Friday, January 27, 2012

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


A strong woman knows she has the strength enough for the journey, but a woman of strength knows it is the journey where she will become strong.



We enjoyed another fun and busy day. We began the day meeting the new nursing students who will be spending 3 weeks training in the hospital. They were very friendly and it was nice to not be the “new ones” for once and we were actually able to demonstrate to them how some things are done, and what activities the children enjoy. One exciting event was we observed Marius imitate one of the older children building with the blocks. This was very interesting because his typical activity with the blocks, no matter how many times we demonstrate how to build with them is to dump them out and then put them back in the bag. With the extra help we were able to look for pictures in magazines to use for our English lesson with the middle school students on Wednesday. The older children from the floor enjoyed trying to identify the pictures in Romanian and English. After lunch and our daily coffee and cake we explored the grocery store nearby the hospital. We were in awe of all the different kinds of cured meats the grocery store carried. We also went on a hunt for peanut butter which we were told was not available in Romania. Sure enough, none could be found. As Americans, we were perplexed by how others could joyfully go on with life without our much loved peanut butter! When we arrive after lunch the younger children were still napping so Laura began an English lesson with Postolache. She would name an animal in English, and he would write it in English and then in Romanian. He is a very smart boy!

Blog 3

Quote of the day

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." - Leo Buscaglia


Laura and I started Friday with our daily stair and walk the hall of our Hotel workout. We are hoping that this will counteract our new habit of dessert after lunch at Berlin pastry shop where we walk to every day. Wishful thinking I know. After breakfast we headed to the hospital to see our kids. Cleo was in much better spirits today and was back to her smiley self. Delia was a bit more fussy that usual, but after Coca applied some teething medicine she was much better. Laura took Marius on some walks around the hospital and he loved that. In fact, after he learned that by grasping her hand she would go almost where ever he wanted, he didn’t want to stop. While she was doing that I rocked with Luca and talked to Cleo. Friday afternoon we headed to Bran. We checked in to our charming villa, and then walk to town for dinner. Saturday, I took in the towns sites, read and napped while Dan and Laura visited Peles Castle. Dan made us a wonderful dinner of garlic chicken which we had with kiwi, bread and cheese. Sunday we headed to Brasov and saw the Black Church and did some souvenir shopping. On our way back to Barlad we stopped and bought some kurtis kolac, which I loved. It is sweet bread made into a long, hollow tube, rolled in honey, and then they add nuts, coconuts or cinnamon.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Darci Lechner on Romania service program -hospital

Quote of the Day:

“Tell everyone you know: 'My happiness depends on me, so you’re off the hook.' And then demonstrate it. Be happy, no matter what they’re doing. Practice feeling good, no matter what. And before you know it, you will not give anyone else responsibility for the way you feel – and then, you’ll love them all. Because the only reason you don’t love them, is because you’re using them as your excuse to not feel good.” ~Abraham Hicks

Journal: January 18, 2012

Today was a bit different than our first two days. When we arrived some of the children were still sleeping, and the others were not as active. Maybe we wore the kids out as much as they wore us out on Tuesday! This worked out fine though because this gave us some one on one time to work with the Physical Therapist. She gave my teammate and I each a lesson on how to do the physical therapy moves on the children, and then supervised us while we practiced the new skills we learn. We were very sad that one of the children we worked with, Elena left us to go back to the children’s home. A new girl who is twelve, Hannah, joined us today. Laura spent much of the morning getting acquainted with Hannah and helping her get familiar with the new environment and children. I spent most of the morning rocking and snuggling with Luca, who was not as active as the previous two days. After lunch Luca was back to his active self, so Laura worked on walking with him, and then let him practice on his own in the walker. He enjoyed that very much, but that kept Laura busy because in many ways he is a typical toddler…going after everything in the room, trash, diapers, clothes, that he was not suppose to. I work with Hannah on some simple following direction and mimicking exercises. This started out well, but she quickly learned it was more fun to be defiant and prove to me she was in control. Tomorrow I will try to find some more reinforcers that I can use with her, and hopefully I can find some things that are more important to her than control.

