Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"Spring into Service" in Romania!!

“Spring into Service” with Global Volunteers to receive a special limited discount offer for our March and April teams!

Four or more volunteers who apply by January 31 for any of these 28 teams in 16 countries will receive a discount of $200 off our standard service program fee, per volunteer, for one-, two- or three-week international programs or $100 off our standard service program fee, per volunteer, for USA programs. No other discounts apply.

Please encourage others to volunteer in our five fundamental project areas: education (especially promotion of girls education), labor and community infrastructure, health care, child care, and food and nutrition.

Call us at 800-487-1074 for details and we'll assist you every step of the way. Our worldwide host communities can’t wait to welcome you!!

Check out this link for more details & service program dates: http://globalvolunteer.org/special/springspecial.asp

Romania Service Program Dates, March & April Teams:
5-Mar-11 to 26-Mar-11
26-Mar-11 to 16-Apr-11
16-Apr-11 to 7-May-11

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Birthday Andreea

A special little girl named Andreea, who lives at the Tutova Clinic in Romania, just turned two. Her smile is heartwarming and her giggles fill up the room.

At this time of Thanksgiving, she reminds us why we work together to serve children who live in hospitals and orphanages, students who wish to learn conversational English, and communities worldwide who invite us to lend a helping hand.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Vote for Global Volunteers!

From November 15 - November 21 the Star Tribune newspaper is holding a contest entitled 'Full Page Project' amongst MN non-profits and the winner will receive a free full page ad in the paper!

Please vote for us this week ~ you can vote once per hour!

Here is the link where you can register and then vote for Global Volunteers: http://startribune.upickem.net/engine/Registration.aspx?contestid=22815

We would also encourage you to pass this link along to your family and friends, and post it on your personal Facebook page. Let us know if you have any questions, and remember voting has begun!

Thank you for your support.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Warm Welcome after the Weekend!

Monday October 25 – Wednesday October 27, 2010

After a wonderful weekend in Transylvania with Radu it was nice to see all the children again on Monday. When we arrived at the clinic, Andreea waived as we looked through the window. It was a wonderful feeling that they recognized us and were happy to see us after being gone for the weekend. We were happy to hear that some students from Mihaela’s high school visited them while we were away.

Monday afternoon we were in the big playroom and the mobile children joined us around 5pm. Without their ringleader Mihaela, they didn’t try to get up on the radiator and open the window. Ion did but he only did it once.

The twins, A&R, are now walking quite well. Especially in the big playroom where we usually go in the afternoon. Alina and Gabby are usually with the mobile kids in the morning and we see them in the afternoon. They are both sweet little girls with cute smiles. Alina, though, loves to hit the other children and pull their hair. One of the mobile children, Marius, joined us for the first time and also loves to pull hair. He then looks at his hand and smiles.

Ionutz and Maria can’t move around but they both have wonderful smiles especially when you rub their tummies and talk to them. Cristi loves to crawl over you and loves to look at himself in the mirror. You can always find him amusing himself in a corner or under the rocking chair. Daria is as sweet as ever. She’s good at entertaining herself but she loves to be bounced. She has a wonderful smile with those big brown eyes. All the children, mobile and non-mobile, love to swing in the air. I love it when they laugh and all their big smiles.

On Monday afternoon we got to meet two Peace Corps volunteers from the US, Brent and Allison, and they will be Romania for two years. They stayed for awhile in the afternoon and helped with the children.

After lunch on Tuesday afternoon, Lisa and I were walking back to the clinic on the dirt road and I slipped and fell. The staff at the clinic was so nice; they cleaned my pants and shoes for me. If nothing else, we got a good laugh out of it!

Written by Volunteer Sheridan

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Getting Settled In

Monday October 18 – Wednesday October 20, 2010

We were getting to know the children during our first full days at the clinic. Lisa and I kept getting the twins Roxana & Andreea mixed up. The twins love to be held but are learning to walk pretty well. If you keep at them, they will. Daria is so cute with her brown eyes and big smile. She loves to be bounced and she loves to pull your hair. Alina loves to hit everyone but she is very smart. Loves to sing with Lisa.

