The children have been making the most of recent snow!
Harja welcomes a new child
A young girl has recently joined the Harja family.
Denisa is 12 years old and had been living in an outhouse, rejected by her mother. She ran away and was picked up by the social services. Already, she has settled in well and is happy in her new home.
The younger children have been camping in the Bucegi mountains, not far from their home. It has been very hot in Romania so they were very glad of the chance to visit a deep cave and cool off!
Friends of Children in Romania was delighted to receive a donation from a Romanian employee of Amazon. She won a £1,000 prize at her workplace in Doncaster and generously donated the money to the charity. Fundraising for the charity is a great way of supporting us. Simple ideas, such as cake sales and coffee mornings can be fun – and also raise much-appreciated funds.
Brigadier Michael Evans
The charity’s Treasurer of 30 years, Michael Evans, died on 13th January after a fall at home and subsequent illness in hospital.
Michael was Mary Gibson’s partner and supported the charity she had started with great dedication and efficiency, though he used to say “I’m a soldier, not an accountant!” It was his job to keep the charity’s accounts in order, recover Gift Aid and make payments to the Harja bank account each month.
Michael was on the point of retiring towards the end of 2020 and we had found someone willing to take on the role in his place.
His family has requested donations in his memory be made to Friends of Children in Romania.
A summer wedding
Betty and the Harja carers keep in touch with the children who have flown the nest and were delighted to hear from Ancuta (29), that she is to be married this summer. She works in Brasov, a city about an hour from Harja, where she is a kindergarten teacher.
Covid restrictions have eased in Romania at the moment and Ancuta was able to join the celebrations for Maria’s birthday at her adoptive family home near Brasov, along with the children from Harja. A wonderful celebration that was even more special when people have been separated so long!
Our three eldest children have all passed their final school exams, taken during lockdown. Two of them, Ali and Diana, are applying to universities. Albert, strongly influenced by his upbringing, is interested in social assistance, and also in construction.
Diana is applying to do communication and foreign languages at Bacau University. She is a happy girl with a good sense of humour.
Georgiana has had enough of studying for now and plans to go to England with her boyfriend. She was a very good student. Now she wants freedom and no rules!
As we celebrate their success, it’s a time to reflect on how Friends of Children in Romania has helped them grow and given them stability, love and encouragement after very difficult beginnings.
Ali was brought to Harja from the maternity ward in the city of Arad when he was six months old. His mother had left him after his birth. He got in touch with her two years ago, but no relationship could be built up. He met his parents last Christmas but was very disappointed and said: ‘I realise now how lucky I was to be raised in Hârja by the charity and to have the love and affection and care of Mary and of all the staff involved.’
Diana came to Hârja when she was eight months old, after her mother died from an infection. She came with Lidia, her sister, who is now a graduate and lives in Cluj.
Georgiana was two years old when she came to us. Her mother took her to Child Protection as she had nowhere to live and they were sleeping in a park. She kept in touch for a few years until she went to live in Italy but it was never a close relationship.
Since their exams, all the children have been enjoying summer activities such as picking cherries and fishing. The older children ones have now returned from a well-deserved camping holiday in the Eastern Carpathians, paid for with money refunded to us by the transport authority, as a result of lockdown schooling.
Many thanks to all those who support Friends of Children in Romania. If you would like to make a donation or take out regular Direct Debit payments to support us, you can do so securely here.
Here we are representing a glimpse of the Friends of Romanian Children’s association houses.
Friends of Romanian Children was founded by Mary Gibson, a mother and grandmother
herself, who was so disturbed by the images that came out of Romanian orphanages after the 1989 revolution that she flew there to help, initially raising funds and sending out workers, eventually setting up the Friends of Romanian Children project to give these children love and a family life.
Experiential Learning Forum re-Edu Project involves volunteers from all over the world in intercultural interactions and creative activities with the purpose of improving the community and bringing self awareness to both children and adults.
We asked the children about their life, future plans and beautiful memories. Watch their answers from the video below and embrace the happiness and the warmth that they send to everyone around.
Experiential Learning Forum re-Edu Project
The Project debuted with the first Activity (Volunteering Team One) on the 4th of July 2020. 13 people – four locals from Harja and Poiana, with Ali, Dan and Diana from the organisation and Alexandra from Poiana Sarata, four youth from around Romania Gabriela and Roxana from Suceava, Ciprian from Craiova and Eryani from Bucharest, five youth from abroad Iliana from Germany, Ilyas from Latvia (Moroccan national), Vijay from Hungary (Indian national), Muhammad and Aqeel from Hungary (Pakisatan nationals).
Ecology Activities in Harja and Poiana Sarata
It appears that these days all we hear about is the tragic impact our actions are having on the planet. With hundreds of people suffering from hunger, millions of tons of waste getting into our oceans, hundreds of animal’s species entering into endangered category, it’s time for us to ponder and wake up before it gets too late. However, not everything is horrendous, there are still many organisations and individual people who are burning their midnight oil to keep the Mother Earth clean and sustainable. “Friends of Romanian Children” is one of those organisations. FoRC aims to transform Harja from a village to a trash-free touristic spot.
