Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dearest friends,

We are currently in US, Saint-Paul for the AST (all staff training). We enjoy the weather (we mean that, we love snow) and seeing our colleagues. At the same time we miss the children and we are thinking of them. Today in Romania we celebrate Saint-Nicholas and this is the time of the year when children get little presents in their cleaned and polished boots. Well, since we are not there to slip something in their little shoes/boots we can still think of them, keep them in our souls and prayers and hopefully to hug and kiss them very soon. Dan and I will do it in a few days!
Mihaela and Dan

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Journal by: Cora Thompson


The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children. Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Over the weekend I rested my sore, swollen knee and thought long and hard about why I'd agreed to extending my time here to three weeks. Sharon and I shared a walk Saturday, much slower than I'm sure she's used to doing, to take photos of the beautiful flowers, watch people, buy some supplies for our suite at the pediatric hospital and Romanian-made chocolates for gifts at home. Sunday I spent reading one of the novels I'd brought on the trip, finishing Genesis 1 for the class that will start without me 9/15, talking to my husband by cell phone, and resting the knee and the back. I shared meals with Sharon and heard about her long walks around Barlad. The debris from Saturday evening's long wedding reception into almost breakfast time Sunday was cleared so we could enjoy our meals. What fun to watch our favorites, Catalin and Elena and others set up for the reception and then bustle around reorganizing the dining area. Perhaps, I thought, the companionship of two Midwestern, retired nurse practitioners sharing all these traditions was the reason I'd felt the need to stay three weeks.

Monday I received an even better answer! We arrived fresh and found that Irene, a hospital aide, had the children in clean clothes, fed, in chairs or bouncy rocker. Ionutz was especially cute in his pristine sleeper and ready to be held. He would leave to return to the placement center at our lunch time. Then the nurse brought Carmen into the room in her stroller and told us Carmen needed watching because she'd just had a grand mal seizure. Neither Sharon nor I have the physical strength to get this 9 year old out of the belt and tie that holds her in her stroller. The nurse was summoned. After much verbal exchange neither of us understood completely, the nurse showing me what to do if Carmen had a seizure and my explaining I know what to do for any child seizuring but how do I get her out of the stroller if she does, we understood each other....Call HELP or NURSE and we'll come. I can do that!!!

Carmen walks, walks fairly well, just a little unsteady on her feet so my new assignment was to hover to prevent her from falling if imbalanced. I can do that too. But what Carmen wanted was to be held, cuddled, rocked. She slept in my arms while I sang children's songs, church songs, and a singsong "Te iubesc, Carmen. Ne te teme" over and over. For the first time I truly felt fulfilled and knew I'd been given not only the reason for the extended stay but also a purpose. What a blessing!

Marion then took over the high-backed rubbery chair to help strengthen his head lag. He looked like an astronaut belted in for flight. He continues to be a lovable, happy child. Marty isn't happy but Sharon spent lots of time with him. We even had him on the floor mat to stretch and do physical therapy. Samy spent a lot of time in the playpen in time-out for trying to decaptitate his roomies with a nude Barbie doll. Gabi spent time meandering from one activity to another. She showed some jealousy today when Sharon was working with Marty. Maria Cleopatra won't let me feed her. She's definitely Coca's baby girl.

I returned Carmen to the nurses' station as we prepared to leave for lunch. Just before we departed, I went into the bedroom to get a wet wipe for her face and came back to her nosebleed. Hey, I know how to deal with that, too! She'd scratched her inner right nostril so bleeding was easy to control.

A glorious day.

Tuesday Coca was back from a few days' off and we were so happy to see her. Although we pretty much repeated yesterday's stretching on the floor mat for Marion and Marty, Sharon walking the halls with either Samy or Gabi, we watched Marion on his belly raise up on his elbows and when Coca put his knees down on the mat, he almost crawled. A second blessing this week. With a little time and encouragement, Marion will regain lots of neck muscle control and might even crawl and turn over again. Samy climbed upon the bed in the bedroom and retrieved the pufeteles, corn puff sticks that dissolve in one's mouth.

I again brushed Carmen's hair then held, rocked, sang while she napped in my lap, clutching my scrub top. Dr Cozma, a really neat lady, examined throats and listened to chests on all but Carmen. Dr C said, "We'll let her sleep" according to the nurse with her.

I missed the short afternoon since our weather has turned unhealthily hot, 36 degrees Celsius, and I hadn't consumed enough water so back to the room a.c. and bottled water for me. Our dinner out was at Alona which offers a Bulgarian salad that's scrumptious. The Romanian donuts were delicious, too.

Wednesday has been pretty much the same including the high heat and no air movement on this third floor. Sharon walking Gabi then Samy in the halls. She took Samy into the playroom where there were older kids and different toys but he was removed for throwing things. His IV Heplock's out of his foot so he walks comfortably. But he's spending a lot of time in time-outs and also now has his crib turned around so the solid wood back is facing the room since he climbed out of the crib. But Samy's expressions are so cute!!! Marion sat in his astronaut chair and spent some time on the floormat moving around. He didn't sleep last night so an aide got him up when we came this morning, and we kept him busy all morning. Sharon entertained Marty by rocking his bouncy chair with one foot while she played with Gabi. Coca sat in a chair with Maria C in the playroom with us this morning. And Carmen, after walking and my hovering, actually reached her arms up to me to be picked up. We rocked, I sang, she slept. Ah, life is good.

