Seven Ladder Canyon Hike 2018
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This year, I traveled to Romania with my mother to visit the same programs that we had visited last year. We began our trip in Bistrita where we decided to focus most of our time, because we wanted to do more extensive volunteering there. We did this because we found that our help of creative activities and service was most needed there.
In Bistrita we spent nearly every day with the Me and My Family program. Within the program there are 36 children with varying disabilities living in the Placement Center. Many of the children have spent their entire life in the center after being abandoned by their families because they don’t have the resources to care for their child. The children there, although severely disabled and confined to the limited space and resources available to them, remain happy and lighthearted. This is largely due to the remarkable, kind, and as my mom and I like to say, angelic staff of Fundatia Inocenti, who work with the local government sponsored workers
As mentioned before, we think the Me and My Family program has the greatest needs, so that’s where we focused our attention on this trip. With care for special needs children, the need for extra staff is great. Unfortunately, staff costs a lot, and the local government budgets are limited. Fundatia Inocenti provides several staff to supplement the government staff, but they can always use extra hands and the children love the extra one on one attention and fun activities. Also, Children with disabilities struggle more with day-to-day activities, whether their needs are physical or emotional. They require a lot of attention, so taking them outside requires more man-power and work. Therefore, the more volunteers they have, the more kids they get to take outside.
In Bistrita as well as Bucharest I spent some time with the afterschool programs. These Fundatia Inocenti programs essentially help children, including Roma children, with their studies. Many children are behind in regular school, so the sessions they hold are in addition to their already existing school time. The Roma children are equally intelligent and deserving as any other kid, but unfortunately they often aren’t treated so in public schools. The Roma people are still highly discriminated against in Romania and that is something that Inocenti is striving to end.
In Bucharest we went to the same hospital program that we went to in 2017, and in 2008! We spent time with the children there who had been recently admitted to the hospital and were getting treatment.
The money that YOU are donating helps fund programs like these. It helps the Inocenti staff and volunteers take an extra child outside, cloth an infant that recently got picked up from the street, or help a disadvantaged child catch up on their schoolwork.
For the first time since I’ve begun my fundraising I got to overcome my challenge in Romania. Originally, I was going to climb Moldoveanu Peak— however, because of severe storming, we were forced to reschedule our hike to a different area of Romania: Piatra Mare. We ended up scaling the Seven Ladders Canyon (canionul sapte scari), which turned out to be a challenging, yet beautiful hike!
Unfortunately, our trip came to a close and we left Romania after 2 and a half incredible weeks. Our time there was short, but the impact it had on us was, as always, remarkable and will remain with us for the rest of our lives. The children and staff taught us so much about Romania, the language, the Inocenti Foundation, and ourselves. We hope to give back to the foundation that gave so much to us by raising $2000 again this year.
I’m happy to announce something new that I will be doing with the funds raised. After visiting the placement center in Bistrita again, it really bugged me how most of the children would have to be cooped up indoors with restricted access to the outside world. As a way to bring the outside world in, the $2000 raised this year will go towards buying a TV and a special enclosed safety case for the TV, which will be placed in one of the bedrooms housing children are aren’t able to be moved. For these children, we see this big TV bringing other children into that unit and generate some additional social interaction as well as visual and hearing stimulation. Please consider helping us give these children the attention and opportunities they deserve by donating or just spreading the word about Inocenti!
For those of you new to my website and interested in learning more about Romania and her children, here is a little history snippet explaining why the need for this organization is so great.
Before the fall of Communism in December 1989, Romania was in chains. Both contraceptives and abortions were banned, and Nicolae Ceausescu, the dictator at the time, demanded that each woman had to have at least 5 children. If a family didn’t meet those conditions they would be taxed. He wanted to build his empire, and he believed that population growth was in direct correlation with economic growth. Unfortunately, not all families could support so many children, so the number of abandoned children grew immensely during this time. Children were forced to be placed in orphanages that were, at the time, not maintained. The conditions of these orphanages were beyond horrific. Often times, they were subject to sexual or physical abuse. They weren’t being properly fed or clothed. Some children were left tied to their beds, lying in their own urine, with no help or loving support. Because of these poor conditions, orphans often died from even the littlest of things. The other reason children were orphaned (and this exists to this day to an extent) was if they had disabilities. So, lack of the ability to care for a child was one reason for abandonment, but the simple fact that they did not want a child with a disability was the other. And, although it does not happen as much, abandonment of handicapped children in Romania still occurs, mostly because of a continuing lack of community based resources.
Inocenti has been fighting child abandonment since 1990, and since then we have seen a dramatic improvement in the care given to handicapped, sick and impoverished children. But today, there are still 36 children with severe disabilities living in the Bistrita placement center who need a great deal of support and care. We are hoping, through our efforts and those of many other individuals, to give each of those children a better life and the opportunities they deserve.