Gabriela has a beautiful smile, is quiet and sneaks up behind you. Ionutz is an adorable little boy. He smiles when you rub his stomach and he rolls back and forth with his hands up like he is dancing to music. He can entertain himself pretty well. Cristi is also good at entertaining himself. He makes funny faces and can sit in many poses, almost like yoga. He loves to climb over you and has a great smile. I have found in the first couple of days that they are very loving children and it’s wonderful being around them.

We met Dr. Delia, a very delightful person and a great doctor. It’s hard to believe that she does everything by herself. We got a tour of the hospital and got to see everything that Global Volunteers has done.

Written by Volunteer Sheridan

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A NEW Holiday Volunteer Opportunity in Romania!

We've added a December 18 (Dec. 18 - Jan. 8) program in Romania due to the high interest in volunteerism during the holidays!!

Please check out our website for more details on winter service programs: www.globalvolunteers.org

Friday, September 24, 2010

Smile Because It Happened

Friday, September 24, 2010

Written by: Evan

Message of the Day from Evan: “We should begin by ensuring that every child in the word is able to eat and go to school. Let us internationalize children, no matter where they are born, by treating them as a world heritage deserving of the entire world’s attention.” Critovam Buarque – former Brazilian Minister of Education

On Steve and Lorraine's last day, Steve quoted Dr. Seuss, "Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened." It has been a wonderful 3 weeks with many smiles. Somehow the leaking shower at the hotel and the overheated play rooms get forgotten and it is the time with the children that is most memorable. I did feel badly that I couldn't spend as much time with some of the babies this week but you just do what you can. I found out the next team member is in her mid-20s so I'm sure she'll have lots of energy compared to me. I am pleased to report that I stayed healthy all 3 weeks. If I get sick on the way home, who cares?

The weather today was not as warm as yesterday but we put jackets on the non-mobiles and took them outside with the mobiles for a little over an hour this afternoon. Miha made fewer escape attempts over the fence BUT later in the mobile room she did demonstrate that not only could she climb on to the windowsill she can open the window. I was in the room alone with the kids and I didn't know I could move that fast across a room.

Nicoletta is still in isolation but was all smiles whenever I went in to see her. She was making noises and would grab for my face and hair. Ana Maria and Costel are still in isolation as well and sleeping a lot but I did catch each of them awake once today. Ana Maria is quite the charmer - not only does she smile she practically laughs. I wasn't able to spend much time with Raul but I think Dan has been in with him some. Fortunately Maria Cleopatra is a regular visitor to the playroom so that is great. Except for this afternoon at 6:00 Mirella the aide seemed to think I could take Maria back to her room. I actually did try and lift her and there was no way I was going to be able to get her off the ground and me off my knees without doing major damage to both of us. So I went and got an aide.

We had our good-bye party as usual during afternoon naptime. Dr. Delia wasn't working today so I didn't get to say good-bye to her. Instead, we had Andreea, Ion and Miha as special guests. I'm surprised they didn't get tummy aches with all of the stuff they ate. Then when we were outside they were eating apples and then Jalina brought them cookies. I like that I'm getting to know the aides names better and talking to them a bit more. Mind you "talking" is their limited English and my limited Romanian but still we can get a few things across. I tried to take as many pictures of the aides with the children as I could so I can send copies after I get home.

I did go through all of the babies' journals and wrote an email to everyone whose email addresses I could find giving them this blog address and telling them that volunteer numbers are down. Whatever we can do to get more volunteers here is great, as the children will make more progress with more attention.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

It actually crossed my mind to see if I could stay...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Written by: Evan

Message of the Day from Evan: “One hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, how big my house was or what kind of car I drove. But the world may be a little better because I was important in the life of a child.” Forest Witcraft

It is hard to believe I only have two days left at the clinic. I found out today that there will be only one person on the next team, someone who hasn't been here before. It actually crossed my mind to see if I could stay for another week but I think I need to get home for multiple reasons. I am worried about these small teams, especially with new babies and others who need attention.

