November 13th, 2006 - Banca,
just finished our team dinner after our first full day of other
than traveling. This is my fourth trip with Global Volunteers
to the Tutova Failure to Thrive Clinic and this is Bob's third.
We are old hands at this point and are working with four other
team members: Walt and Paula from northern Wisconsin who brought
their 16 year old granddaughter, Mary, who lives outside of
Minneapolis and Kim from NJ (temporarily on assignment in Canada).
We all share common goals even though our age range is from
16 to 71. It makes it all the more interesting -- and we are
already laughing a lot. Walt and Paula have been on three other
Global Volunteers' trips to Vietnam, Ukraine and Poland. Flexibility
is their middle name - a good thing always in Romania.
usual travel day from Bucharest was uneventful and predictable
including our stop at McDonald's for lunch... chosen largely
because it has clean bathrooms. No one mentioned the food. I
ordered a chicken Caesar salad that came with a 1/4 inch deep
friend piece of chicken which had little chicken and lots of
breading. I am now braced for the food for the next few weeks.
We have had four other meals besides McDonald's -- all with
the same canned peas and beans. I gave up tonight with 1/2 of
a full dinner plate covered in mashed potatoes. Oh well.. that's
why we are going to France next... as a food antidote.
here's the important stuff. Today we went to the hospital and
the kids have grown so much! They are mostly wonderful
and greatly improved over our visit last January. There are
27 kids here: two were in the hospital in Barlad... they are
twin boys, Julian and Marian, who were brought in four weeks
ago. Their mother had TB during her pregnancy so they have been
on medication to be sure they don't have TB... and they don't
- but they wound up with drug-induced hepatitis so they are
in isolation. We saw them being brought back tonight in an ambulance
as we left for our motel. We will meet them tomorrow with masks
on just for extra safety.
(on the left) and Julian (on the right) are spectacular twins
who are in
isolation because of medical conditions.
(left) and Marian's parents and brother on a visit. They live
about 1 ˝ hours away
in Vaslui. It's a long and difficult trip for them.
we first walked in, the toddlers -- all nine of them-- were
with their teacher in the little room near the entrace. Nine!
Milicca, the preschool teacher who works with them, had them
all engaged in puzzles, games, etc. For the many of you on my
distribution who have volunteered here before the toddlers now
is still "master of the house". He is doing well and is smiling
and demands to brush his teeth after each meal. He is being
fitted with new orthopedic shoes which one of the recent volunteers
paid for. Bob will be working with the toddlers for the next
two weeks with 16 year old Mary. They will get a run for their
the teacher and staff can get these kids to sit still. They
go wild when we
volunteers come in because we are "new" and they know it.
Left to right: Ioanna, Florin, Dimitru, Maia, Denisa, Octavian
and Andrea R.
All these kids have been here since I started going to Tutova
in December 2004!
better known to some of us as "Velcro" Liliana since she clings
to you and won't let go -- nor can she be shaken away. When
I walked in, she simply walked up to me and put her head on
my thigh and followed me around that way while I greeted and
hugged others... then she glommed on to Bob who gave her all
the hugs she needed.
who is strong and talking and saying "Maia, Maia, Maia"
and asking to be held. Smart as a whip... the better developed
of the two girls who are part of triplets. Both were here
when I came two years ago and it's hard to believe she is
the same age as her sister, Maiestra, who is very developmentally
delayed and who does not like to be touched now. More on her
Denisa with her engaging smile and beautiful eyes.
Sweet, sweet, sweet and walking like crazy and playing. If
it's warm tomorrow we'll be taking her outside with the other
toddlers, something new that seems to be allowed now as opposed
to the past when outdoor activity was not encouraged, if not
prohibited due to fear of germs, drafts and colds. Hurrah!
Apparently Denisa just loves the swings.
and Dimitru, fraternal twins in all physical ways except
that they have become the clinic "tough boys". Engaging and
smiling and bowling everyone else over. I took Octavian out
into the hall for a while when I was getting some of the babies...
and he was quite gentle with them as he dragged a drum and
drumsticks behind him. Both of the boys have been here for
more than two years. I expect some wonderful foster family
will scoff them up soon. I hope so because they are ready
to rock and roll.
has grown so big and tall and walks and smiles. She's now
interacting with others so much more than last year when she
pretty much kept to herself. She's a favorite of Bob's along
who has gotten so big. Wait til those of you who know her
see her walk and smile... still the wonderful curly hair and
great smile. She was a non-mobile last year and Phil Grannan
used to call her "the tank". What a moniker for the fuster.