Thursday: Dan fixed the fan!! Hallelujah!! Then, after we returned from lunch, we got in trouble with an aide who indicated the blowing fan would give the kids earaches. What apparently had happened was Samy had turned the fan downward while we were gone and when we returned, the aides soon entered with food so we weren't even aware of the fan blowing down. We readjusted the fan to blow over OUR heads right before the nurse appeared.

Carmen enjoyed the morning walks in the hall then a nap in my arms at her insistence by reaching up and pulling on my scrub top. She patted my face and mouth. She would stop racing down the hall long enough to look at and feel the Disney tiles along the way. Marion did his rolling on the floor and almost, again, turned himself over. Marty stretched his arms high overhead and now his legs are stretching outward more. Samy walked the halls this morning with Dan which seemed to help reduce his energy level. Maria C is still Coca's baby. Gabi had time in the halls walking in shoes with Sharon.

Supper at Garamondo's with Dan was delicious....a tomato/cucumber/feta cheese salad, grilled chicken legs minus the bones with sauteed mushrooms, and REAL LIPTON GOLD tea. The waiter dumped my teabag so I had to produce my own for a second cup. Sleep came easily. Sprinkling outside.

Friday: The day started off beautifully, cool, sunny so I people-watched from the hotel front steps until Dan arrived. We saw a gypsy lady in a dress with so many gold pieces that she sparkled all the way up then down the street.

The children were a little whiny and wanted lots of individiual attention, especially Marty who likes being held, rocked in his bouncy chair. I told Sharon she'd created a monster. Marion turned over AGAIN while on the floor mat. Samy and Gabi had walks in the hall then kept us busy finding things for them to do in the room. Sharon spent much of the morning with Gabi. After getting Marion to exercise and rocking Marty with my foot on his chair, I finally had time for Carmen who wanted nothing more than to be held while she slept.

We then moved Carmen to the twin bed in the bedroom area where she slept the rest of the time I was there while I sat in a small chair beside her. She was still asleep when I left at 1 p.m.

We three ate lunch together rather late, said good-bye to Catalin (aka Adrian) who was leaving his work in the dining room to take tests. He wants to teach sports. We wish his Godspeed. We sat and listened to Dan talk about recent Romanian history.

Tonight we dine with Mihaela and say good-bye to Elena, our waitress whom we've also enjoyed. Then I'll pack. Tomorrow around 8:30 a.m. Dan and Dorel will come to transport us to Rin Airport Motel in Otopeni-Bucharest where we'll spend the night and leave by shuttle at 4 a.m. for flights to the United States. Dan and Dorel will pick up the next team, 9 of them, after dropping us off. My flights will be long, 24 hours of jets and airports.

I feel sad about leaving but am also very happy to go home. I've enjoyed the Romanian people I've met and I've watched, the two cats out in the nearby yard I've fed, even some TV programs I've watched since we don't watch TV at home. Most of all, I'm taking a piece of each child home in my heart, and I thank God for this opportunity to return to and to serve in Romania.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Journal by: Sharon Conard


The purpose of human life is to serve and show compassion and the will to help others. ~Albert Schweitzer

Monday, 9/12: Started the week on a very good note. Walked into the playroom and every child was up in a chair of some type. They now seem to know our voices as they smile and laugh when we walk in and say "Good Morning." All the children ate a good lunch. Ionutz left for the placement center after he finished eating. Carmen had a seizure (grand mal) before she came into the playroom. The nurse had her up and walking two times today. She really does very well. Samy got another "time out" for his agressive behavior. After a while he did settle down. Gabi is walking like a pro but still wants to hold onto one finger. Marty was up all day except during naptime. I can't now get him to hold onto a block which helps loosen his hand and wrist muscles/tendons. He has a really cute laugh when you tickle him.

Tuesday, 9/13: All is well today. Everyone is in a good mood except for Samy. He is definitely the "wild child" today. His biggest thing is throwing objects of all types and received several time outs for his actions. Gabi walked several times in the hall today by only holding onto my one finger. I don 't think I can get her to walk by herself before I leave but I'm still trying. Marion slept a good portion of the day, still working on his turning completely over. Marty seems to be increasing his upper body and neck strength. Unable to wrok his legs due to severe contractures, was very "ticklish" today with a beautiful laugh. Carmen is walking by herself with close supervision. She seems to be getting more sure of herself, loves to cuddle with Cora.

Wednesday, 9/14: No real changes today. Everyone spent the day in their chairs except for naptime. Carmen, Samy, and Gabi all walked. Everyone received some type of physical therapy. Appetites were good, and, speaking of appetities, Samy was in rare form at supper. Supper was macaroni and cheese. Since Samy has a tendency to snort mucous out of his nose at any given time, he proceeded to snort macaroni from both his nostrils. There was macaroni hanging out of his nose and mucous all over the front of the aide's uniform. For a few seconds, none of us knew quite how to react. We all wanted to laugh (but we knew we shouldn't). Needless to say, he was politely scolded. Kept Marion up most of the day as he didn't sleep last nkight due to his long nap yesterday afternoon.

Thursday, 9/15: Good day today. All the children seem to be in a good mood today. Even Samy was at his best although he did have a sneeze episode whereby he sneezed his lunch out of his nose. Carmen walked down the hall with Cora. She seems to get more coordinated each day. Marty has been stretching his arms and legs with and without command. Then he gets all excited when you praise him. The pediatric neurologist was in the morning and said he would be needing surgery to correct his pectus excavatum. Gabi is doing well with her walking but still not by herself. Marion is still working on turning over. Difficult to get him to sit upright as he stiffens like a board as soon as he's picked up.

