Mary Gibson

 

Mary Gibson 18 April 1928 – 9 April 2019
18 April 1928 – 9 April 2019

 

It is with great sadness that we tell you that the founder of Friends of Children in Romania has died.  Increasingly frail during the past year, Mary had a stroke in March and was taken to hospital in Dorchester.  The next day a second stroke followed – a severe one. She was cared for beautifully in hospital and while she struggled to get words out, she always greeted the nurses with a smile.  Her body was badly damaged but her spirit as bright as ever.

Mary was a much-loved mother, grandmother and friend and this charity her outstanding achievement.

How did it all start?

After the fall of Ceaucescu, the president of Romania, in 1989, news broke of over-crowded orphanages with children living in appalling conditions.  Mary never waited for someone else to sort out the problems she was passionate about and she never saw obstacles.  On a cold, January day, at the age of 62, she set out for Bucharest, roping in her son’s ex-girlfriend and a photographer she had met on Salisbury train station.

Romania was in a very different state then to how it is today.  Soldiers begged for cigarettes at the airport; there were no streetlights, long queues for bread and little food available – other than jars of pickled cucumbers.  She soon learnt to pack her own lightbulbs for hotel rooms.

In Bucharest she sought out the notorious orphanages. Inside, the stench of urine was overpowering.  Worse still, they were silent.  No laughter – not even the sound of crying.

What to do?  An overwhelming task, you might think.  So she started with the basics.  One of the most urgent requirements, she had seen, was for nappies.  Back on a train in England, she asked the man sitting next to her:  “I don’t suppose you run a nappy factory, do you?”  He didn’t but when she told her tale he offered to help in a different way.  He worked for the advertising company Saatchi & Saatchi.  Publicity took off and fundraising went with a swing, including a concert at the Albert Hall.  She addressed the audience.  Next, she contacted Blue Peter, the children’s TV programme watched by half the country’s children. They decided to make her charity the focus of their Christmas appeal.

Her vision, and that adopted by Blue Peter, was to get children out of institutional orphanages and into family-sized houses, with carers taking on a parent-like role.

The appeal was hugely successful, raising more than £6 million.  Huge sums of money, though, are not always a blessing.  The charity had to appoint a professional, paid director to deal with the scale of the project and almost immediately, her vision started to unravel.  At this point, many people might have been defeated.  But not Mary.  She simply got out of the organisation – and started again with a new charity – this one.

Friends of Children in Romania has given a home to more than thirty children over the years, mostly under the leadership of Betty Grigoras, who became her great friend as well as the best project manager she could have hoped for.

Mary visited Harja regularly, three or four times a year when she was younger, but still twice every year until her final visit last year, when the charity celebrated its 25th anniversary.  She always took presents for the children – fun things, such as fancy wigs or hats, jewellery given to her by one of the market stall holders in her local town, posters of fast cars and pop stars – whatever she thought they would like.

She baked with them, joined them for walks in the beautiful fields around Harja and played in the snow along with them during her winter visits.

Throughout, she was always involved in decisions over the welfare of the children, talking to Betty and before her, Penny Munro, several times a week.  She also corresponded with funders, produced the newsletter and was constantly on the look-out for new people to support the charity.

Mary will be much missed but the charity will continue.

 

 

Denise’s Good News

Denise is 9 now. Ever since she came to Harja there have been times when she looked sad, when Elena or Moni (her carers) asked her why she said it was because she wanted a father. This Christmas a priest and his wife came with a group to sing carols at the old peoples’ home accross the road. His wife, remembering teaching Marcel, recalled that he had told her about his home, and so with their guitars and music they came to our houses. Ten days later, the Department of Child Protection phoned Betty and told her there was a potential adoptive family for Denise. That family was the priest and his wife. It was pure chance, there was no connection with the meeting at the carol singing. They were simply a couple who wanted another child in their family (they have 3 children, one of whom is Denise’s age).