C. She was a non-mobile last year and has shot through
the middle mobile group to be a toddler. Yikes.
of last year's toddlers are in foster care: Theo, Maria,
Bianca among them. Mihaela, our team leader, tells me she
seems Mihaitsa B. walking with his new foster mother
in Barlad. I hope I run into them. He was a favorite of mine.
am writing about the children by name for those of you who know
them. For those who have only seen their photos you'll see such
growth and change when you view the new photo
have learned something interesting about foster care. Because
the EU basically "forced" the halt to international adoptions
and the deinstitutionalization of children, they have begun
to pay foster families from European Union funds. Some tell
me it's 200 Euros a month (about $250) and the money is very
attractive and able to support families who previously had no
employment. This is pretty amazing since the average wage in
Romania is still $150 a month. I am sure that the situations
are mixed, much as they are in the USA. Some "name changing"
from orphanages to "placement centers" or "group homes" puts
different titles on old structures... but hopefully things are
changing for the better, particularly for these children who
are so loved by so many.
must say that the change in Romania is palpable since my first
"dreary" visit. Much construction, improved roads, new and quite
attractive apartments, many large houses, many automobile dealerships.
We only drove through Bucharest and didn't have time to wander...
but a new flyway with a second level of road is being built
on the way to the airport... people are well dressed... and
there's even a new and "upper end" hotel being built in Barlad.
Global Volunteers will begin using it in late December or January
when it's complete. A good change from our perspective because
we are so isolated 20 minutes outside of Barlad in the Gianni
Motel, a roadside pension. Our head waiter here has been in
two of the hotels we have stayed at (and will likely be in the
third hotel in Barlad when it is opened next year). His English
is excellent and he provides us with great service. Turns out
he had a new baby who is now 3 1/2 months old. I gave him some
clothes and shoes for which he was grateful. He earns $2500
a year and works 24 hours and then 48 off and then 24 hours
and again 48 off. Hard working... nice to be able to do something
special in such a personal way. Next year as part of the accession
requirements for Romania into the EU, they will raise the minimum
wage to $3000 per year… so at the local ball-bearing factory
almost 1000 of the remaining 3000 workers will have to be laid
off. It had 10,000 employees under the communists when, as the
locals say, "they pretended to pay us… and we pretended to work".
The transition to the EU will be a rough few years since prices
for goods are at the U.S. and European levels but wages are
still very low. Progress and growth for all.
sends his love... more later except for one big piece of news.
Last year, spearheaded by our friend, Phil Grannan, we tried
to get some of the kids' very crossed eyes fixed. Tomorrow,
Sorin goes to Iasi to the University Medical Center for his
surgery and Abel goes with him.... for either a final evaluation
or possibly surgery too. Sorin's surgery is paid for by a recent
volunteer and we are finding out about what is required for
Abel. Through your generosity it will be taken care of. We are
so relieved - and so grateful to Phil for getting this started,
even tho' it took eight months to get this far. I will keep
you posted. What a difference this will make in these precious
kids' lives to be able to "see straight". (Since we returned
to the US, Abel and Sorin,were taken to Iasi, the university
medical center, and had eye surgery for their crossed eyes…
We haven't heard yet about the results… but we are all hoping
for the best. Surgery was on December 14th…. Again, paid for
the surgery will make a big difference - but not in the drooling!
(looking at the ceiling) has to get very close to objects to
Neurological damage from birth has caused this. He's quite the
big boy now!
I can't wait to find out how the surgery turned out.
from Bob and me.
We've bought $788 dollars worth of stuff at the Metro (Costco
equivalent) including peaches, raisins, baby wipes, lots of
other canned fruit, cheerios, jams, cleaning supplies, pots
(who knows how many they go through in a year!), crackers, baby
shampoo, creams, etc. etc. Bob also brought ten bolts for the
doors so the kids don't escape and over 300 screws to fix the
cribs, many of which are falling apart. He'll begin his work
soon... but first will "play" with the toddlers for a few days.
Thanks to all of your generous support.
we are checking out at the Metro with just a part of what we
bought: cleaning supplies,
shampoo, cheerios, diapers, baby wipes mops, raisins, fruit,
baby food for Ana Maria…. You name it!