Friday, 9/16: Very quiet today, almost as if the children sense that we are leaving and this is our last day. Samy was in good spirits and behaved very well. Marion turned over by himself two times. Gabi walked down the hall with one hand holding onto my scrub pants. There is a toy in the room which plays the ABCs.and has a cuckoo bird which talks. Since she doesn't see well, she gets down on all fours and presses her nose onto the "on" button to make it work. I believe I may have spoiled Marty a little bit as he gets fussy and cries when he hears my voice. Everything is fine once I pick him up and talk to him. But "spoiling" these children is part of what this trip is all about. Cora spent the day with Carmen. She wanted to just cuddle and sleep with Cora holding her.

Well, I guess this is it!! My day is done, and my journey to Romania is finished. It has been a wonderful, rewarding experience, an experience that I will never forget. I would like to thank the Romanian people for sharing their lives, culture, and "home away from home" with me.

Until we meet again, la revedere.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Romania Week One August 27-September 3, 2011

Journal by: Sharon Conard


Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. 1 Corinthians 10:24 (NIV)

Saturday, 8/27: Arrived in Bucharest, Romania after a very long plane ride! Met Dan Cirjontu and Cora Thompson at the airport and proceeded to Barlad. Stopped for supper at McDonald's, Bacau. Arrived in Barlad around 7:30 p.m. where we proceeded to check into our hotel. A wedding reception was in progress.

Sunday, 8/28: Today we met with Mihaela. She explained the program and took us to the Children's Hospital to orient us to our surroundings. Basically hung out the rest of the day to deal with our jet lag.

Monday, 8/29: This is our first day in the hospital. I felt like a fish out of water as I wasn't sure what I could do nor had I ever dealt with neurologically impaired children. For whatever reason, I connected with a six-year-old female, Denisa, who looked to be two years and weighed approximately 20-25#. Denisa was a Fetal Alcohol Syndrome child and could not function mentally or physically. She needed to be fed although once in a while she would try to put a spoon to her mouth. She also needed to be taught to ambulate. Compared to the other children in the room, she was one of the most active. A Cerebral Palsy child (Vasile), one with hydrocephalus (Maria Cleopatra), and Vali, a child age 14 months was there for recovery after a repair of his face post-trauma.

Tuesday, 8/30: I still don't know what I'm doing but I love it here. You can't help but fall in love with these children and hope that they can feel this love in your touch and hugs. I am working with Denisa to help her to learn to walk. She gets frustrated easily. One has to back off and come back a few minutes later. She occasionally will try to pick up food and place it in her mouth. She pinches!

Wednesday, 8/31: Oh my gosh!! What a day! Some children left and new children arrived. Vali left today to have further repair of his face. "Little John" or Lonutz, age 9, returned to the placement center. Vasile also left. We received Lonutz, a Cerebral Palsy Spastic child, Marion, Ion, and Sebastian, a school-aged autistic. We kept Maria Cleopatra, Gabriella, and Denisa. Much chaos as the children "come and go." Doctors and nurses come and go, too, and Ion is running around like a crazy. All this activity, confusion and the jet lag finally catching upto me, made for a very fatiguing day.

Thursday, 9/1: Good day! Finally slept. Things have settled in the hospital, making for a comfortable environment to work. Denisa walked down the hallway two times while holding onto my hands. She would occasionally stop and look into a room with her head positioned to the side. Many times I look at her and wonder what is going on inside that beautiful head. Today I also started to work with Gabriella. She is on IV antibiotics for pharyngitis. She is unable to walk and I fear that she cannot see more than four inches away. All the children seem to have nystagmus. She seems to be very introverted and doesn't want to be bothered. She pulls away from touch and cries easily.

Friday, 9/2: Things have settled into a routine today. Denisa seems to know me as she will reach out when she hears my voice. Today she patted my back while I patted hers. She touched my cheeks and gave me a kiss on the cheek. The whole time she was smiling and laughing out-loud. She again walked the length of the hall, smilling and with much curiosity of the things she saw and heard. She looked so beautiful in her onesee and little pink skirt with high-topped shoes. I feel like I am making progress but alas, she left before noon to return to the placement center. I felt very sad and could feel tears in my eyes. I just had to get up and walk around. I could not watch her leave. After her departure, I devoted my time and energy into working with Gabriella. She must be feeling better as she is more responsive to stimuli. She laughs easily, her appetite seems to be improving, and she has taken a few steps with assistance. This afternoon we cuddled and rocked in the rocking chair as I sang to her and played "patty cake". By the end of the day I could say "patty cake" and she would clap her hands and smile. Less tears today! Hopefully I will make a small difference in her life as well as Denisa's if she should return.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Final message of the day ... -Emily

Volunteers are not paid not because they are worthless but because they are priceless. – Unknown

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Message of the Day -Emily

If you can make a commitment to try every day to make someone happy maybe eventually all the ugliness in the world will go away.

Journal by: Terri

Today was a great day! Although all the volunteers are exhausted we are still enjoying our time at the hospital.

This morning we took the children outside.

Andrea, Vali, ‘Yanuts’ and a new boy named Marion had to stay inside. Outside we sang songs (Alina loves Old MacDonald Had a Farm), played on the slide (Marius thought sliding was ‘the cat’s meow’), played on the swings (Miastra and Ion love the swings) and lazed on the blanket (Gabi, Ana Maria x 2, and Marius specifically). The kiddos ate snacks and just enjoyed the sunny day. Meal times seem to be the most chaotic times of all. Children are screaming, squealing, and guzzling bottles. J

The volunteers ate a quick lunch and took off on a whirlwind shopping trip. First stop – a quaint little boutique where Emily found a dress and Jane found a ring. Then off to the fabric store to buy fabric for crib sheets. We found some precious child-like cotton – they are going to be fabulous!

