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.