Mihaela was at the clinic today and picked up Delia at lunchtime and brought her back. I didn't see them during the afternoon but expect they were with the mobiles. Delia showed me her backpack with all of her schoolwork at lunch time. She had many papers that said "foarte bine" (very good) on them. In free time, they can draw and she had done some excellent drawings. She is probably the only child at her school that has drawn a picture of an orphanage and orphans. The good news is the orphans were happy. I asked Delia what her favorite thing was about school today and she said religion class. Romanian Orthodox is the state religion so religion is taught in the public schools. If a child isn't Romanian Orthodox, the priest or whoever at their church needs to write them a note to get them excused from the Romanian Orthodox religion class.

The 6:00 bottle came a bit early today so I went into the mobile room and hung out with Miha, Lea Celine, Alina and Andreea for a bit, and brought Gaby with me.I tried the singing and dancing routine to keep them amused and keep Miha from climbing up the radiator to the window sill and then tried bouncing them on my legs and then ran out of ideas. Plus it was time for dinner so I was ready to leave. Unfortunately, the aide had locked the door to keep the kids from escaping, as they are known to do. So I waited for about 5 min. or so until Jalina walked by and I got her attention. BTW, the aides have been really good about helping me feed the children at bottle and yogurt time.

I've started writing in the children’s' journals that we leave for the upcoming volunteers. It is always fun to read back, especially to entries I wrote when I was last here in February. Some children have made good progress and for others it is very slow. I was pleased to see Cristi Daniel who has Down's syndrome becoming more active and then I realized he is 4 years old and probably not even at 1 year developmentally. Still, as long as they are doing better that is the most important thing.

The day started out foggy and then became quite sunny and pleasant. The children are being dressed in their warmer clothes though so I don't expect any more outdoor time.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

NEW Romania Winter Scholarship Fund!!

Global Volunteers needs your help to ensure that there are enough loving arms and caring hands throughout the year at Tutova Failure-to-Thrive Clinic in Barlad, Romania. For many volunteers, the idea of spending precious vacation time in the cold Romanian winter is not attractive. However, volunteers are as desperately needed in the winter as they are in spring, summer and fall.

Because Global Volunteers is able to recruit very few volunteers during the winter months, two of our volunteers suggested we create the Romania Winter Volunteer Fund. This fund will subsidize the service program fee of volunteers who are willing to spend two to three weeks on a winter Service Program.
Your generous contribution will help us provide the children at Tutova Clinic enough individual attention at all times of year, so that they may to reach their developmental milestones.

To contribute to the fund and learn more about the criteria please visit our Romania Winter Volunteer Fund site.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I have been looking forward to this day...

Monday and Tuesday, September 6 and 7, 2010

Written by: Steve

Message of the Day from Evan: “Each time someone stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.” (Robert F. Kennedy)

After breakfast, it was off to the clinic for our first day of work…Yea! I have been looking forward to this day for the past number of months.

We took with us our supplies of bottle liners, plastic diaper covers and diaper pins. Not only were these items in need at the clinic, I found out later the packs of pins were toys for the mobiles and kept them entertained for at least a few minutes.

It was so great to again see the children from last year and to see the new ones which have arrived since I was last here. I enjoyed my day with the toddlers and sneaking off to visit several times with Raul, Alina and Marius who were in isolation.

After lunch we visited with Dr. Delia who was excited to show us the new ultra sound machine and the new lab. It is great seeing the items Global Volunteers money has helped to purchase throughout the years. Dr. Delia also said a new baby was scheduled to be arriving soon at the clinic and she told us about the work being done to get Raul’s paperwork completed so he can go to the U.S. for treatment.

After a delicious dinner of chicken, grilled vegetables and chocolate crepes we retired to our rooms.

Tuesday morning before it rained we were able to take the older children outside. This usually seems to be a treat for them, and the staff.

The new baby arrived in the afternoon. This seems to cause excitement as the staff checks the newest resident of the clinic. Ana Maria is six months old and weighs about 9 pounds. Later in the afternoon, she was screaming up a storm so course as part of the welcoming committee I held her for awhile.

Dinner tonight was at the Da Vinci restaurant in Barlad.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

We are ready to get started!!

Saturday and Sunday, September 4 and 5, 2010

Written by: Evan Boido

Message of the Day from Dan: Once a man was walking along a beach. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. Off in the distance he could see a person going back and forth between the surf's edge and the beach. Back and forth this person went. As the man approached he could see that there were hundreds of starfish stranded on the sand as the result of the natural action of the tide.