Alexis Agnew posts about Romania service program

Friday, January 6, 2012

The week is winding down and I felt by mid-week that my body had gotten used to the time change. It took a couple of days, but I also feel like I’m getting into the swing of things at the hospital as well. The city of Barlad is a lot different than my home, Boston. It’s a welcomed change though. The best part about my hotel room is the view. In the morning, I am able to look out the window and see the sun come up over the city. Shades of pink, yellow and orange illuminate the sky and add color to the landscape. Immediately, the differences between home and Barlad become apparent. The houses are built close together and most have smoke flowing out of the chimneys. The skyline seems to be dominated by churches with industrial type buildings mixed in intermittently. My teammates and I congregate in the hotel restaurant for breakfast. Having been here before, Michelle and Keagan have been a huge help to me. When the weather is nicer, we opt to walk to the hospital. Locals overhear our conversations in English and some offer up a “hello”. Having traveled to other parts of Europe, I can definitely say that the people of Barlad are some of the most friendly I’ve encountered. Everyone from the nurses and aides at the hospital to the hotel staff to the employees at local stores make a valiant effort to converse with us. Keagan and Michelle introduced me to a delicious cafĂ©, Berlin. The coffee and pastries here are awesome! This is a typical hang out spot during our lunch period.

I have to say that the hospital is my favorite place to be though. The staff is so friendly which leads me to believe that our help is genuinely appreciated. The best part upon our arrival in the morning and after lunch is the expressions on the children’s faces. Alina squeals with delight, Delia’s face could light up an entire room and Gabi offers up her shy smile. This reaction elicits a feeling that can’t be replicated any anything else here. It becomes obvious why programs like Global Volunteers exist. These children are absolutely amazing and are elated to see us each and every day. While the children clearly benefit from this program, the volunteers do as well. For me, this experience has made me more appreciative of what I have and also how important it is to give back. These children don’t long for expensive toys or fancy outfits, they just want companionship. It is important to remember that the most important things in life aren’t actually things and are typically free, they just cost a little time.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Yesterday was Keagan and Michelle’s last day and it was a bit sad for all of us. The kids weren’t feeling too well either. Luca didn’t have much of an appetite and Delia was cranky. We think she might have some teeth coming in. Alina didn’t seem to miss a beat, but occasionally found herself channeling her enormous amount of energy inappropriately. Needless to say, we made a couple of trips to the corner. Mihaela took us to a wonderful farewell dinner in Barlad. Michelle recommended a traditional Romanian dish consisting of pork, polenta and a fried egg. It was delicious! For dessert, we all shared a banana split. We decided to say “see you later” as opposed to “goodbye”. Although we were only together for a week, the three of us seemed to have bonded while caring for the kids. I definitely look forward to volunteering with them again sometime. I’ve found that all the people I’ve met whom are associated with this program are so compassionate. I’m truly grateful for this opportunity.

This weekend, in my off time, I am taking a trip to Transylvania, which is a region about five hours away. I am told we will be visiting the Black Church of Brasov, Brahn (Dracula’s) Castle as well as the Peles Castle. I am excited to explore other parts of this country. This is definitely the icing on the top of my Global Volunteers experience. However, I do have a feeling that from time to time I’ll find myself wondering what the kids are up to.

Tuesday January 10, 2012

Transylvania was gorgeous! Brasov reminded me of both Prague and Heidelberg, Germany. There were a ton of shops and restaurants. We had lunch at a great Irish pub after touring the church, and then continued onto the Brahn Castle area. This town resembled a resort type village. We had reservations at a very cozy and quaint villa. It was very afforadable and in a good location. The Brahn Castle provided a great historical background of not only Vlad the Impaler (Dracula) but also Romania. After this, we traveled to the Presel Castle. This castle was completely furnished and actually a summer home for King Carl. Here, tours in English were available and the guides were extremely informative. The food was great. I definitely recommend experimenting with Romanian cuisine.

