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Project: Orphanage in Romania
The orphanage is an independent organization committed to providing homes to abandoned children; women and families in difficulty; abused mothers; adults who grew up in state institutions; and pregnant women who have nowhere else to go.
They now have approximately 100 children on site, from 0 -18 years; half are without mothers, the other half are at the orphanage with their mothers who are either homeless, have been abused or just rejected by families.
Working with these children can be extremely tiring at times, but can also be amazingly rewarding. The main difficulty the children face is a lack of caregivers; the site has 10 caregivers working on a shift pattern with each person working 12 hours per day, seven days per week. What these children lack most is the one-to-one interaction with adults that children brought up in a family setting receive.
2. Adults with learning disabilities
At present, the organization has nine women and one man who live permanently at the organization. Their disabilities are the direct result of the old-style communist institutions which left many adults permanently traumatized. These men and women all left the state-run care at the age of eighteen or earlier, many ending up on the streets of Bucharest.
Many of these young adults have a mental age much less than their physical age, most can read and write and more importantly all love the interaction with foreign volunteers.
3. Foster Children
The orphanage has over 200 children in the surrounding areas for which the organization is responsible, but who have been placed in foster families. Often these families are very poor and struggle to bring up their own children, but still offer to take another one, two, or sometimes more. The orphanage supports these families however they can, with food, clothes, financial and emotional assistance whenever possible.
4. Women and children in difficulties.
The organization also has nine safe houses. Residents often have experienced problems with their families, some are escaping abusive husbands or other abusive situations. What they all have in common is a need for refuge and some help to solve their problems and re-start their lives. The staff assists these families by providing accommodation, food, electricity, firewood, furniture, clothes, and legal assistance as well as offering social support.
Possible Volunteer Tasks
The orphanage is a type of residential compound with housing and general use buildings. Some facilities are under construction, and still others are in need of renovation. They work mainly during the summer on construction due to the weather, although internal jobs like painting and repairs do get done during the winter. Volunteers are always needed to help with these tasks. Jobs include:
1. Child care – young children
The orphanage is always seeking ways to better provide for the children, from facilities to activities, and they are always looking for new ideas and ways of improving their standard of living and general experience. As part of the childcare team you would spend most of your time with the day to day care of the children.
2. Child Care – school children
Students attend school in the mornings and return home around 2pm. As part of the school team you would assist with their basic needs, including food and clothing. Also, you would assist students with their homework after school. During the evening hours you would provide activities and care – playing games, cards, charades etc.
3. Maintenance team
The maintenance team is responsible for the day to day mechanical running of the organization; this can range anywhere from repairing the tractor, to fixing or maintaining the hot water system, electrical jobs, garbage disposal, to laying and insulating water pipes.
4. Construction team
This team works on the construction and renovation of the orphanage's houses, depending on your skills, this can be anything from roofing, carpentry, brick laying to general labor of mixing concrete, painting etc.
The orphanage's greenhouse assists in their sustainability in regards to soft fruit and vegetables for their own use and for sale.
6. River reconstruction
During floods a considerable amount of river bank was eroded leaving two of the houses in immediate danger. There is ongoing reconstruction and reinforcement of the river bank to clean up this stretch of river.