The man was stuck by the apparent futility of the task. There were far too many starfish. Many of them were sure to perish. As he approached the person continued the task of picking up starfish one by one and throwing them into the surf.
As he came up to the person he said, "You must be crazy. There are thousands of miles of beach covered with starfish. You can't possibly make a difference." The person looked at the man. He then stooped down and pick up one more starfish and threw it back into the ocean. He turned back to the man and said, "It sure made a difference to that one!"

Here we are: Team 149 – few in numbers but I’m sure we will manage very well. There are three of us. Steve has come every September for the last 12 years! He was on one of the first few teams so has seen many changes. Steve’s mother, Lorraine, is here for the first time and I’m sure the children will love her. This is my 5th or 6th visit; I’ve kind of lost track.

We had a pleasant drive to Tutova on Saturday. I saw more of it in the light than I’ve seen before. There were lots of people selling fruits and vegetables on the side of the road in the villages and towns. Some had big tables and others had just a few items in front of their houses.

We spend most of Sunday with orientation interspersed by emails admiring the new tile floor in the hotel dining room. We did have a chance for a morning walk before our meeting started. The weather is just beautiful – warm but not too hot.

Steve and I restrained ourselves from sneaking over to the clinic before our meeting started. It was all I could do to wait until afternoon to see the children. We have an almost even number of mobiles and non-mobiles. Steve will go with the mobiles and Lorraine and I with the non-mobiles, although I’m sure I’ll need to pop in and visit the mobiles now and then. It’s amazing to hear how many of the children have learned to walk or are near walking since I was last here in February. From reading the journals, they are all making progress albeit some more slowly than others.

We are ready to get started!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Long Overdue Updates

Exactly one week ago, we were arriving in Tutova with a new team of volunteers after a long day of driving back and forth to Bucharest. We are a team of six women, four of us being returning volunteers. The other three returners were here in October of 2008. Four volunteers are here for two weeks, and the other two of us will be here for the full three weeks.

It is finally spring here! We have experienced mostly sunny days in the last week, and everything is in bloom, which is beautiful. The road from Tutova to Barlad is surrounded by fields of yellow grape seed flowers, which we are told are used to make oil for paints, cars, and planes. The high temperatures this past week were between 16-22 degrees celcius. Friday marked the first day that we were able to take the children outside without hats and coats, which was very exciting!

Our team of six is split into two groups of three to work in the two playrooms at the clinic. In total we have 20 children. Three children are above age three (3, 3, 7), 7 children are two years old, 4 children are one year old, and 6 children are under age one. I am in the group volunteering with the non-mobiles, which includes children from 5 months old up through 3.5 years old. The mobile group has mostly toddlers, but includes children from one year up through 7 years. Within the non-mobile group we have three children in isolation, so we split our time between the playroom and the isolation rooms to work with all the children.

In the last few weeks we have seen three children leave the clinic. Two children went home to live with their families (Andrei and Denisa), while one went to live in an institution for older children (Sammy). We have also seen the arrival of a new baby (Nicoleta the 5 month, 5 pound, wonder), and the return of another baby (Daria was away for a week for cleft lip surgery). I have been able to meet parts of the families of Andreea/Roxana, Roxana, Celine, Daniela, Andrei, Nicoleta, Daria, Petre, and Andreea.

I was also fortunate to be able to spend my 19th birthday here with the children. I was very happy to have my party at the clinic and to be able to share cake with the staff and the children. This weekend another volunteer is celebrating her birthday with a trip up to the painted monasteries. There is nothing better than celebrating surrounded by the Tutova babies! I have also been lucky enough to celebrate some of the children's birthdays with them. Since I arrived in March we have celebrated Marius, Gabriela, Mihaela, and Petre!