I did miss the children though and couldn’t wait to see their cheery faces on Monday. Unfortunately, Luca’s weekend didn’t go so well. He wasn’t feeling well Friday and was eventually moved to a room with sicker kids. They started an IV line on him for medicine. On the flip side, Delia seemed to be 100% better! She was very chatty and social. Alina was happy to see us as usual and was in the mood to dance. We gave Gabi some chocolate today. Not more than five minutes later, we noticed she was being a little too quiet…. She was covered in chocolate!! It was so cute and funny, she loved it. What she did not love was getting cleaned up. I spent most of the day with Luca. He didn’t want his bottle again, but did want to cuddle. We did a lot of that. I hope he gets to feeling better soon!

Wednesday January 11, 2012

Good news! Luca is feeling better and was moved back to the room with the girls! He still has a mean cough and runny nose but is more like himself today. He even took his bottle. Delia is becoming a big fan of sitting upright now. I think she gets a better view of what’s going on that way. She is still very chatty and loves talking to the other kids and stuffed animals. Cleo was a little cranky today and just wanted to be held. It can be difficult to tend to just one kid when there’s a limited number of staff. Alina is doing a lot better with the other kids! Her trips to the corner have become less frequent. She took an extra-long nap today. She must have worm herself out this morning. I have to say, Alina finds new ways to surprise me on a daily basis. She is so bright and definitely an entertainer. This evening, as we were getting ready to leave, Mihaela put Alina in a shopping bag as if she was going to leave with us. Alina though this was hilarious and was ready to go! She has definitely grown on me over these two weeks. I am so glad I had the opportunity to meet her.

Friday January 13, 2012

Today was my last day at the hospital. I am walking away from this experience with so much more than I anticipated. This has been an amazing program to be a part of. When I stepped onto the floor and eventually headed into the room, I noticed that is was unusually quiet. Sadly, Alina and Gabi had returned to the placement center. I was a little upset that I didn’t get to say “farewell” to my girls. Hopefully, I’ll see them again. I’m sure Alina’s pictures will be posted on the Global Volunteers Facebook page soon enough.

One of my goals, after meeting the children, was to get Luca to be able to stand on his own. We came so close today! I’m really proud of him. He seems unsure of himself and scared of falling. Today, I stood him up and let each hand hold onto my knees lightly. A week ago, I tried this and he whined and cried until I picked him up. Today he stood up straight and even smiled! He’ll be walking soon enough I’m sure of it. I am so sad to be leaving him but his future seems bright. Delia sat up in a chair today and loved it! Coca did a lot of work today and you can see her personality developing right before your eyes. I think Delia is going to be a very social and independent girl. She loves to dance and sing along with the music videos on the television. Cleo looked a lot better today too. She was laughing and even tried to suck her thumb. She is such a sweet little girl, I wish there was more I could do for her.

Saying goodbye to the staff and kids today was hard. I really hope I can come back someday. To me, this has been a win-win situation. I really couldn’t have asked for a better volunteering experience. I’d like to thank Global Volunteers, Mihaela and Dan, Michelle and Keagan and the staff at the hospital for such a wonderful Romanian trip!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Barlad- Children's Hospital


Today, Michelle was not feeling well so she opted to stay home and rest. This seemed to be in the best interest of both the children and herself. The morning was pretty eventful for the kids. Cleo and Dalia were taken to radiology for scans. Gaby and Alina both had their IVs removed this morning as well. This left both the girls a little cranky for the rest of the morning. Luca continued to work on his balance and walking. He is a great crawler and even better eater. All of the kids took extra long naps in the afternoon, possibly a result of their busy mornings. Alina was the first to wake up and was back to her spirited self. The kids all seemed to feel refreshed after naptime. Unfortunately, Andrea was taken back to the nurse’s room for another IV as she is still not feeling well.

Alexis Agnew