Gloria Gery's
Romania Journal

APRIL 2005

April 18, '05


April 18, 2005

My First Note from Romania

Hi to you all!

Bob and I have been here in Romania from April 9th and I finally got a minute to write. We had a terrible time finding a reliable internet cafe.... they kept closing or had such bad lines that we couldn't log on. We are in a different hotel than I stayed at in December. We are in a very small rural town named Tecuci (said Tay-kooch) and the hotel is much nicer than before...

We have been at the Tutova Clinic every day. The children have grown so much since December... many of the small ones I took care of before are now walking or crawling and I am so happy to be with them again! There are six or seven new children... Little Michaela is only five pounds..... As before, all have been abandoned by parents. Two have gone "home" and we're hoping things are good. They are monitored by the Ministry of Child Protection so here's hoping. I read tonight in the online Hartford Courant that there are 892 Connecticut children who are in hospitals or institutions, so things are the same everywhere. Of course there are many more children than anyone could truly take care of: reports are of up to 200,000 abandoned and orphaned in Romania, a country of 22 million! If I thought about it I would see it as hopeless… but we've all adopted an "all you can do is all you can do" mindset and forge ahead to make a difference with the children we interact with and love. The fact that there are only 37 children here at Tutova - and that Global Volunteers consistently provides resources for food, utilities, supplies, equipment and both permanent and volunteer staffing makes me hopeful. There is also an child sponsorship program (info available at that makes a big difference too. Teams come in every three weeks. These kids are transformed because of it.

We are a team of ten: eight of us at the clinic with the children and two teaching English (conversational practice) at the local middle school. It's an unusual team in that there are four couples - one of which met on a Global Volunteers trip in Xian, China several years ago. David and Kay are 65 and 70 and the rest of us are in our 50's and 60's: Ken and Marge, Mary Ann and Dennis, and Bob and I. Marnie is here for the second time this year. She volunteered over Christmas 2004 and fell in love with Lilliana, a special child. She is hoping to make a permanent commitment to her and we all hope it works.

Many team members have been on other Global Volunteer vacations in Haiti, Spain, Appalachia, etc. Mary Ann and Dennis also work on Habitat projects. The team is very impressive - and Ramona, our Global Volunteers' team leader, is amazing. I was so happy to be working with her again. I grew fond of her in December and my respect and affection grow daily.

Bob is doing a great job with projects here. He has put up shelves for all of the heaters.... measured the windows for new screening. There are only screens on half the windows and just today a yellow jacket zoomed in the tiny baby room I was in. I thought it was a low flying plane the hum was so great. We killed it with a shoe... but I must say it made me nervous. So Bob and Dennis, one of our team mates who is an architect, will hang the screening tomorrow. Bob has been truly challenged with the tools -- or lack thereof. The only hammer they had for him was 8 inches long and looked like a child's hammer. Tonight he bought a ruler, staple gun (but was challenged to find the staples in another store). He has been putting brackets into solid concrete walls and is mesmerizing the children with the drill. I took a photo of him with one of the small babies holding a level and another with a drill in his right hand that was bigger than the baby in his left. He is fixing cribs and today hung new swings in the play area. It was appalling to see the ladder the staff had to use: home-made with two by four boards nailed together. Ken, one of our team members, got on the second rung and bounced a bit to "test" it, and it collapsed. We take sooooo much for granted. Another case: the kids rock back and forth so much in the cribs that the joints are starting to fall apart. There were no screws available to fix them until we went out and bought 250 screws. Of course we didn't have an electric screw driver, so it will be a career to screw them all in by hand. Even when we buy tools, the quality is poor. My description of them is that it's like buying your industrial tools at the "dollar store". It might look fine on the shelf, but it doesn't work for long… We'll be bringing tools when we come in January of 2006. I just wish tools didn't weigh so much!

Yesterday we went to the Metro store in Brasov (five hours away by car) and bought $700 worth of things including laundry soap in bags as large as fertilizer bags, a microwave oven (all were thrilled!), an iron and ironing board, a hot water heater for the room where the staff pre-washes all the dirty diapers by hand and tons of other things. We bought cleaning supplies, a six litre pot, plastic bags, tons of pampers for the babies with really bad bottoms, mop heads. The funny part was that we were returning from a weekend touring in Transylvania (more later). Six of us and a driver and a guide were in a small bus (or large van). We split the list up and we were running around the store which is a combination of Home Depot, Costco and Target. We were checking with each other about what we bought and looked like "scrubbing bubbles" trying to get everything together. We had five carts at the check out and spent 19 million Romanian Lei. To get the warranties on the electrical items a store manager opened each box and plugged it in to be sure it worked. He signed the receipt and then we had to go to a separate window where the warranty for each item was found and then we had to get those filled out and signed... another 30 minutes.

My cab is outside.... More later.

Sorry for the delay! Miss you all but we are just great!

Best, Glo and Bob


April 18, '05