The Rainbow exhibition

The Rainbow exhibition

On August 5-7, the Creation Workshop of young people in the child protection system in Baia Mare (Maramureș County), supported by Hope and Homes for Children, organized the painting exhibition "The rainbow - the link between the child and colour" at the "Holy Trinity" Roman Catholic Church of Baia Mare. The exhibition is a first for the artistic community in Baia Mare, and the aim was to showcase these young talents to both the general public and to the specialists. The exhibition opening took place on August 5, and was attended by people in love with art, colour and the beautiful, and enjoyed the support of the Artists Union.

A room for Ivan

A room for Ivan

Ivan is a young man of 17 years from Cluj County. His life has been pretty tough so far, despite the fact that he lives with his family. His father lost his job and started drinking, his mother followed him on this path, the family income has declined, and Ivan felt overwhelmed by the hardships that the family went through. His mother would no longer feed him, wash his clothes, and his father would no longer pay him any attention and would not help out with the costs to attend high school. Ivan's brother would not help him much either, being busy to develop his own business in construction.

Better life for the Crețus

Better life for the Crețus

The Crețu family from Baia Mare (Maramureș) consists of parents and 11 children and they joined the programme to prevent child separation run by Hope and Homes for Children Romania in 2011. At the time, the parents had no job, no house, they all lived in the paternal grandfather’s house, and the relations with him were tense due to lack of income, the grandfather wanting to evacuate them. The children did not have birth certificates, one of them had difficulty moving due problems with the foot, none of them was enrolled in kindergarten, and children of school age did not attend classes.

An unexpected encounter

An unexpected encounter

The end of August came with a visit to the Prislop Mesteacăn monastery (Maramureș County) for the children, young people, and instructors at the "Red Valley" small group home in Baia Mare and with an unexpected encounter.At the proposal of their instructors, the children were taken to visit the Prislop Monastery. The instructors invited the staff taking care of children also to spend time together and share their experience of helping vulnerable children in a less formal setting.

First time at the pool this year

First time at the pool this year

At the beginning of the holidays, children in at the small group house "The Red Valley" in Baia Mare were asked what they would like to do on vacation. "Let's go somewhere at the pool" they all said. In early August, an unforgettable day at the "Old Mill" pool in Săcălășeni was planned for children.

Together with the teachers they started preparing their backpacks since the evening before with everything they needed: briefs, bathing suits, towels, flip-flops, sandwiches, water and donuts. In the two coolers they put juices, apples, bananas, chocolate croissants and fruit jellies.

Cristian Vorovenci, running for vulnerable children

Cristian Vorovenci, running for vulnerable children

"Hello, Alina! This is Cristian Vorovenci, we met at Bucharest Marathon 2015 and I would like to run at the 2016 Marathon for Team Hope." After this discussion, Cristian not only ran for Team Hope, but he also won second place in the relay trial at OMV Petrom Bucharest Half Marathon together with Andrei Ștefana and Ionuț Drăguşin and dedicated the award to team Hope and Homes for Children and to the cause it supports.

From the care system to "home"

From the care system to "home"

Luiza and Liana spent their childhood in the child care system in the Maramureș County. They were abandoned by their mother at birth due to a difficult material situation and a violent and alcoholic husband. When their mother managed to get out of that relationship and found a man with whom to live a quiet life, she went looking for the girls and started to bring them home during holidays. In time, they built a beautiful relationship, and the girls really wanted to return to their mother and live with her, with her current husband, and their sibling aged 12. In 2015, when the family reintegration happened, Liana was 15 and Luiza was 18.

The story of the Neculai Family

The story of the Neculai Family

The story of the Neculai family

Approximately one month ago, we encountered the Neculai family. Back then, the children were sleeping in wooden boxes, in an extremely damaged room, and even that they were meant to evacuate as soon as possible. The children’s destiny would have inevitably been to enter the protection system where, somewhat ironically, their mother also grew up.

The authorities in Bacau asked for our urgent support in this desperate situation. We immediately agreed to do everything in our power to prevent the tragic separation of these children from their parents, who love them immensely in spite of the inhuman conditions in which they were forced to live for such a long time.

Because we managed to intervene in the most critical moment, together with the local authorities we had the chance to determine a major change in the life of this family, in just a few weeks. Now they have a home of their own, fitted with everything necessary, and the perspective of a bright and sustainable future.

Moving in their new home was more than memorable, not only for the members of the family, but for us as well. The joy on their faces can't be described, and their reaction to things we take for granted left us amazed. Simple things such as looking at oneself in the mirror and eating at a table were, for them, new and fascinating discoveries. They had lived for so long at the edge of civilisation that they couldn’t imagine a better life was possible.

Such moments and happy-end stories remind us of how much we love what we do and how important our work is. The results of our efforts are seen where they matter most - in the eyes of these children.

Alternative School Day

Alternative School Day

Ice cream at the best ice cream parlour in Baia Mare, first time travelling with the train, followed by a expedition into the world of plants at the Botanical Garden in Jibou (Salaj County), visit the Fire Department and many other joyful moments. This is how the children from the "22 Decembrie" Day Centre in Baia Mare spent their ”Alternative School” week (April 18th to 22nd).