We rushed back to the hospital and even had time for an ice cream before reporting for duty! The afternoon was more of the same – Jane had an interesting game of ball with Marius. Then some volunteers and some children went outside – the new tent is especially nice in the afternoon when there is no natural shade.

After getting the kiddos back upstairs the volunteers and Michaela went on a mad rush to find a tailor to make the crib sheets. We saw parts of Barlad that may have been better left unseen. J After our unsuccessful attempts at finding a tailor we made a fabulous recovery at Laterex! (sp?) We bought small pillows for the children and a cool inside seesaw! We also found Coke Light for Terri, Mountain Dew for Emily, and chips for Jane. J

The night ended with a dinner of chicken schnitzel and French fries – a few moments of internet connection – and the beginnings of packing.

Tomorrow will bring a day of sad goodbyes but also the anticipation of our continuing journeys.

La revedere Romania. Thank you for welcoming us with open arms!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Message of the Day (Jane)

“A hug a day keeps the cardiologist away.” Dr David Hamilton.

Health research says that kindness can reduce your risk of heart disease. I find it interesting that so many kids here have heart problems. I believe our kindness is doing more than we think it is.

Journal by: Emily

Our day started out as usual, eating breakfast and chatting downstairs in the hotel. We then made our journey to the hospital. The morning passed as usual. My mom stayed inside with Ana Maria and Vali; the rest of us go outside to play. Miastra enjoyed the swings while most of the other children enjoyed spending some time in the shade on a blanket. Except Alina and Ion of course, who had to run around like crazy little maniacs. The kids enjoyed yoghurt and animal crackers before we made the journey up the 3 flights of stairs.

When we returned everyone went to play with their usual toys. Not long after we returned, an aide brought in a screaming and crying little girl dressed in a pink onesie with feet. I scooped her up and cooed in her ear that everything would be alright. She clutched me closer and cried “mama”. Soon a nurse came to give her an IV. We went downstairs for lunch. Yummy pizza! Dan later found out the little girl’s name is Andrea.

After lunch Jane, my mom and I decided to hang out on the balcony until break was over. After break we found out our sweet Nadia left. Other than that our day continued as usual. After work my mom and I went to the gas station for internet again. We ate a delicious dinner of salami, cheese and lettuce sandwiches there. Yum!

Today was a pretty good day. Can’t wait until tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Message of the Day - Terri

Our purpose in life isn’t to arrive at a destination where we find inspiration, just as the purpose of dancing isn’t to end up at a particular spot on the floor. The purpose of dancing – and of life – is to enjoy every moment and every step, regardless of where we are when the music ends. – Wayne W Dyer

Journal by: Jane

Today we set out tired, but eager to see our kids, as usual.

Everyone except Ali, Ana Maria, Carmen and Jane went outside to play until lunch, taking full advantage of the perfect weather.

The tent finally went up, and part of the lawn was mown.

During lunch Terri, Emily, Jane and Dan went to the park where everyone except Jane had a siesta.

Apart from Elena leaving, it had been an uneventful day.

We went to the “creepy doll” restaurant, Alona, for dinner and took more photos. Terri, Dan and Jane had the special dinner of the evening with delicious soup, followed by pork and mash (served with pickles) and then cake.

On the way home Dan drove us around Barlad. We saw some lovely, huge houses (Terri is going to buy one for $1/2M) and drove by the cemetery, a placement centre and a high school. The views from the expensive houses were spectacular, although the roads were a little bumpy!

I find it hard to believe that tomorrow is Wednesday and our three weeks are almost over.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Message of the Day -Jane

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

– George Bernard Shaw

Journal by: Emily

After resting during the lovely weekend my teammates Jane and Terri and I were all preparing ourselves for the day that lay ahead. My mom, Terri, told us about how she thinks she might need to see a doctor because she might have pinkeye. Yikes! Once we arrived at the hospital, Michaela and my mom left soon to go to the doctor leaving Jane, Lorry and myself to take care of 13 wild kids and toddlers. Ion and Alina were their hyperactive selves; Carmen, Elena and Big Ana Maria were very calm all day as usual; Vali and Little Ana Maria were sweet and cuddly today also.

Jane and Lorry got permission from the nurses to take Ion, Alina and Miastra outside.

The other highschool volunteers and I stayed inside with the other kiddies.

Before lunch I walked into the bedroom to find an amazing surprise! Gabi was back! I scooped her up and held her close, whispering little things in her ear. If only my mom were there to see this sweetheart again. Hopefully she will see her tomorrow.

Also before lunch, Paula left for a foster home. Surprisingly she was very excited to go. J

After our delicious lunch of soup and ham and cheese sandwiches, Jane and I enjoyed some time outside in the beautiful weather.

When break was over we returned to the hospital to play with the children once again. We played many games, helped Alina and Ion learn to do flips and fed the kids bottles.

Jane and Baby Ana Maria sure had some fun during bottle time! ;)

When work was over and we returned to the hotel to rest then eat a delicious dinner o chicken, broccoli, and rice with yummy ice cream for dessert.

After finishing dinner we made a quick trip to Lidl then returned to our rooms. I stayed in Jane’s room for a while to borrow some internet and chat with friends before going back into my room.

All in all, today went well and I am looking forward to tomorrow.

