Supporting Neglected & Disadvantaged Children in Romania

blogPlease read below our latest feature in the Ashdown Forest Living magazine:

The Colours of the Rainbow - by Rebekka Maughan & Simone Wellbrock

Charlie Chaplin once said: “You will never find a rainbow if you are looking down”. Chaplin’s words show us the importance of hope. But what does hope really mean for the poorest of Romania’s society?

Family SupportIt is hard to have hope when you live with your children in an over-crowed little shack with a leaking roof, filth and no sanitation. You may never have known a different live. You are so poor that you cannot give your children three meals a day, but are glad when you find food from the local rubbish dump that you can offer your children at night. In the winter with temperatures as low as -25 degrees your uninsulated shack gets freezing. Your shack is so small that not all of you can sleep in the make-shift bed so some of your children have to sleep on the freezing floor. You are an outsider and live in a slum at the edge of your local town. Because you look so poor people avoid you, in fact some hate you. When your children are sick you are unable to afford the medicine (Picture top left by Daniel Kay).

october3As a charity we want to motivate families to look up and see that rainbow Chaplin talked about. Giving hope is one of the most important parts of our work. Anne Frank beautifully said: "Where there is hope, there is life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again."No matter how hard their lives have been we need them to have the courage to look up and hope for something better. Where that hope has been lost we want to be that hope. So when we begin working with families we usually ask what gives them hope. The replies are always modest.

One family father desperate to break out of poverty replies: ‘I hope that Open Hands will help me to stand on my feet. I hope that one morning I will wake up and I will have responsibility to go to work for my family, then I will have the feeling that now we are someone in this world’. A mother’s reply: ‘I hope that with the help of Open Hands I can fix my house and bring my kids home from the orphanage.’ Another mother, who lives with her four children, saidin a tiny concrete room with no flooring or insulation (see picture), responds: ‘I hope that Open Hands can help me to fix the ceiling so that it does not rain inside our room anymore”

In the lives of our families there is an obvious pattern of poverty, it’s like this: if there is no work there is no food, if there is no education there is no work, if there is no food there is no health, if there is no health there is no work, every way seems just the same: hopeless. Their stories make a pattern that may have existed for generations but behind every pattern lies an individual, a face, a hope, a life, which is more than a simple pattern of poverty. As a charity we have found that the only real long-term way to break circles or patterns of poverty is education.

130Our latest project is called: The Rainbow House (in Romanian: Casa Curcubeu) – An Open Hands Learning   Centre. Last year Open Hands purchased a run-down, little house. With an outside toilet and a broken, old well for water access, it really was in dire need of refurbishment. We got to work and The Rainbow House is now completely renovated and furnished inside. We chose the name Rainbow House because we want this house to be a sign of hope. We want the colours of the rainbow to brighten children’s lives. It will be an education centre and safe haven for traumatised and neglected children, a warm and healthy learning environment for children between 0-16 years. The Rainbow House will support the educational development of children through structured play, songs, arts and crafts, food, hygiene, story time and help with school work.

115Our children have so much potential but they need time, love, affection and teaching to develop this. The other week I visited one of our families. I began to sing the children the English nursery song ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider’ and accompanied this with finger actions. The children loved this so much that their faces began to light up. Over and over they ask if I can sing the song again - both of them coping my movements and words. I have rarely seen such joy on children's faces. These children are not used to receive such attention. They need our input now to develop into healthy adults to break the poverty circle. Open Hands aims to support 22 children through the new Rainbow House project. There will be three groups: for babies, pre-schoolers and school-aged children.

The Rainbow House will open its doors for the nursery aged children this April.

However, to offer all three groups of children to participate in the project, we need to raise an extra amount of £24000 a year. This money will be spent on two staff members to run the groups, hot nutritious meals for the children, the running costs of the house, toys and learning materials. In the summer we would also like to build an outdoor play area for the children.

october4If you would like to help finance this project you can make a secure donation on our website: or send a cheque to the address below. We are also currently in need of toys and educational materials for the Rainbow House, which you can order at: (type in Rebekka Maughan to view our Amazon Wish List). Purchased gifts can be sent to this address: Open Hands Charity, Spindle Tree Cottage, Stockland Lane, Hadlow Down, TN22 4EA

As a charity we have been very fortunate that Ashdown Forest Living and the wider community have supported our projects right from the birth of Open Hands in 2008 and we would like to express our sincere appreciation. Thank you for your support!


Registered Charity Number 1136482


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English Office

Wellgreen Lane
Kingston/ Lewes
East Sussex ¦ BN7 3NS

phone: (0044) 7949766147

German Office

Open Hands
Andrea van Hoven
Hagener Str. 29
49377 Vechta

phone: +49 4441 9518875

Romanian Office

Suceava City
Zamca district ¦ No 5 Octav Bancila Street
29th block ¦ Staircase A ¦ Flat no.: 2

No.: 0040 740 239 964

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