VNO – Volunteers Night Out

One of the best things about working in Romania is all of the different people we get to meet! We have volunteers from all over the world come to hold babies in the Brasov Children’s Hospital and to love on our kids in Budila. Every once in awhile, though, we get to take a break from that and spend time together as a team – having fun and getting to know each other! Thursday proved to be one of those times at Cafe Mado on Republicii.

Abrianna & Andreea
Raluca, Abrianna & Andreea
Dominique, Derrick, Ashley & Lauren

Erin, Becky & Holly
Rachel, Steffi, Melanie & Mary
Sarah, Heather & Loredana
The whole crew!
Costel with his sister, Andreea

Idaho Visits Romania

FFR is so thankful to the team from Calvary Chapel Treasure Valley for all of the time they spent working with us in our different projects!

The team began their week by running a VBS for almost 40 of our 1st – 4th grade kids! They sang songs, taught Bible lessons, played games, face painted and did crafts with the kids. Everyone had a great time!

Then the men of the team worked together to lay some cement on the outside of a home in the Roma village where we work. The foundation of the home was dirt and rats were digging their way into the home and biting the kids at night. The family had already poured cement on the inside of the home but did not have enough materials to finish the job. FFR was able to purchase the remaining materials and this amazing group of men helped to pour cement on the outside of the home to be sure that the kids would be safe.

The next day the men helped with painting an apartment and putting beds together to get ready for our first set of FFR Interns who will be arriving in August!

While the men were hard at work, the ladies in the group volunteered their time holding babies and playing with the kids in our Hospital Program.

We were so blessed that the team took time out of the other ministry work they were doing in Romania to work with us! And we thank Nicu and Silvana Hagiu for connecting us and setting everything up!

English Camp

Juliana, Andrei & Lyndsey

For one week in July we were so fortunate to have Lyndsey Marcu come to Budila to run an English Camp for our teens. Lyndsey hails from Northern Ireland but currently lives in Hungary with her husband, Simon. In Hungary she is a teacher and during her summer break she travels all across Eastern Europe, holding camps for at-risk youth.

Lyndsey’s camps promote teamwork, good social skills, manners and sharing. The kids are encouraged to participate in reciting verses, playing games and singing songs. Teams are created the first day of camp (with each team picking their own name!), giving the kids incentive to work hard for points. Additional incentive is the “Star of the Day” certificate that is presented to one boy and one girl every day of the week for exceptional hard work and a willingness to work with others.

Close to 40 teens attended the camp and we feel so blessed. This is the second year that Lyndsey has come to work with our teens and we are grateful for her! We also want to send a huge thank you Juliana Timofte and Andrei Pintilie for volunteering their time and energy to this camp.

Thank you Lyndsey! We hope to see you again next summer…

English Camp 2015 Theme Verse:
Let us run the race that lies before us. 
Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.
Hebrews 12:1-2

Reflections on Codlea by Melanie Gray

Recently, FFR has been blessed with the opportunity to be able to go into the handicap orphanage in Codlea in order to serve the children that live there. We are equally blessed by the short and long term volunteers that have given their time to be with these kids, if only for a few hours a day. Melanie Gray is a returning, short term volunteer who has a such a heart for all of the children we work with in Romania – but especially in Codlea.

In December 2014 I worked in Codlea orphanage for disabled children as a volunteer for the first time. Last week, I returned. I’m not sure that I have the words to describe my thoughts and feelings but I’ll try! Always keep in mind that I’m a short term visitor and this is just a ‘snapshot’ of what I’ve seen.

There are approximately 40 children in the orphanage. They range from babies about 1 year old to young people aged 17. Most of the children have profound and multiple disabilities. These children will live here until they are 18. There is also a small but lively group of toddlers with medical needs rather than disabilities who will move on. The children are grouped in small rooms by age and they are cared for by a small group of friendly staff who it has been a pleasure to get to know.

As a special needs teacher in the UK I’m used to working with children with disabilities. However, Romania is a much poorer country and some of the sights – such as a girl with hydrocephalus (a large head due to fluid on the brain) and lots of children with wasted muscles unable to move at all – shocked me.
Medical interventions and daily physiotherapy can’t be taken for granted here. Now, I tend not to notice differences – I just see the child in front of me with their own personality!