PS. Happy 4th of July America!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Message of the day- Emily

The same God who speaks to us in a still small voice also uses winks and nudges, each too good and important to miss. James Whitefield

Journal by: Terri

This morning started off with our usual breakfast chatter.

The realization that our team is going to be down by one half next week weighs heavily on my mind. When Dan arrives we sing Happy Birthday (only 9 days early) and present him with his birthday card. As we are waiting for the taxi to arrive it once again strikes me that next week no taxi will be needed.

We arrived at the clinic ready to work with the dear active children who arrived yesterday. Ion is a handful! He is in a fabulous mood today though. Soon after we arrive he discovers the bubbles in the drawer. The bubble blowing begins! Miastra loves to stare at one individual bubble until it pops and immediately demands another be blown. Marius giggles and claps the bubbles with his hands. Alena enjoys watching the bubbles from afar. Ion watches for a few seconds and then tries to pry the wand from your hand. All of the children grow tired of bubbles – except Miastra, who screams when she is taken away from the bubbles for a medical exam and continues to scream when she comes back until bubbles are blown again.

The morning continues with volunteers singing, drawing, taking field trips down the hallway, etc! Feeding time seems to be one of the most hectic times fo the day. Paula and Alena are the only 2 stickla (bottle) eaters who eat without assistance and Ion is the only sold food eater who eats without assistance.

After the children are placed in cribs or in the playroom the volunteers had a quick soup and pizza lunch. We then went back upstairs for a farewell celebration with the doctors, nurses and aides. Dan chose 2 delicious cakes and various other goodies from Berlin and the pastry shop upstairs. The manager of the hospital, Dr Magda, made a speech thanking the volunteers and asking us to understand that any mistakes were due to miscommunication and she is confident things will get better with time.

After the party Kerry, Krista, Lorry and Jennéa walked to a nearby gas station to use the internet. Emily, Jane and I took advantage of the break time by relaxing at the hospital.

The afternoon passed quickly as everyone kept busy trying to contain and amuse the children. The aides were busy cleaning in anticipation of being short handed over the weekend. We moved most of the children into the playroom so their bedrooms could be cleaned.

The afternoon snack came a little later than usual – feeding the children cereal with milk was somewhat of a challenge. J I think more milk was absorbed by clothing than actually swallowed!

The hectic afternoon left little time for our teammates to become emotional about their last day.

After showers we were together for our last dinner. The conversation was lively as always even though we were physically and emotionally tired. The Viennese chicken dish was delicious. We toasted one another and took our last pictures together. La revedere Kerry, Krista and Jennéa – you will be missed!

This weekend was a lazy one, filled with sleeping, a trip to the Penny Market and walks to the gas station/internet café. Hopefully we will all be prepared and well rested for the coming week!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Message of the day -Terri

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened. ~Dr Seuss

Journal by: Jennéa

As I begin writing this journal I cannot believe that our second week here is coming to an end! Time flies in Romania!

So much happened yesterday. The morning was a little slow at first and sure we were all still hurting from the absence of 3 wonderful little girls: Michaela, Gabriella and Katerina. Now there seemed not to be enough babies to go around. However, little did we know that things would really be changing right before lunch time.

At around 11:30 or 12:00, 7 little ones were brought in! Their ages range from a couple of years to 9 years old and their personalities are just as diverse. A few (if not most) of these children stayed at the Tutova Clinic so Dan is an old friend. It was so great to watch the volunteers to spring into action and scoop up a child or two to comfort and play with them.

The weather here has not been that great this week. It’s been cold with rain. Yesterday it was raining cats and dogs. (I wonder if that translates into Romanian?) So, because of the downpour we were unable to take the children outside. However, the weather “in Maine” doesn’t look as bad as today so hopefully we can bring the children outside tomorrow. J

After lunch we played with the children some more. There was a small crisis in the hospital as they ran out of diapers and the makeshift ones were not cutting it. But with Dan and some volunteers to the rescue, the crisis was averted.

We left the little ones at 5 and were ready for dinner at 6. Dinner was at the “G” restaurant and this time we were joined by our friend Lorry, a teenager (16) from Romania who has volunteered with us these past two weeks. She is very kind and generous and gave us each a small Romanian flag. It has a suction cap on a chain so the flag can be mounted on any hard surface. At first I wanted to put it on my car but now I think I want to put it on my bathroom mirror so that when I wake up in the morning I can reflect and remember the memories as well as lessons and morals I have learned during my time here. I can’t help getting a little sad that I am leaving with two other volunteers on Saturday. I need to remind myself that there is still another whole day here. We’ll make the most of it and cherish every moment. Also, goodbyes are not forever.

Buna sera and until next time.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Message of the day – Krista

The [wo]man in the mirror can make a change in the world

Lyrics from Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”

I’m gonna make a change
For once in my life
It’s gonna feel real good,
Gonna make a difference
Gonna make it right…

I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself,
and then make a change.

“The purpose of life is not to be happy – but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you lived at all.” – Leo Rosten

Journal by: Kerry

Today started out early for me as I misread my watch and came down for breakfast at 7am instead of 8. After a few empty moments, a light bulb went off in my head and I realized my mistake. Oh well, a little more time to catch Wimbledon matches.

Breakfast came with delight. Terri and I with our oranges and cereal for the rest! Coffee and more coffee! Jane still feeling under the weather, so she will rest again today. Poor baby! I have to just say that the women I have come to know are “extraordinary”. Selfless, caring and enthusiastic are just some of the words that come to mind!

