Last year I was asked by my friend Ines, a manager for FARA charity, if I could spend some time helping with some of FARA's programs in Suceava and the surrounding areas. FARA runs several programs in this part of Romania, including St Michael's (a group home for disabled young adults, modeled after St Rafael's in Bucharest), a therapy center in Baia (a small village), an autism center in Suceava.
During my 9 days in Suceava, I was able to work with each of these programs and also provide a formal training for their staff. I have the utmost respect for FARA and all they are doing to empower children and adults with disabilties.
St Michael's: This home is located in the lovely village of Spataresti which is located about 30 mins away from Suceava. Prince Charles is one of the benefactors for FARA and helped in designing this home. They have an incredible organic farm where some of the young adults with disabilities learn the techniques of farming and managing the land. When I arrived there were 11 young adults, however, during my time there, 4 of the young people were transitioned into independent living in another village.
Suceava: Unfortunately, there was a meningitis epidemic while I was in Suceava. This limited my ability to see the work at the autism center. However, I suggested that we visit the children in their homes. This would allow the workers as well as myself to understand how the children interact within their own environments.
Training: Firuta, the director for FARA in Suceava, asked me to do a formal training for all their staff as well as parents. We had over 22 people in attendance! Everyone seemed to enjoy the training and many of the workers at St Michael's were quick to implement several of the techniques!