said that he would stand for up to 10 minutes at one time. We are slowly working back up to this and also trying to take little steps. He is also letting me hold him more which I hope will eventually lead to him tolerating a more upright position during feeding. (Typically the only way he will eat is if he is lying flat on his back on the floor....not good as he almost always coughs during his feeding.)

I also held Maria for the first time today. She is less than 1 year old and has hydrocephaly. As a result, her head is very big. For some reason or another, she did not receive a shunt, so we just try to make her time left with us as comfortable as possible. Everyone takes turns throughout the day holding her and singing and speaking to her. Her breathing is labored when she is not being held, but quiets when she is being held.

That is all for now! I should have some other interesting stories later as we are going to Barlad again tomorrow night and taking a weekend trip to visit the painted monasteries!!

Monday, May 25, 2009

First Day with the Babies

Hello everyone, or in Romanian, "Buna". We arrived in Tutova Saturday night after our long trip from home. After arriving in the Bucharest airport, we traveled 4 hours to Tutova in a big van. We (12 volunteers) are staying at a very cute little hotel just a short walk from the Tutova Clinica where the babies live.

Yesterday, we met all of the children for the first time. They are all so cute and unique in their own way!! We fed and played with the babies. Let me tell you, feeding time is quite different than what I have experienced while working in preschools and the hospital back home! After dinner last night (btw, the food is GREAT!) we chose our child that we will primarily take care of. Of course ,we will switch and help each other when breaks are needed, but for the most part we are responsible for one child. (There are 18 children at the clinic currently.) My little guy, Christi Daniel, is a 3 year old with Down Syndrome. He is very cute and could probably entertain himself all day long! However, I want him to interact more and enjoy the presence of others, so mainly I hope to help develop his language skills (as much as I can in 2 weeks!)

Today, we had a tour of the entire Tutova hospital. Dr. Delia is the program director there.She is a very admirable woman. The hospital has about 70 beds (I think, can't quite remember.) They are able to do basic testing at the hospital and can deliver babies if absolutely needed. However, no surgeries are performed there. The hospital was very clean and everyone was very friendly. Dr. Delia told us that she has a M.D. and then got a Ph.D. in Minneapolis while working at their children's hospital. Originally she was to stay at the Tutova clinic for 6 months, but has been there for 18 years (I think). She is very knowledge and truly cares about the well-being of the hospital, the community and her patients as is evident by her hard work and small salary compared to American doctors. She truly seems to be an amazing individual!

Tonight we went to the "city" of Barlad. I think about 75,000 people live there. There were some very beautiful buildings there! We ate at a restaurant, and again, the food was delicious! I think we will be visiting there again later this week.

There is so much more to tell, but for now this is all I have.