Nicusor, now a happy 16 year old
Nicusor had a very difficult start in life, but thanks to Inocenti, we’ve helped him to find a healthy and happy place in the world. The 11th child born to an impoverished Bucharest family, Nicusor was admitted to the Institute of Maternal and Child Care as a two-year-old. He was in critical condition, suffering from malnutrition and rickets, with barely the strength to lift his head on his own.
Research by Dr. Charles Nelson of Boston’s Children Hospital, funded by the MacArthur Foundation and conducted here in Romania over the past decade, shows that children who experience profound early neglect exhibit a wide range of developmental delays and disorders. The InocentiChild Life program is designed to educate parents about the perils of child neglect and abandonment and to reduce the trauma of institutionalization in the first years of life.
The first priority with Nicusor,was to get him to put on more weight and through intensive physiotherapy and daily play activities,begin to develop greater psychological and motor skills. As his condition improved, he began to attend the Inocenti Child Life group with other children. The simple act of playing can have a surprisingly beneficial effect on a child’s early development. Through games, a child’s cognitive skills strengthen, as does his or her social and emotional behavior. In this way a child learns how to communicate with other children and with adults. Games become a kind of self-therapy through which the child is able to work through and mitigate his own confusion, anxiety, and conflicts.
Nicusor remained hospitalized as these therapies were implemented on a daily basis. His parents rarely visited him. His family away from home became his lead physician, Dr. Tatiana Ciomartin, along with the Inocenti staff. As Nicusor improved, his caregivers could not help but rejoice. When he tipped the scales at eight kilograms (about 16 pounds), Nicusor and the staff celebrated with a chocolate cake. Much was also made of his third birthday when it came around. And when the first snow fell in winter, staff members took him out to play on the hospital grounds.
In time, Nicusor made such significant improvements in his health and development that he became eligible to be placed with a foster family. Although Romanian social services are charged with the responsibility of such placements, Fundatia Inocenti, through its social workers and psychologists, also plays a role.
In this case the foster family was a perfect match for Nicusor. The boy is almost 16 now and doing well. Over the years we have stayed in touch with him, occasionally sending gifts to remind him of our affection. And we always invite him back for our annual Christmas party.