Flori (born 13.06.91)

Flori came to Harja when she was three. But for the fact that there was no vacancy in the “irrecuperable institution” she would have been sent there. Children in orphanages were assessed at three years old and if they could not do such things as count to ten, be potty trained or walk, they were classed as handicapped.

Flori is in her last of four years at university in the faculty of applied electronics.

She has always been a happy and easy girl. She lived in Casa Dinu with four boys and one girl, Andra. She was a spirited member of the football team, gave unstinting help in the house and in the yard, milking the cow, and above all, she was marvellous with Andra who has a degree of learning difficulties. It could almost be said that she brought Andra up.

She has lived with her boyfriend in Brasov (where she is at university) for three years and Andra goes to spend Christmas with them. All her tutors speak highly of her and respect her for her extremely hard work.

She manages her money (we support all our children who are at university) very responsibly and has never asked for an advance – a relief to Betty, as that has not always been the case with the others!

Ancuta (born 15.10.1991)

Ancuta came to Harja when she was three but not from an orphanage. She, her sister Florina, her brother Elvis and an older brother all lived with their grandmother, virtually in one room. Florina and Elvis came too. Sadly, Elvis’s problems became too great for him to continue living with the other children and when he was fifteen the Department of Child Protection placed him in a special school.

Florina married young, had a lovely baby but has since divorced, left her daughter and is working in the UK.

Ancuta is doing her final exams at Brasov University this year. She is studying English and will teach primary school children. For this she has done a good deal of psychology and this has been invaluable in the last few months when she has been living at home and helping, as a part-time carer, with the five little ones.

She has organised delightful and imaginative shows with all the children, often as a surprise for visitors (and sometimes for Betty). She has developed a remarkable sense of responsibility and thoughtfulness and remembers past teenage confrontations with thankfulness for Betty’s forbearance and direction.

Dan (born 11.03.97)

Dan came to Harja as a very small child, more like a baby, probably as a result of foetal alcohol syndrome. As he grew older he was hyperactive and he had a degree of learning difficulty, indeed of understanding.  We had invaluable help from a visiting English psychologist who devised a programme for him and helped the carers to manage and lead him.   He has always been interested in hammers and nails and mending things, he loves taking the dogs for walks and could be a very good gymnast.   He went to the local schools where the teachers were understanding and coped with his restless behaviour.   For two years he has been at the special school with Andra where he is very happy, has friends and will eventually be trained to be a carpenter.

Vasile (18.05.92)

Vasile came to Harja when he was almost three.   He appeared to be a baby; he couldn’t stand or walk and had been found by the Director of Child Protection in the street where he had been put out to beg.   The temperature was minus thirty.   School was a struggle for him (and his teachers) but at the vocational school he did well and had a job in Onesti, the nearest town, for two years where he was well liked and put in charge of his section.   He is a generous boy, shy for it is not easy being a gypsy in Romania.

Two years ago, at his request, Betty took him to his father’s village – a man of wealth who immediately offered him a car and a job.  He stayed there for a night;  when the offer was repeated and he was asked to address his parent as “father”, he said “you are not my father, you have never done anything for me.   My family is at Harja”.  And so he came home.

Under a special scheme, he was selected to do an engineering course and is now doing a further year there.

Lidia (born 10.10.1993)

Lidia came to Harja when she was eight. She lived with her family in a nearby village until, one morning, she woke in her mother’s bed and found her cold. She picked up her eight-month-old sister, Diana, and ran outside, crying that her mother was dead. No-one believed her at first, but then they came to the house and found that it was true. The extended family felt unable to look after both sisters and asked us to have Lidia. A few weeks later, Diana joined her.

Lidia has extensive burn scars on her neck, her chest and her arms; when she was three she was in the house alone and pulled a pot of boiling soup over herself. Half an hour later, her screams brought her mother home. She ripped off her clothes. There was no chance of plastic surgery at that time, but in the Uk a generous surgeon did what he could to help her, and since then she has had a number of operations in Bucharest to relieve the tension caused by scar tissue (which does not expand with a growing body).

She has a lovely voice and at school she particularly studied art. Now she is at university aiming for a degree in geography (which she learns in French!) She is a happy girl and always has a boyfriend, yet she comes home frequently and loves the family. Diana is always very happy to see her, sometimes to sing with her.

Andra (born 17.10.1993)

Andra came to Harja when she was three. She could only drink from a bottle, had little speech and a hearing impairment,but loved to touch anything furry. Later, she struggled with writing and all the schoolwork but the carers were enormously helpful to her. Flori, who shared a bedroom with her, was always calm, always there for her. As a result, she was able to pass the necessary school exams to be accepted by a vocational school, where she boards and is training to be a cook, specialising in patisserie.

She is very happy, and does not lack boyfriends! She comes home for the holidays with Dan, who is at the same school.

We are so lucky that this vocational school, recommended by the Department of Child Protection, could take them. There are few places like that in Romania.

Luci (born 28.08.1992)

Luci came to Harja from an orphanage when he was three. He was always a very kind boy and that has certainly continued. He loved football, and with the other boys in his house, had great matches with the others in the village.

He passed his High School exams and has been training to be an engine driver. He comes home often and tries to help two of his ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ who have not the ability to overcome and go forward from the difficulties of their early years. To Marius, who has stayed in the village, he offered accommodation in the town where he works, and talked to him about self-respect, and earning money, encouraging him to get a job in the oil industry which he says needs young men.

He is much respected by the middle children and of course the little ones love him,. And it’s great for everybody to have a man around – and fun!