Dina wants to become a teacher to help other children, just as she herself received help from the teachers in the small group home where she grew up .

Dina was abandoned when she was only 2 years old. Her ambition was to go to university in order to become a teacher and to help other children who have been through the traumatizing experience of being abandoned. She is now 21 years old and she is a 2nd year Pedagogy student. She lives in a Hope and Homes for Children small group home.

Dina and her sister were abandoned and sent to a young children’s cradle home when they were barely beginning to understand the world around them. She has one picture stuck in her mind, the rows of children sitting on their potties, in the long hallway. It was the only moment when the little ones were able to see each other, as they spent most of the time in their cots. They also saw each other in the playing room, but there weren’t many toys there.

“Usually, I was trying to give my sister whatever toy I could find, to stop her crying. I was always impressed by the cold green walls and how huge they seemed. Today, at 21, I try to avoid that colour both in my bedroom and in the clothes I wear. Probably because I was deprived of the love of a family, I was always eager to be hugged by anyone passing by. It didn’t matter if it was one of the teachers or any stranger visiting us, I was always begging for attention, it was actually a manifestation of my loneliness”, Dina recalls.

She can still remember the huge rooms, with the cots along the walls and a carpet in the middle, where the children were allowed to crawl as they could. “I probably wanted to explore, but I was quite clumsy and scared. My dream was to reach the big windows where I thought I would discover a new world, only because they were so high up and impossible to climb”.

A change for the better

Luckily, after one year, the two sisters were transferred to a small group home opened by Hope and Homes for Children. Since then, their life has changed. They started going to kindergarten, making friends, feeling loved – they started living their childhood.

“It was here, in the small group home, that I have experienced the most important moments of my life. My first doll, my first birthday with a cake, my first dress which to me was a princess outfit, my first Christmas with a lot of gifts. I only met my mother when I was 10. I remember our first meeting with her after she had lefts us: she hugged and kissed us, but she couldn’t tell which one of us was Dina (aici scrie Dana) and which one Alina. She came back a few times, but then she rebuilt her life and she stopped coming at all”.

Turning a disadvantage into an opportunity

Being abandoned was not the only abuse that Dina had to suffer from her parents. When she was only five, her father came to visit and, pretending to take her for a walk, took her with him. Although she was happy to be with her dad, the young girl quickly felt that something was wrong. Starving and always on the road, the girl got scared and felt terribly unsafe, all the more so since her father used to drink. The father’s reckless gesture led to an interdiction of visiting his daughter. Out of spite, he no longer signed any paper to allow the girl to go on holiday, to Italy, for instance, like her sister or the children in other homes.

“If there was a trip or a holiday somewhere around the country, I was always afraid that he would show up and steal me again. Even when I went to school, I kept looking behind me, to check that he wasn’t coming for me”, Dina says.

She first went abroad after turning 18, she went to Hungary on a trip organized by Hope and Homes for Children. “It was a wonderful experience, and, for the first time, I was able to make a decision that did not need my parents’ agreement. My real parents were the teachers in the home. All that I am today is due to those who brought me up and to the Hope and Homes for Children Foundation”.

Being deprived of her parents’ love and of the simple joys of childhood, Dina took refuge in learning. When she graduated from the pedagogical secondary school, she decided to go on studying in order to build herself a future in her adult life. At the moment, Dina is involved in volunteer work and she’s helping the children in the home with their homework.

“When I finish university, I hope to become a good teacher and a good example for those in my care, because it was here that I learned to share, to help and to live every moment”, Dina says.