At the ice cream parlor, the children opened their wide eyes wide opend and their senses were awakened senses in front of all the assortment of ice cream. Each one chose the favourite flavours: nuts, coconut, strawberry, vanilla, chocolate, fruit or lemon, and enjoyed it with great pleasure. For some of them, this was the first they went to a gelateria, so the experience was more meaningful.

The story of Olga

The story of Olga

Olga came to register for the foster care course organised by Hope and Homes for Children. The first thought that came to Claudia’s mind, the trainer whom Olga spoke to, was to tell her “My dear, being a foster carer is something very special. I think it would be wise to wait a bit longer for it”, because Olga was very young.

However, Claudia didn’t give in to her first impulse. She took a sip of coffee instead and asked Olga: “Why do you want to become a foster carer?” And Olga looked into her eyes and began to tell her about her life. All of a sudden she didn’t seem that young anymore. They realised they had known each other for 15 years, they might have even played together when Olga was a child in the institution and Claudia was a new employee with Hope and Homes for Children.

Olga was abandoned at birth. She spent 7 weeks in the pediatric ward, then she was transferred to the “Leagăn” Institution in Sighetu Marmației. Olga has a few memories from when she was in “Leagăn”: scenes that took place at night, the milk bottle she received, which she held on to all night, but especially the crying of a baby younger than she was. Ironically, crying in an orphanage is an exception. Abandoned babies learn quickly that no one comes when they need it, they lose confidence and their lives sink into silence. The long-term effects are devastating.

Olga remembers how she would crawl over several cots to reach the crying baby and then she would sleep next to him. She has a single picture left from “Leagăn”. It is torn. She recently took it to a photo store to have it redone. The adult Olga can easily be recognized in that picture. When she was about 3-4 years old, Olga was moved to the “Preșcolari”, another orphanage in Baia Mare. Here the memories change: more children, adults who were yelling, feeling fear hiding under the bed or behind the closet, days of hunger and sleepless nights. Olga has a picture from this stage of her life also. She is in an uncomfortable position and her facial expression is that of a child caught running.

At the age of 6, Olga once again packed up her life. It was just a small bundle, including the two photos, a significant load of mistrust and doubt, an equal amount of need for protection and love, a few wounds to the head—she had been struck because she wouldn’t behave during bath time—and some invisible wounds in her heart. This time she didn’t carry her luggage, a foster carer did it for her.

For a while, Olga called her “ma’am”. Later, after having slept in her arms for many nights and having searched through all the cupboards and drawers in the house, after dirtying everything, breaking a few things and being fussy about her food, she ended up calling her “mother”. And so it has been for the past 15 years.

Olga has a full life, which includes a lot of the day-to-day normal things one would expect from a young person. Her mother is now much older, Olga is an adult and she wants to raise a child who is not lucky enough to have a family. If you ask her about the photos, she tells you with a big smile that now she has many, probably too many, and that they’re all printed on paper, because she needs to be able to feel them.

The story of Radu

The story of Radu

The story of Radu

Radu is 25 years old and he has lived in the child protection system since birth. He was abandoned in the maternity by his parents because poverty didn't allow them to take care of him. The same thing happened to his sister, Rada, two years later.

The two siblings grew up together in Leaganul Sighet, but they were separated when they started school because Rada was believed to have a learning deficiency and couldn't attend the same school as Radu.

Rada was transferred to Gardani, Radu to Bocicoi and then to three other institutions. Gradually the two siblings lost touch and they only saw each other again when they were already grown up and didn't have much in common anymore. The two youngsters, now adults, have no contact with their natural family and, even though they have met their parents and other siblings, they don't feel connected to them in any way.

Radu left the child protection system a few years ago, as soon as he found a job. He describes his experience in "protection" as being filled with abuse, and he says that he is surprised he was able to survive these conditions, especially when lacking any kind of affection and emotional support. Throughout his life, Radu has contemplated suicide at least once.

Since 2009 Radu has been working as an unqualified substitute teacher at a school close to his family, which serves a large Rroma community. There are 300 children in the school and, for them, Radu is an important resource for validating their own ethnicity: he teaches Rromani and he is a school mediator. Unfortunately, in spite of the value he brings to the school and to the community, Radu cannot become a full teacher, which greatly reduces his income and gives him no stability. Every year he has to take an exam for the job and he isn't paid during holidays like all the other teachers with full rights.

In spite of his financial difficulties, Radu continues to study and is about to graduate from the Faculty of Letters with a specialisation in Social Assistance. He knows all the Rroma communities in Baia Mare very well and he thinks of himself as an informal mediator, even though he doesn't have the necessary resources.

Every school year Radu used to live with one of the Rroma families close to the school and he was constantly faced with having to spend more than he earned. He tells us how hard it was to buy food and not share it with the children of the family hosting him.

This year, Radu has decided to change something in his life. He asked for the support of Hope and Homes for Children Romania in order to be able to finally become independent. Ever since we've begun supporting him we have noticed a significant change in his attitude and his desire to prove that he is more than a survivor of state "protection". We are here for him and we are certain that he will succeed.