Seven weeks of my trip are now finished, and only two remain. I feel so lucky to have been able to spend an extended period of time here with the children. It really gives you the opportunity to get to know the children and staff, and to understand how the clinic and the community work. Three of us were joking last night about how we feel like the luckiest parents around; we have 20 children, yet we are off duty at night and not required to change diapers or do laundry! We have the chance to spend all our time and energy focusing on the happiness and development of the children, and with that we see growth.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

April 3rd-8th

This week began with the start of a new Global Volunteers team in Tutova, and my fourth week here with the children on this trip. We have had nine volunteers this week, but three will be heading home to the U.S. on Saturday. Our orientation day happened to be on Easter, and we were able to participate in a Romanian Easter tradition involving cracking hard boiled eggs against each other until one person is left with a whole egg. After a good run by Amanda, our winner was John, our youngest teammate. Some of us were also able to view a midnight candlelit walk to the town cemetery by the village people on the night we arrived (Easter morning). Romanians celebrate three days of Easter, lasting Sunday-Tuesday. Wednesday was National Healthcare Workers Day, so the many of the staff members at the hospital were given the day off then as well. Let's just say the new volunteers were pros at multitasking and feeding multiple children at once within our first few days! We have also been very lucky the past few days to be able to take many of the children outside. The children love exploring the hospital grounds and resting on blankets in the sun!

Some events that past volunteers may be interested in:
-Denisa Elena went home with her mom
-Sammy will be leaving for the CPS institution in Barlad as early as next week
-Andrei will be going home with his mom soon
-Daria Roxana's mom has visited three times in the last week
-Andreea's family on her father's side visited on Easter Monday
-Ionela is doing very well back with her family

Swinging In The Sun

Daniela and Ion

Outside Playtime

Alina and Alexandra

Me with Alina

Amanda and Dorothy Stretching Maria

John and Roxana

Denisa Heading Home With Her Mom

Sunday, April 4, 2010


I am now back in the States after another fulfilling trip to Tutova. It was just over 24 hours ago that I was saying goodbye to the kids, my new friends (both human and canine) and Romania. In our last week, Spring had sprung in the countryside. Flowers and trees were budding, the days warmer. Three weeks seems so long at the beginning and so short at the end. I am already missing Andreea's twinkling eyes and smile, being charmed by the new babies, Sami's outrageous faces and walk (dead-on impression of Frankenstein) and Cristi's funny vocalizations....gung-gadong, gung-gadong, gung-gadong.

My teammate, Laura, wrote this in our daily journal.

"I would like to thank the babies of Tutova. We've talked about how sad and difficult their lives are (and this is true) but in many ways, they've already done more to impact the world than many people ever will. These babies unite strangers from all over the world with different life experiences, religions, political views. The babies have opened our hearts to love more, understand more and to do more. So thank you to all the babies of Tutova- past and present. The world is a better place because you exist."

I couldn't have said it any better.

I will see you soon, Romania!


Sunday, March 28, 2010

And Then There Were Three.....

We had a busy week last week with the kids. Many were in isolation because of colds so the volunteers would take turns going in to play with them and try to relieve their boredom. Several parents came to visit last week. It is always so wonderful to see them with their children and very emotional when they have to leave them. The six remaining team members took a van to Bucharest for the weekend. Three of us left for home, which means this week will be crazy with 21 babies and only three of us left!

A little background on the kids that come to the Failure to Thrive/Pediatric Recovery Clinic. When Romania joined the European Union in January 2007, the EU named the county that the clinic is in, Vaslui, as the poorest county in all of the EU countries. It is a rural area, where some people still get around with horse and cart. Actually, it is quite lovely to see...you feel like you have stepped back in time. In Barlad, the closest city, there are excellant schools that lead most kids to a university education. However, in the small villages that surround Barlad, it is not uncommon for kids to drop out of school at a young age. Many times to work the land or to get a job to help the family. Often when a child is born with a disability in these small villages, the family doesn't have the education or financial means to take care of their child. At the clinic, we have kids with Down Syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Autism, club feet, cleft lip and palate, brittle bone disease, heart disease, malnutrition and neglect. Surgeries are performed on the kids that require it. Many kids are brought in voluntarily by their parents because they can't care for them. Families do visit as often as possible- around once a month to once a year. The poverty level in the area is high so it is difficult for parents to take time off of work and to pay for transportation to and from the clinic. Other children are brought to the clinic by Child Protective Services because they have been abandoned at the hospital or taken from their home due to bad living conditions. Currently, the age range for the kids at the clinic is four months to six years old.

