Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Blessings in Bucharest

I shall remember the deeds of the Lord; Surely I will remember the wonders of old. I will meditate on all Your work and muse on Your deeds (Psalm 77:11-12)

Dear Family and Friends,
Greetings from Romania! It was my plan to write this first update last weekend; however, upon arriving in Suceava, I learned that I did not have any access to the internet. It has been 3 weeks already since I arrived in Romania and I want to be sure to remember all the amazing things that have occurred thus far. So although I joyfully write this blog as a way to share with you, in reality this blog is just as much for me...to remember. For now I will write about my first 2 weeks in Bucharest.
June 4-16th:  Bucharest
Unlike my “normal” routine of flying to Budapest and then traveling to Oradea, this year I flew straight to Bucharest as I had committed to spending the majority of my summer to working with 2 charities: FARA and Don Orione. God's favor was on me throughout the journey. His blessings were evident~ from my bags weighing in just below 23 kgs, to sleep on the plane and a smooth layover at Heathrow (despite having to change terminals).
Don Roberto, one of the priests at the center where I am working, waited for me at the airport. We arrived to Don Orione Center a little before 1:00 a.m. Being a bit OCD, I stayed up for a few hours and unpacked my bags. I could not sleep more than 3 hours as I was too excited for the morning to come. As soon as I began walking from the house over to the center, I could see that some of the children were outside. My heart felt so full when I saw the children.  Immediately I spotted my little friend Liviu, a sweet 7 year old with cerebral palsy. I approached him in his wheelchair, unsure if he would remember me. But he did! He cried out "Dawn! Dawn!" and then asked me "are you going to help me learn to feed myself?". So he not only remembered me, he also remembered what we did last summer and wanted to immediately resume our "program". He is so motivated and determined despite his limitations.

Ioana "mare"


Ramona loves the sensory room, especially the musical toys

Sweet Luminita. She is now talking and loves to play!
I then went into the center to meet up with my dear friends, Lili and Ariana. Don Roberto is making HUGE changes at the placement center and beginning in September, Ariana will be overseeing this area instead of working with Lili and the others in the day program for children with autism. The placement center is home to 19 children with disabilities. The majority of my first week was spent observing each child and assisting Ariana in writing down each child's strengths and needs. We then grouped the children according to their levels as needed to determine more appropriate sleeping arrangements (there are are 4 rooms for 19 children) as well as for creating schedules/activities. Our groupings were amazingly confirmed when we asked one of the workers and also one of the nuns to also group the children (this was done independently). The children were placed exactly the same! We also began making some changes to the bathrooms in order to allow some of the higher level children to learn to bathe and dress themselves.
Ariana and Milana

Lili and Romy (one of the young adults now living at the center)
We had planned to begin making several changes during my second week (including changing the bedrooms), but unfortunately we had a varicella (chicken pox) epidemic. 16 of the 19 children were affected plus one of the workers. There are only 2 workers in the day and 1 in the evening, so you can imagine the stress. Understandably, we had to delay most of the changes. On the positive side, this allowed me time to work with some of the children in the day program. Ariana and I were also able complete most of the preparations for our camp in July. Thankfully Ariana is quite artistic and was able to design many activities based on our "creation" theme.

Each day I have been working with Liviu on learning to feed himself. He is spasticity (increased muscle tone) and poor trunk control is severe, but his perseverance trumps any of his limitations. Ariana and I also decided that I would begin helping one of the other children, Alexandru, to learn to dress himself, take a shower and brush his teeth. He is also a very motivated child and is already making great progress. He especially loves to brush his own teeth!

Alexandru posing after his bath

Liviu learning to tear bread and place in his soup 
During the weekend, I was able to visit the young adults at St Rafael's (FARA). It was encouraging to see all the progress. There are now 8 young adults at the center as 2 of the girls (Elena and Anamaria) are now living together in an apartment. They still receive some supervision, but are quite independent with caring for themselves. They are both working at a nursing home 6 hours/day, 6 days/week. Gabi continues to have minimal speech, but overall her ability to communicate her wants and needs is much better. I had great fun listening to Marius and Mada read and practice speaking English. I am planning to take them on an excursion into the city in July.
St Rafael's

Gabi is all smiles

Elena and Anamaria in their new apartment (with Ines, the manager of FARA)

Mada~she is much calmer and happier now
Mitica, Mama Sanda and Roxana

Tudor is a great help around the house


Katie Shaw said...

Thank you so much for sharing all of your love and knowledge! Everyone is truly blessed to have you in their lives! :)

Kristin Austin said...

Wow! God's work through you is truly amazing. What a difference you make.
Kristin A.