One likes to be tickled, another likes throwing a ball and another rough and tumble. We stroke hands, sing gently, try a gentle massage. Other volunteers like Erin, an OT from Canada, do some gentle stretches. Holly, a pre-school teacher from America shares a drawing. It’s a real privilege for me to be able to sit quietly alongside someone with severe disabilities simply enjoying their company.

Sometimes too, I really seem to bond with a child and we share some intense mutual face to face studying! It may not sound much but it’s a heart language and I feel so blessed to be here.

The children have grown since December; some have made progress sitting and standing. Yes, it would be great if the children had access to daily physiotherapy, communication and self-help programs. More staff and volunteers with time to interact, nurture and care would be wonderful. Each child having a family would be fantastic. But I can see progress since December and that can only be good!

If you are interested in volunteering in Codlea, please email mail@firmfoundationsromania for more information.

SPOTLIGHT on Katie Greiner

You’ve all read about the projects, the kids, the hospital and life in Romania. Now it’s time for you to read about us! That’s right, we asked the staff of FFR a series of questions so that our friends and supporters could know a bit more about us. Next up is Katie Greiner – donations master and expert baby cuddler, offering the yummiest baked goods to FFR long and short term volunteers alike!

How long have you been in Romania? 
Since March 2011

Where are you from originally? 
Eveleth, Minnesota

What brought you to Romania? How did you start working with FFR? 
I had always wanted to work with babies and children, especially those who have been orphaned, abandoned, neglected, or are just in need of love. God started calling my heart towards Romania when I was in my teens, but at that time I had no idea where to begin or how He was going to bring that about. I found FFR while Googling different organizations in Romania and came out to Brasov in the fall of 2010 to volunteer for 2 months. On that 1st day with the babies in the hospital, I knew that this was exactly where God wanted me and that this would be my 2nd home. I finished out those 2 months, went back to MN and started making plans, and returned to Brasov 4 months later. I was originally just going to stay in Romania for 1 year, but 4 years later this is still my home and I can’t imagine leaving yet ☺.

What’s your favorite FFR project and why? 
It is a close tie between the hospital and Kids Club. 
Hospital – for the chance to love and take care of the babies and toddlers, be there to comfort and make them smile and laugh. It is still amazing and beautiful to me the difference it makes that we can be there for them. 
Kids Club – watching these kids learn and grow and hear about Jesus is such a joy and the highlight of each week for me. Also seeing some of the kids that I knew from the hospital as babies and now as 4 and 5 year olds in our group is very special. I love that we are still able to have this contact with these little ones and their families and continue to be a part of and make a difference in their lives.

What’s one thing from “home” that you miss? 
Going to church without a language barrier. I can understand most of what is said, but speaking still doesn’t come fluently to me.

If there was one food or drink that you could bring to a Romanian grocery store, what would it be?
Peanut butter M&Ms ☺

Where’s your favorite vacation spot in Romania? Outside of Romania? 
Inside of Romania would be Peştera and the surrounding area. Beautiful hills and mountains and breathtaking landscape.
I haven’t travelled much outside of Romania, but at this point Taormina, Sicily is at the top of the list.

If legality, finances and logistics weren’t an issue, what’s one project you would love to see FFR start? 
An emergency placement center or something along that line.

If you had to pick a Romanian name for yourself, what would it be? 

What’s your favorite traditional Romanian dish? 

Approximately, how many diapers would you say you’ve changed in the Brasov Children’s Hospital?
3,674… give or take a few ☺

If you could spend the day with anyone in the world, living or dead, who would it be? 
Mother Teresa

Who is your hero? Why? 
Corrie Ten Boom. Her stories and how God used her amazes and encourages me every time I read anything about her.

What about the Roma people inspires you to continue working with FFR? 
The way that our Kids Club and After School kids greet us with such bright smiles and big hugs each time they see us, no matter what kind of home or life they are coming from. I love being a part of their lives and seeing the difference that is being made and how far they have come.

If you were granted one wish, what would that wish be? 
To be able to adopt and be a mother to at least one of the babies I have fallen in love with here in the Children’s Hospital.