And so we made our way to St Nick’s to find the children waiting with open arms full of energy.

Terri and I went to see Raul first to witness and to help Coca change his many bandages. This sweet baby was inconsolable, screaming in sheer pain. But our steady “Mama” cooed and went about the necessary regimen cleaning, medicating and quickly rebandaging his many lesions. With such finesse and care she forged ahead through his tears, his screams and his absolute anger. Once clothes were on, she held him and cooed him with such grace. She is a saint!!!

Once upstairs the morning continued with giggles, play and soft touch.

There was a visit from an older couple looking to observe our dear Paola as prospective parents so we shall see…

Morning passed, bottles distributed and we all convened for lunch. Salad and turkey served, we then took a quick trip to observe a placement centre nearby. A nice social worker took us on a tour and we entered one of the “homes” full of well-taken care of children. To our great surprise, some of our past cherubs were there, getting lots of hugs and kisses. Sammy was my highlight. He was such a gracious host!

As we returned early, the fresh air begged us to breathe. And then the sad news that we were losing 3 of the children. Gabby, Michaela and Katerina were being released. Some of us went to say goodbye and some chose to stay outside quietly. Our sweet Emily found it difficult and chose to sit quietly. When they came out with their guides, Gabby and Michaela came over for more kisses with Coca. It all happened so fast!

The afternoon sped by with more feedings and lots of love! Another day is done and all looked forward to some well deserved rest. Till tomorrow, my friends!

PS. I must apologize, for I think I have messed up the sequence of events! Pardon!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Message of the day - Jennéa

You can do no great things, only small things with great love. – Mother Theresa

If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito. – Betty Reese

Journal by: Krista

Today is not an ordinary day. It’s a special day for one of our Lovies. It’s Elena’s birthday. As we all sign her Disney princess birthday card, I wonder how many of her birthdays have gone unnoticed.

But since she has become a member of the Global Volunteers family, we will do more than notice her. We spend the morning paying attention to her and all our little ones. Jennéa holds Cleo and helps the massage therapist work on her back. Lorry helps Big Man aka Vali walk. Kerry, unable to get that spa appointment for Nadia, does the next best thing for her- she touches and talks to her non-stop while keeping the birthday girl entertained. Jane, who unfortunately still feels under the weather (and as it is bad, grey, cold weather, she is really hurting) spends special cradling time with Ana and Gabby. Emily helps Mihi do gymnastics flips into one crib while lifting Paula in and out of another crib. Terri gives one on one time with Raoul, who is thrilled not only for the always positive playmate but also fro the soothing medicine Global Volunteers generously provided. Krista draws portraits and instigates a dance party with the older children (Katerina, Gabriella, Bordge and Albert) who Global Volunteers have informally adopted from St Nicholas Hospital. Everyone introduces herself to our newest family member Carmen, who is an 8 year old darling girl with epilepsy. Even though her blindness causes her eyes to fail her, we are all surprised that her legs are strong. She is a terrific walker. If Sammy were still here, Carmen would be a formidable competitor in Global Volunteers’ Special Olympic walking contest.

After Dan’s announcement that pizza was for lunch, us volunteers could have won a power walking competition. We were at lunch in a flash. While we devoured pizza and chocolate, we learn about Romania’s health system. Like healthcare around the world, Romania’s system has room for improvements, namely when it comes to realistic access to free programs and reimbursement timings, which virtually force every parent to pay immediately out of pocket or allow their children to go without proper treatment.

During lunch Jane has to go home to recover. Kerry and Jennéa walk Barlad and the TN ladies stay with Krista at the hospital. Sitting on our “changing of slippers” bench at the hospital, we see many patients climb up the stairs. All the pajamas start to look alike. The hospital must mandate that all children and their parents must wear PJs so as to keep everything more clean.

If our Lovies were in their PJs, they would be ready to change. They are up from their naps and ready to make sure we accomplish our first team goal – to love the children.

At our favorite restaurant, we enjoy hearty Italian or heavenly desserts while we discuss all four of our team goals. I would give us a pretty good report card thus far.




Love the children

Given the amount of smiles when we are present and the loud wails when we leave, I think it’s clear the Lovies feel loved.


Embrace Romanian culture

Yes, our trip to the Painted monasteries and Iasi gave us much insight into this beautiful country. But our learning through Dan, Michaela, Lorry and walks in Barlad give us even more. Now, we all just need to master more than ‘good morning’ in Romanian.


Meet new people and work effectively as a team

We know a lot about each other now. We even know who is Team Edward, Team Jacob, or Team “What’s Twilight?”.

We work joyfully as a group of 9 but can compensate when we are only 4.


Pay it forward

Besides all our donations and the “Farewell Teddy Bear” idea, we have not yet had the opportunity to pay it forward. But I am sure the team – through blogs, fundraising or returning to volunteer – will pay forward hundreds, thousands of lei.


Even such a praise-worthy report card makes for a lame birthday present. If I could give one present or one wish to each remaining Global Volunteer, here would be my shopping list:

Dan & Michaela: A bright, splendid Tutova-like atmosphere on the 1st floor of St Nicholas Hospital

Terri: The ability to come to Romania each year to share her gifts and talents with the children

Jennéa: A successful career in maternal health – we need more thoughtful worldly and smart public health workers in that field

Emily: A marching band scholarship to her TN and a fabulous first date back from Romania with her boyfriend

Jane: Great lasting health and all the underground world she wants

Kerry: Her husband or her husband’s ability to look down on her and see all her adventures with her

And more importantly, for the babies and children of Global Volunteers, I wish them MANY, MANY more birthdays that are filled with health, happiness, comfort and opportunities than can continually improve their lives.