People often ask me if it is sad volunteering in Romania. Yes, it is sad that these kids aren't growing up in a healthy, home environment but the clinic and Global Volunteers does the best they can to make it a positive situation. The clinic is bright, with cheerful drawings of cartoon characters on the walls. The metal cribs that many of us have seen from TV shows in the 90's are now bright cribs of blue, yellow and red. There is lots of laughter and fun. When a child runs into your arms, excited to see you or you soothe a crying baby, you know you have made the right decision to come here.

One of my favorite quotes is,"If you think you are too small to make a difference, then you have never been in bed with a mosquito." Our help may be small and for a short period of time but it makes a difference in these children's lives.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Picures of The Babies (weeks 1 and 2)

Denisa, Celine, and Andreea

Roxana and Andreea Outside!

Ionut and Daria Roxana

Petre and Cristi

Daria Roxana and Denisa

Petre talking to Maria Cleopatra

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Typical Day

I thought I would blog tonight for those of you who are thinking about signing up for the Romanian trip and want to know what a typical day is like.

8:00am-8:45am- Breakfast and reading of the team journal and the quote of the day.

9:00am-12:30pm- We leave for the clinic, about a three minute walk. Our first feeding is around 9:30. The non-mobiles usually have bottles and the mobiles we feed a chicken, potato and carrot puree from a bowl. Messy! The rest of the morning is play time. We play games, dance, practice sitting, crawling and walking, work on basic Romanian words and generally do things to stimulate the kids. Regarding Romanian words, we all get a laugh when we say "pa" to the older kids and they reply with the English translation of "bye"! The kids have also picked up on "uh-oh" and say it throughout the day! We have a snack around 11:00am, usually yogurt and fruit puree. Diapers are changed after that and then around noon, lunch is given to the kids, most often a repeat of breakfast.

12:30pm-2:45pm- Time for our lunch back at the hotel. We then have free time to rest, take a walk, do laundry, etc.

3:00pm-6:30pm- Back to the clinic to wake the kids up from their naps and to feed them again. Maleka, the amazing nursery school teacher, is with the older kids during the afternoon. We help her with the older kids, go to the non-mobiles room to play with them or sometimes help the aides fold mounds and mounds of cloth diapers. If the weather is nice, we also spend as much time outside as we can. Diapers are changed again around 4:00pm and then we feed the kids dinner around 6:00pm. Diapers and feeding are usually every four hours.

6:30pm- We have dinner at the hotel. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we go to Barlad to have dinner at a restaurant in the city and a stop at the grocery store. Then, collapse into bed! That time for me is now.......good night!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hello's and goodbye's

Friday was the last day for the members of our team that were spending one week here at Tutova. The day was filled with the usual feedings, diaper changings and play time. Last minute pictures were taken by the people leaving, wanting to preserve the week's memories. In the afternoon, we had a little party at the clinic as a thank you to the aides and nurses and a goodbye to our new friends. Several of the kids, who woke up early from their afternoon naps, joined us in the festivities. Many delicious cookies were eaten and a few tears were shed as people prepared to say goodbye. Several people talked about what a life changing experience this has been for them. Dr. Delia, who is the head doctor and runs the clinic, stopped by to say thank you and to answer questions. Dr. Delia came to the Tutova clinic and hospital in 1989 for a six month stay and has never left. Her devotion to the clinic and hospital is amazing! We had our last full team meal together on Friday night, pizza and Romanian cheesecake. Many of us stayed late to talk about the week, laugh and to toast Romania with a shot of Tuica, the Romanian liquor.

Saturday morning, six of our team members left. They will all be missed but especially Terry, our one guy, who provided us with laughter and was a true gentleman to all of the ladies on the team. Several people went over to the clinic on Saturday and Sunday. The weekend staff is just one nurse and one or two aides- for 22 kids! It is always busy and they appreciate the extra help. Kristen took a day trip to see Dracula's castle and Brasov. Michelle, Caroline and I went with Mihaela to visit Ionela at her home. Ionela was at the clinic for two years and is one of my favorites. She was born with a cleft lip and palate. Her parents were not able to take care of her so she came to the clinic. Most of the children at Tutova do have parents but because of the children's disability or poor living conditions, they can't stay in their home. Some of the parents stay involved in their children's life while others become wards of the state. Ionela had several surgeries to correct her cleft lip and palate and last December, went back home to her family. It was wonderful to see her smiling face and funny laugh. Both she and her family seem happy to be back together again.