We usually observe that our rural areas, especially picnic spots, rivers, natural beauties which were made for us, are full of trash, garbage. The main reason behind this is the fact that we do not consider it our own property. We need to protect it because only “The Earth is what we all have in common.” —Wendell Berry. In order to put this awareness message into practice, Experimental Learning Forum gathers volunteers from all around the globe to start awareness and cleaning sessions, in which we gather around dozens of bags with trash from the village of Harja and Poiana Sarata, from the river bank and places where people usually do barbecue or spend time.
FoRC mainly focuses on arranging projects that aim to give social awareness about the adverse effects of pollution on the rural areas and the nature around it. It is the second week of the Experiential Learning Forum project, and the whole context that we created is all about learning by experience.
What we did?
Fifteen volunteers from different countries spent a total of 200 hours during 4 days, cleaning the area that was full of old clothes, bottles, pieces of plastic, bags, glasses and various objects that do not belong to nature.
What we became aware of?
ELF project helped our volunteers to become aware of undiscussed effects of the pollution on people’s and animal’s life and then chain reactions of those sufferings. Our volunteers are now fully aware of the fragility of our environment and importance of its protection.
What we propose?
Our team proposed to have at least one day per month for cleaning the village and also, after spotting the hot places for trash, we informed the municipal government to carry the garbage on a daily basis. Apart from that, our team posted the social awareness posters on the commonly visited places of village and talked to locals about the importance of keeping tha area clean.
What is the conclusion?
The conclusion is that every person should take care of the environment. Before doing anything which is harsh for the environment, just think of the consequences that other people and nature has to suffer because of that. Our volunteers answered some questions about this topic and shared some personal insights.
The ”Raibais kaķis” association, in cooperation with organizations from Italy (Mine Vaganti NGO), Bulgaria (Social HUB Association) and Romania (Friends of Romanian Children) starts the implementation of the project “EntrepRURAL socialy”. EntrepRURAL socialy is a strategic partnership project for the exchange of good practice. The project is financially supported by the ERASMUS+ Youth in Action program.
”EntrepRURAL socialy” is a Strategic Partnership in the youth field aimed at promoting the role of Social Entrepreneurship (SE), in combination with Non Formal Education (NFE) and practical learning, as a tool for enhancing social inclusion and employability of disadvantaged sectors of the youth population from rural area.
Social entrepreneurship is becoming more popular, as it is the best approach to develop, fund and implement solutions to social, cultural, or environmental issues. The project is focused on exchanging good practices between the countries involved in the project by promoting social entrepreneurship of young people in rural areas. The partnership is expecting three mobilities in Bulgaria, Latvia and Italy for youth (18-25 years old) who want to learn and focus on entrepreneurship and develop their business idea. Each mobility has a specific theme: the first one is personal growth (who I am as an entrepreneur), the send one is storytelling and how to use it in order to promote one’s social entrepreneurship and the third one is digital opportunities (how to use digital tools in social entrepreneurship). For each mobility and topic, a handbook will be created.
The first activity planned within the project is an international meeting of partners from 11 to 12 July in Latvia, within which the further course of the project will be planned. The first youth mobility of the project is planned in Bulgaria in November this year.
The project “EntrepRURAL socially” was funded with the support of the European Commission “Erasmus +: Youth in Action”, which is administered in Latvia by the Agency for International Youth Programs. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
Schools closed in Romania on 11 March and will not re-open until September. So now the children continue do their lessons online. This has posed a few difficulties as they have only a small number of laptops and tablets and all of them need to work on them at the same time. Thankfully, two people have generously donated funds to buy two more, so that has made life a little easier.
Betty has taken on someone to help teach the younger ones as they are all at different stages and it is too much for the carers to take on. They have much to do already with cleaning, washing and cooking. Instead of working their usual 8-hour shifts two carers stay for two weeks at a time, to minimise to-ing and fro-ing beyond the houses. They have all been tested for the virus and are fine.
The little ones are finding it hard to do so much online learning – hardly surprising! Betty felt Stefan was getting quite miserable, so she bought him some new Lego and he was thrilled. “How did you know that is exactly what I wanted to make me happy?” he asked her. He and Gabi built this pagoda of 1500 pieces in two days.
The older ones will still be taking their exams, and they are working hard. Sometimes the school makes them do tests at 8 in the morning – not easy, especially for teenagers!
The girls are brilliant cooks!
The children miss their school friends and sometimes get bored but as Lala said:
“I like that we get to know each other better!”
If you would like to support the charity and help us meet the unexpected costs of lockdown learning you can make a donation here.
Many thanks for your support and generosity.