For those volunteers who have left:

Katie Bray: Her coveted investment banking on Wall Street for a few years. Then a career she can use her boundless energy and empathy to help children

Bradley: Almost nothing because his maturity, work ethic and positive attitude will already get him everywhere he wants to go!

Bob: Understanding of how much his contributions – from donations to kitchen building to biking across the US to introducing another generation to Romania – have had an impact.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Message of the day – Kerry

Beannacht (“Blessing”) by John O’Donohue (Echoes of Memory)

On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance to balance you.

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the host of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

Journal by: Jane

Friday was quiet with all the big kids gone. We were lucky that their leaving coincided with Bob, Brad and Katie Bray’s departure as it would have been tough looking after all of them with a smaller team.

The team had decided to visit the Painted Monasteries which meant leaving just after lunch on Friday. The week had been hot so we were looking forward to the drive through the cooler mountains.

Part way through the drive, we got a little more than anyone expected though when the skies began pelting the van and everything else with marble-sized hail!

Eventually we made it to the Hotel Reuben. It was still raining the next day but we didn’t let the weather dampen our enthusiasm at the prospect of visiting the monasteries. Our first visit was the Humor Monastery, known as the ‘red’ for its predominant use of red in the paintings.

Our guide Florin filled us in on the history of each monastery we visited. Next was the Voronet (blue) and finally the Sucevita (green).

After lunch we also visited the Ceramica Margenia for its exclusive black pottery. After shopping, Emily tried her hand at making her own and made a bowl, which we gingerly placed in the back of the van and hoped for the best for it returning in one piece.

We then headed to Iasi. Sunday brought us a buffet breakfast with two types of chocolate cereal, amongst a host of other choices.

After checking out we walked around the city and visited Romania’s largest church, which was in the middle of a six hour service. It was crowded with worshippers. We then went to an open air art market and saw the Palace of Culture.

Then, especially to Jennéa’s delight, we went to the mall. Lunch was at an Italian place in the mall and then we headed to Carrefour to spend our donation money on things for the clinic.

Tired but satisfied, we drove the remaining two hours back to Barlad.

Monday both Jane and Jennéa were sick and missed the hospital visit but were brought up to speed over dinner. Sammy had gone to the placement centre, Ana Maria’s dad visited, and some new children arrived but hadn’t been met yet. Mihi loved the new bike and had an accident with the new sippy cup.

We’re looking forward to Tuesday!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Message of the day – Brad

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.

Journal by:
(Katie Bray)

Today was a tough day. We woke up, had an ordinary breakfast and while Kerry, Brad and Emily went to the high school, the rest of us went to the clinic.

We got to the clinic and were greeted by smiling faces and lots of laughs. Jennéa played with her little partner, Sebby, Krista and I stayed in the nursery and occupied Sunshine, Mihaela, Dedika, Nina and Paula with coloring, hand printing and lots of games. Bob played with Alex and Terri and Jane played with the others.

After meds and doctors, we went out and sat with the ‘kopii’ on the blanket. Foster parents came and tried to take Georgi, but he was crying for his mama. They let him go inside. We all went inside and the kids were taken by various foster parents! It was so emotional. Some of us had to leave the room because of our tears. Denisa was so upset to be separated from her mom and her brothers. It was all so sad and upsetting to watch.

Lunch came and went with hot dogs and soup. Krista and Jennéa went for a walk in the park, Bob napped and Jane, Terri and I rested on the balcony chatting about the day’s events.

After such an emotionally draining day for me, Kerry, Brad and Emily returned and we ended our work day.

Dinner was wonderful at the new Italian restaurant where we met up with Dr D. Desserts were splendid.

Thank you all for making this experience so very special to me. Good luck these next few weeks.

La revedere!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Message of the day – Kerry

The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Journal by: Krista

You could tell it was ‘hump day’ as you looked around Team 168’s breakfast table – Terri felt a bit sick; Kerry had 3 coffees; Krista’s eyes kept closing until her chocolate cereal arrived. But after the youngins (Brad and Katie) delivered the recap and message of the day, we were ready to scurry to the hospital and live by Katie Bray’s words to freely give our love to the children – through countless hugs, hours of playing outside and that one extra throw in the air (when our arms are aching so much we fear we may not catch the kid on his way back down).

Once at the hospital, we climb the 52 stairs to ‘our little lovees’. Even though we have only been here for two other days, we are welcomed with big smiles and literally outstretched arms. Mihi leans across the aide holding her to get to her buddy Emily. The amazing blonde duo of Sebi and Jennéa eventually find each other. Mr Sammy almost seems to know it is time to get on his red Pope shoes and walk with Kerry, who is determined to get him entered into a marathon by 2025. And ‘The Wild Ones’ have gotten even wilder, with obvious delight, as they spot their favorite playmates – Brad and Katie.

It is clear already that our team’s first goal – to love the children and heal them through many doses of smiles – is already being accomplished.

After our Picassos and Rembrandts in-the-making finish their drawings, we are off to play outside. A chorus, lead by Michaela and her beautiful daughter Dahlia, convenes on a picnic blanket. A short train – aka the buggy crew – wheel up and down the little path. The energetic rest ping pong around from the swings, to running, to the merry-go-round to the swings again. By 12:30, all the adults, wiping the sweat off our brows, are ready for lunch time.

At lunch we are treated to a local specialty – an olive and potato salad – made by Michaela’s mother. What warm and gracious hosts we have!

