Romania Fara Orfani by Sarah Peters

Sarah Peters is one of FFR’s interns. She, along with fellow intern Izzy Hathaway, manage the volunteer apartment, help organize donations, supervise shifts in the hospital and lend helping hands wherever they are needed. We are so thankful for our interns!

This November, Izzy, Rachel
and I had the privilege of attending a conference organized by the
alliance Romania Without Orphans. At the conference, we heard from
Romanian politicians, a director of social services, social workers,
families who have adopted, charity workers, church pastors and young
adults raised in institutions, now supporting other orphaned and
abandoned children.
Here discussions revolved around these views:

  •  Children should not be raised by the state, but in a family.
  • Adoption
    is not currently viewed as a priority by many in Romania, so we need to
    motivate a culture of adoption across Romania, to care for the children
    in institutional care.
  •  All children have a voice, and where some children may have lost theirs, we should help them find it.
  •  Children who have experienced trauma in their lives need love, support and safety – all children deserve that.
  •  Supporting
    families so they don’t have to leave the country for work, or abandon
    their children, putting preventative and early intervention models in
  •  ‘Because God cares about the orphaned and abandoned children, ‘si noua ne pasa’, we also care.
was a wonderful opportunity for us to network with other people working
in Romania with the same heart, and it was so inspiring to see so many
people, especially Romanians, committing to working towards ‘Romania
fara orfani’, Romania without orphans.

New Kids On The Block

Last week, we introduced you to our teens. This week we’re giving you a glimpse of Kid’s Club! Seeing their faces light up when we pull up to the schoolhouse, when they learn a new song, or when they get to play with a plethora of toys is such a joy. There are some familiar faces and some new ones, but either way we feel so blessed to have a group of kids that are excited to come learn about Jesus and sing His praises!

Visionary Aid

Being in the hospital, taking care of the abandoned and semi-abandoned children, is one of the most rewarding things we get to do as volunteers. But we often wonder, is it enough? The children that are left in the hospital are at high risk of underdevelopment, in several ways.

We try to combat many of these development issues through touch and love but most recently, thanks to volunteer Heather Zorzi, we are able to provide a little something more. By using mobiles and books containing certain colors and shapes we are able to give these babies some visual stimulation that will go a long way towards growth and development!

Most recently the President of FFR, Sarah Berchtold, said: “I recently did a shift and I was amazed to see how much these [visual aids] are helping the kids.”

Having volunteers from all walks of life come to the hospital is such an encouraging and educating experience as we are able to welcome new ideas and perspectives into our program. Visual aids are such a small thing but they carry so many benefits in the long run!

Happy Heart Toy Factory

For every happy little toy purchased, another is donated to a child in need! 

You’ve probably come across this give-back business concept as made popular by brands like Toms and People Water.

Now, Grace Lloyd, from New York, is using the same model to help FFR! Grace makes hand made stuffed animals that can be purchased on Etsy. When a toy is purchased, another will be made and sent directly to FFR in Romania. The toys will then be given to the children in the Brasov State Children’s Hospital.

Grace explains her desire to get involved:
“After learning about the high number of orphans in Romania and the hardships they struggle through on a daily basis, I decided that selling my crafts could mean much more than simply making a few extra dollars for myself…
When you purchase a toy from the Happy Heart Toy Factory, another will be donated to Firm Foundations Romania and given to a child whose family does not have the means to provide toys for their children. My goal is simple: to bring a little extra joy into the world, and put smiles on the faces of children who have less than we do.”

Thank you, Grace, for your heart and for using the gifts that God has given you! We encourage you to visit the Happy Heart Toy Factory website. Purchase a toy for yourself or for a loved one and know that you’ve helped make a difference in a child’s life.

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!

Seeking A Broken Heart – A Volunteer’s Perspective

Below is a wonderfully written piece by one of our volunteers, Holly, who is here with us in Romania for 7 weeks. Her ability to capture some of the emotions experienced when volunteering in the Brasov Children’s Hospital is incredible. We thank you, Holly, for being able to put to paper what so many of us have not been able to express!

The second week at the hospital has ended. I am a wordy person who loves language and grammar; finding words to describe working with sick and abandoned children leaves me at a loss.

What can be said about a diaper rash so severe, the child’s skin peels off and blood seeps onto the crib sheet?

What words accurately convey the sight of babies desperately trying to pull themselves up and cling to crib bars in attempts to reach the arms of the grown-ups peering down at them?

What words set the scene for an infant quietly staring at the ceiling, a single tear spilling down its cheek, the only evidence of distress because it has learned its cries will not be answered?

What words describe the attachment issues when a toddler calls a just-met volunteer, “Mama”?

What language portrays the weariness and frustration of nurses who faithfully work around the clock, yet cannot hold every crying baby or interact with every wailing toddler because there are not enough hours in the day or hands to accomplish the work?

Those are some of the experiences from the past two weeks.

It shouldn’t be that way.
But it is.

People can ignore. Indifference can be the order of the day. Yet reality remains, even if everyone on the planet refused to recognize it.

It hurts. Hearts break at the sound of their cries. It isn’t fun to witness pain, suffering, and sadness.

But broken hearts won’t kill us. Trust me. Mine has been broken many, many times, and here I am typing away on my nine-year-old laptop.

Hiding from the suffering of others does not make it go away. Only by coming alongside is the burden eased.

Will every orphan find a loving, stable home? No.

Will many of the babies we hold at the hospital die young from disease and malnutrition? Yes.

Will every child grow up knowing they are valued and irreplaceable? Hardly.

Leaving it at that is exactly what satan desires. The deceiver wants us to be indifferent, close our eyes and stop our ears, doubt our actions have any real meaning, make excuses, and give up. It is overwhelming knowing many of the babies, statistically speaking, will not lead happy, balanced, healthy lives. I go back and forth with God all the time about this subject. I just flat out don’t understand why millions of children are born into a lifetime of suffering. None of us get to choose where or to whom we are born. I was born into a white, middle class, American, Christian family. I could easily have been born to the lowest caste in India and died at the age of five from eating raw sewage to fill my growling stomach. Or I could have been one of the sick babies at the hospital where I volunteer, screaming until my cries became hoarse and barely audible. Instead, I was raised by two loving parents; never went hungry; always had a warm, safe place to sleep; enjoyed being a kid; was highly valued, disciplined, and protected; and was granted an excellent education. I did nothing to deserve any of that; nor did these babies do anything to deserve their current circumstances.
I do not have it all figured out. I go to God all the time with big, aching questions. Some of those questions will never be fully answered this side of heaven.

This I do know, though. We must take action. Push back against the darkness. Set the world ablaze with light. Jesus said to give a cup of cold water in His name. He did not say, “Give every single thirsty person on earth a glass of water, and if you aren’t up to that task, just stay home and forget it.” He kept it simple and personal. One cup of water. One person at a time.

One crying baby snuggled. One diaper changed. One rash soothed.

That is what I hold on to when the doubt creeps in and I wonder if any of this even matters.

Will that person be thirsty again? More than likely.

Will that diaper need changing again? Absolutely (wipies are heaven-sent and whoever invented them deserves an award).

Jesus instructs us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. If I had been abandoned as a baby, I pray loving arms would have come to find me, even for a few hours a day. If I had kids and for whatever reason was unable to care for them, I pray kind people would welcome them into their home and reserve a space for them at the supper table.

Love is not merely a word. It is action. And a broken heart is exactly what we all need.

Are you interested in volunteering with Firm Foundations Romania?