Still longing for an adoptive family, Simone suggested to Denise that she should sleep with her crucifix under her pillow and ask God to give her a father. The adoption is going forward!

Birthday Girl
Birthday Girl

“Art of Changing” – Erasmus+ Training Course

“ART of Changing”
Erasmus+ Mobility for Youth Workers in Romania – 2 Training Courses on NLP and Coaching techniques.

>the happening of events on video<<

The first mobility took place in Avrig, Sibiu a  nd it fully focused on building up the foundation skills of a NLP Practitioner and Coach (Neuro Linguistic Programming). The second mobility focused on developing further the skills through practice within the group and complement with new methods that are applicable among the target groups. The groups was located in Slanic Moldova (Bacau). The trainer, Stephen Molnar has more than 30 years experience as a psychotherapist and NLP Master Trainer and his wealth of expertise in working with NLP and Coaching, simply generated an auspicious feedback from the participants in both training courses.

So who was there? We gathered 18 participants from 6 countries: Italy (MV International ENGO), Bulgaria (YoutHub NGO), Hungary (SABAI Training NGO), Poland (Grupa Dzialania NGO), Slovakia (SYTEV NGO) and of course the organiser from Romania (Friends of Romanian Children NGO). The selected participants work with young people with fewer opportuni

ties in their local communities. For example the participating youth workers from Bulgaria work in schools in Veliko Tarnavo and already started to disseminate those tools among fellow teachers and working with children in extra-curricular activities. The same is reported from by the youth-workers in Slovakia who work with the similar target group using the methods for creating guidance among students who are in their teenage period. Youth workers participating from Italy, Poland, Hungary and Romania are making use of the techniques in Erasmus+ trainings and exchanges as well as in organising workshops for school children in the areas of activity.

What happened?
The activities as you can see have been focused on non-formal education activities, the participants experiencing the NLP and Coaching methods themselves for maximising the learning and understanding of how those work. Activities varied from using forms of dancing, sound, mindfulness to applied NLP methods like Neurological Levels of Change or Time Lines. We reached a common conclusion with the other participating organisations and participants: the impact increases as the youth workers are going themselves through the personal development learning curve.
Maybe you are wondering if those people had any breaks or fun. Of course! In Avrig we went for long walks and reflection activities, we’ve built brid

ges and explored the nature. In Slanic Moldova we spent one day visiting the applicant organisation in Harja and organise activities with the children (in the Snow). We also celebrated the birthday of the Hungarian organisation leader and had fun with karaoke contest…half of the groups hustling to reach the only one microphone.
The Future Cooperation.
All the youth workers are in touch even now, after 3 months and some planning follow-up projects in the Erasmus+ framework (Italy and Romania TC for Youth Workers; Bulgaria School Exchange activity; Bulgaria and Romania TC for youth entrepreneurship) as well as European Solidarity Corps activities. At the reques

t of the participants and the organisations we are organising a follow-up project Training 4 Trainers for February 2019 deadline.
We are happy to have shared such a great opportunity with participants, exchanging ideas, cultural backgrounds, cooperation, dances, food and jokes.

Thank you to all of our partners, participants and local stakeholders who supported in implementing this project successfully!!!
Until Next time!

Check the video summary here.
Video credit: Vlad Pandichi
Photo credits: Beatriz Jordao and Narcisa Morosanu

Summer Pictures

An unseasonal grey summer in Romania, with lots of rain and mud. Then, in mid-August, the sun was shining again.

The trampoline is a good place to talk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Betty took Lala, Denisa, Gabi and Stefan with all the young ones on holiday near Bran.

 

Lala, Denisa, Gabi and Stefan
Lala, Denisa, Gabi and Stefan

 

Small Denisa and old Denisa celebrated their birthdays at the seaside.
Then the whole family went to the sea and small Denisa and old Denisa celebrated their birthdays.
Small Denisa and old Denisa celebrated their birthdays at the seaside.
Razvan took the older ones to the mountains
Razvan took the older ones to the mountains