We six remaining team members are rested and ready for a busy second week!!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Pictures From Week One

My name is Caroline, and this is my seventh team in Romania with Global Volunteers. This is my second time doing an extended stay in Tutova, and I will be staying for nine weeks. I am very excited to share my experiences with you all!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Great Outdoors

Today it was warm enough to take most of the kids outside! Many had not been out for several months so the bright sunshine and cool temps were a bit of a surprise for them. Romanian culture is not too big on having kids out in the cold. In fact, regardless of the tempurature, Romanians don't want children in a room that has the door open and a window open. One is fine but not both. Many believe that the draft from having both open may cause colds. It is alway fun finding out the nuances of different cultures around the world! Anyway, we bundled the kids up in the winter clothes and took them out for walks. Some kids in strollers, some teetered along and some were carried. We had fun trying to stay out of the mud (not always successfully), exploring the grounds of the clinic, picking up twigs and pinecones and feeding treats to the hum hums (dogs). Here's hoping for another sunny, not windy day tomorrow so we can get outside and explore further!


Monday, March 15, 2010

Happy Birthday Mihaela, Gabby and Marius!

Today is the twins, Mihaela and Gabby's, second birthday. It was also Marius's second birthday last week so we celebrated all three birthday's today. We brought a DELICIOUS birthday cake (thanks to our team leader Mihaela), had new birthday outfits for the kids (thank you, Lauren!) and a happy birthday banner to make the occasion. We sang Happy Birthday in English and the aides sang to them in Romanian. It was fun to hear the different birthday songs in the different languages. Little Mihaela even gave us her best dance moves in honor of her big day!

The kids seemed in much better spirits today. I think getting back to their usual routine (having many volunteers around) was great for them. Walking in to the clinic and having the kids smile and reach out for you and climb all over you and sometimes be a little naughty -"no hair pulling, Sami!"- is such an amazing feeling. It makes my day and brings joy all around.

Our team seems to be blending really well. Many of us stay after meals and continue our conversation. I find it interesting that 48 hours ago most of us were strangers and now, because of this shared experience, we are laughing at each others dumb jokes and carrying on like old friends. Three of the women on the team I have served with before and it has been great catching up with them. On a side note, the Romania program has one of the highest returning volunteer rates of any of the programs.

I have also made two new four-legged friends- well one is three legged. There are two darling dogs who hang out around the hotel. One looks like a pure bred yellow lab who only has use of three legs but gets around just fine. The other is a spunky true mutt. The team has been very generous with left-overs so they are going to bed very happy- like me.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Day One

Greetings from Romania! My name is Jane and this is my ninth trip with Global Volunteers, all in Romania. This team we are 12 strong. Ages range from 18 to 63 and from all walks of life- laywers, writers, nurses and a student. We also have a fantastic guy on our team, who is keeping us all in stitches! Our teams are mostly made up of women but we really need more men to join us. Working with babies is very manly and fun! It is important for the kids at the clinic to be exposed to both women and men- it is crucial for their development.

Our first day is mostly orientation. We all got to know one another a bit more, set individual and group goals, learned about Global Volunteers policies, had a Romanian language lesson (the other diners at the restaurant where we had our lesson got a kick out of us trying to roll our "r's") and received our room assignments- either the non-mobiles or the mobiles. We also were able to spend time over at the Failure to Thrive/Pediatric Recovery Clinic. I was last here in November 2009 so I was anxious to get over to the clinic and see my kids! This is the first time that I have been here when there hasn't been a team for the three weeks before us and I was surprised at what a difference I saw in the kids. Many of them seemed withdrawn. Caroline, who is a current volunteer and was also on a team last month, said that she noticed regression in some of the kids. If ever I needed reminding what a difference we make, this was it. I may not, specifically, make a difference to these beautiful children but having the continuity of volunteers here does have a huge impact on their lives. Of course, I would like to think that I personally do make a little difference. They sure have all made a difference in my life.