As we wind down the second week, the children have gotten used to us and how we have adapted to them and their schedule. We know who will eat heartily and who will not. Who needs lots of walks and who is happy to rock or cuddle. Who needs an extra eye and who is content to play second fiddle.
We started our day with the usual breakfast and ride to the hospital.
Then a morning visit to the referral center that cares for the children when they are not in the hospital.
It was founded and funded by a combination of European charities and foundations. Based on a home- like atmosphere, it is divided by ages per building. We toured the building outside the playground that is Sammy’s home. There Sammy has a standard twin bed and a picture of him on the wall along with pictures of the others children who also live there.
The social worker told us through Dan that each building has three staff to take care of the children, including the cook. We also toured physical therapy, speech therapy, and a sheltered workshop where participants sew and knit – in preparation of a craft fair; and water therapy - which is in search of permanent funding for the current volunteer therapist. Each building has its own kitchen, living room and laundry.
Then back to the hospital for a lunch of pizza and off to Berlin for respite and a little shopping.
After an afternoon of sticlas, some play outside and a couple of baths, we returned to the hotel for a short while – then a tour of Mihaela’s high school.
The high school is the 6th oldest in Romania founded with the stipulation by its patron that the students would learn the base of romance languages – Latin.
An impressive building, with a decorative façade, soaring enter staircase (reserved for faculty) and 14 foot ceilings, the school serves over 1000 students in two shifts. The grounds also include a soccer field, a small garden, and the former home of the principal – now used as classrooms. Mihaela showed us the impressive assembly room and a typical classroom next to the faculty workroom.
After a short walk to the home of Mihaela and Dan (and a wave from Doral) we had a wonderful Romanian dinner. Mihaela’s mother with the help of Dan, cooked a tasty dinner of baked chicken, roasted potatoes, zucchini, carrots, eggplant - preceded by red peppers , tomatoes and a new treat for us- cheese with crushed black pepper. Mihaela’s favorite ice cream and coffee topped off the meal for dessert.
We toured the apartment, and headed home to the hotel to begin our preparation for our last day with our little charges and thoughts of traveling soon to parts more familiar. Tomorrow will be bitter sweet as we have a shortened last day with the little ones and cakes for the staff to say good bye.
Some of us will return – some will not. But the memories of these children will slightly permeate our thoughts from time to time, for a long and winding time.