With bellies filled, we divide into two groups. One group revisits a happy, prideful past by touring the ‘former’ clinic – Tutova. There, the esteemed Dr D, a normally stoic woman, visually displays what everyone is thinking inside. As she welcomes Bob – a long time volunteer, generous donor and constant actions-speak-louder-than-words man – with a big hug, tears well up in her eyes. The other group ends up talking about the future and what improvements can be done to the hospital to make it more similar to Tutova. As we discuss and tour the hopeful new play rooms, it becomes clear that each person in our group will do his or her part to give back to Global Volunteer’s Romanian program in one way or another – if it is through donations for the new room, or if it is spreading the message about our children, or if it is returning again to volunteer.

Team 168 is truly made up of uniquely remarkable hummingbirds who will give and give however they can.

After giving more sweat, ice cream, stroller pushes and laughter to the kids, it is time to leave. During the goodbye time, we all play a form of dodge ball, trying to get out of the rooms as quickly as possible so as to avoid the outstretched hands in the cribs or the requests for more games.

The night’s dinner, even including the debates over the best movies and Bob’s helpful advice on how to avoid gypsies, is the shortest thus far. We all seem thankful as it gives us some down time.

During our downtime, I am sure many reflect on our experience so far. For me, the three most poignant reflections are:Love is indeed free and comes in many forms, so we must always remember to open our love pocketbook as wide as possible.

~Love is indeed free and comes in many forms, so we must always remember to open our love pocketbook as wide as possible.

~The members of Team 168 come from all different walks/places in life but we are all eager to make positive impacts on Romanian children.

~The amount of life/soul learning done on this trip can be far more valuable than any BA or MBA or high powered job.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Message of the day – Katie Bray

Nothing’s free in life except love. Money doesn’t buy happiness.

Because you can love the children endlessly… the children may not be able to buy much but the love they accept from all of us is a privilege.

Journal by: Bradley

Today was the second day at the hospital. Everyone woke up and had breakfast at 8. We arrived at the hospital by 9:30. Some of the kids that have not been here for that long seemed to have settled in a bit more. The kids did not seem to be as crazy as they were the day before, partly because the tennis balls were ‘missing’. We went outside again with most of the kids. We came back inside and they ate.

We ate when the kids went down for their nap. Lunch was soup followed by pizza. After lunch most of us went back to the public garden. After our break, we returned to the hospital and were greeted by well-rested kids that were full of energy.

After an hour and a half of playing with the kids, we had to leave early because we were going out to dinner. We returned to the hotel to get ready for dinner. We left at 6:15. We then enjoyed a great dinner and returned home to get some sleep.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Message of the day – Krista - Krista’s favorite Chinese Parable

One day an elephant saw a hummingbird lying on its back with its tiny feet up in the air.

“What are you doing?” asked the elephant.

“I heard that the sky might fall today, and so I am ready to help hold it up, should it fall” replied the hummingbird.

The elephant laughed cruelly. “Do you really think,” he said, “that those tiny feet could help hold up the sky?”

The hummingbird kept her feet up in the air, intent on her purpose, as she replied, “Not alone. But each must do what she can. And this is what I can do.”

Journal by: Jennéa

The first day at the hospital.

Today was the first day at the hospital where it was every volunteer’s first visit to this location. Before we met the kids we all met with Dr Magda, the Director/Manager of the hospital. She gave us a very warm welcome.

There have been some great highlights of the trip, seeing Romania and meeting new people, but seeing and meeting the children at the hospital this morning was probably the biggest highlight for us all. The children are so loveable and playful. I really wish I understood Romanian right about now. It’s frustrating trying to communicate with toddlers but adding in a language barrier makes for an interesting game of charades!

At the hospital we played with the children inside and outside. Some of the children have no fear at all! They were swinging so high on the swings that all the volunteers got nervous. After we played outside we came inside to eat. Some of the babies will only eat while lying down – due to habit.

After the children ate, we ate. I really enjoyed the soup.

Then, since the children were napping, we went for a walk. The majority of us went with Dan to a gorgeous park. This park is almost like Barlad’s version of Central Park in New York. In the park is a restaurant and here Terri, Emily and Jane were able to find their long lost cokes – even if they weren’t diet or zero.

We made our way back to the clinic around 3pm and had 2 hours to play with the beautiful children. I can easily say playing with the children and making them laugh is the best part of the trip so far.

I can’t wait to go back tomorrow!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Quote of the day:

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." ~Anne Frank

Journal by: Kerry

Fathers’ day at home (USA)

Team met at 11:30 going over terms and regulations related to our service with the children. It was also a chance to get to know each other, listening and sharing a bit of ourselves.

We took a short walk into town for lunch at a great restaurant. The heat was way up there, but we had a great breeze to keep the air moving.

After a small rest we gathered in our dining room to welcome Bob, Bradley and Katie Bray who have just arrived from Bucharest. Dan repeated some of the highlights for our new members and then led us on an exercise in Individual and Common Goals. Many of us realize that we are in someone else’s home and we must remain vigilant in respecting our hosts and children, learning as much as possible and then most important, loving the children.

Chicken and rice was served for dinner and ice cream for dessert. After dinner, Dan ran down the list of children, describing their strengths as well as their differences. The team appears to be enthusiastic, caring and eager to begin our service.

One last remark I would like to make is that it is amazing the different corners of the United States and Australia we all come from. Some of us have dreamed of this service for some time while others are just beginning their journeys. How absolutely remarkable.