Supporting Neglected & Disadvantaged Children in Romania

curca13Beautiful Romania. I was so glad to be back amongst the rolling hills, the soaring mountains, back in this beautiful country with its clash of cultures, where farmers on a horse and cart gathering in the harvest by hand also chatter on mobile phones.


Romania has come a long way since the fall of communism and in the cities you can see clearly how western influence is permeating through everyday lives. 

But Romania still needs help and this need cannot go ignored if future generations are to escape the poverty that continues to blight their existence.

It is to this effect I gladly volunteer as PA to the President of Open Hands, Rebekkah Maughan. Jesus commanded us to go and love people. To care for the sick, the poor, the needy. To put roofs over people's heads and to love the unloved. Without hesitation or question. Every part of me strives to do this with all I have. I want to be quick to give and reckless in the way I show love and care to the poor or anyone who needs love and care for that matter. If you know me and don't think I'm an eccentric radical then I must try harder!

Our trip this October was mainly to see how the Romanian Open Hands Team were getting on and to have meetings regarding the future of the projects in Gheorgheni and Suceava. My role was really to look after Rebekka and support her in whatever way was needed. Sometimes this was simply to ensure she rested, ate and laughed.

We began our trip in Suceava and it was a privilege to see the newest Open Hands Support Worker - Julia in action. We accompanied her on family visits, taking some craft activities along for us all to share with the families. Julia has a kind, gentle and soothing manner with the families who clearly trust her as we were welcomed into their homes.

Children are quick to hug her and laughed and shrieked with joy when they see the Open Hands car approach. They are equally thrilled to see Rebekka who they all remember from previous visits.

The simple craft activities bring oodles of joy. We brought little plain cardboard boxes for the children to decorate with pens, stickers and plastic jewels. The children chatter with excitement as they create their little treasure boxes. We then showed them how to make little bracelets from elastic and little coloured beads with letters on, spelling out their names or words like 'friend' and 'love'. Rebekka and I have great fun practising our Romanian!

Doing craft activities with children is no big deal but remember, these or no ordinary children, in no ordinary homes. 

These 'homes' are shelters at best, but not homes. They are filthy, flea-ridden, dark, oppressive hovels with no toys. For many, being beaten is a regular part of life, as is hunger, neglect and despair.

Julia and Open Hands bring light and life into these dark places. As we play with the children, Julia speaks to the parents about schooling, health, hygiene and other needs of the children. She arranges meetings with the school and as well as making sure the children attend, is building the confidence of the parents who themselves are victims of poverty and neglect.

I feel like I am watching the cycle of poverty being broken before my very eyes. Because someone gives a damn about these families, because someone is prepared to go into these filthy places and meet with the families where they are these children have a chance to break free; a chance of a future without poverty and neglect.

Julia explains how gradually the families are responding to the support of Open Hands and are making little changes in their lives to benefit their children, like implementing the nutritional advice.

This scenario is repeated in many homes in Suceava and the delight of the children upon seeing our craftiness never gets boring.

Each evening we have a meal with Julia and her husband Ionut who also works part-time for Open Hands. And boy do we laugh. I mean really laugh.About nothing, about everything. After what I have just spoken about this might seem very strange but it was such a gift. Seeing such horrors on a daily basis requires a great deal of processing and I can attest to the fact that laughter is the best medicine. 

We have to reconcile that we come from an incredibly privileged life in the UK - but that is OK. It is OK to be blessed - just be quick to share the blessings. It is never easy to know the children you have just been playing with will sleep tonight in those hovels with rats and fear to lull them to sleep whilst you are safe and warm in your hotel room. But what can you do? You pray. You thank God every day for the grace and blessings in your life and you ask Him to sustain your breaking heart so you can get up the next day and shed light in the dark corners of this world again. And again. And again.

by Emilie Watson


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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