Why you should care

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Cristina, Alina, Gabi, Lala, Denisa & Betty

Conditions in the Ceausescu orphanages were truly horrific, children growing up tied to cots in appalling conditions. It has taken a lot of love to give the chance of a good life to those who first came to the project traumatized from such places, and even as young adults they still deserve the emotional and sometimes practical support that a natural family would provide.

Conditions in Romania have vastly improved since then, yet it may take generations to entirely dispel the notion born in the Ceausescu years that an unwanted child may simply be abandoned for others to look after. Far too often, Betty Grigoras is called to see a toddler abandoned at a hospital, tied to a bed not out of cruelty but just because there is no one to look after him, or a family of small children whose mother can no longer care for them, who have suffered hunger, deprivation and abuse, who bring with them histories – memories, spoken and unspoken – of terrible events.

At Harja, Betty and her staff form close relationships with the children and often they take them to their homes. They see them through the local schools, attending prize-givings like mothers and making their outfits for school plays, and support them also where they have disabilities, arranging specialist medical care and special schooling where necessary. The children also look after each other. There are currently twenty of them in full-time education and one baby, with the spread of ages of an extended family. It is our hope that they will form a community of their own supporting each other through the rest of their lives.   With this in mind, we believe it is important to keep a minimum of space and support for school-leavers, whether they are students or already in employment, and hope that like the children of any other family they will be home for Christmas or Easter.