Vasile – ‘Home away from Home’
Vasile came to the center at the age of one and a half, suffering from malnutrition, mild intellectual disability, and behavioral problems stemming from his hyperactivity. Over the next two years Vasile benefitted from the Inocenti “Me and My Family” program. Outreach workers and volunteers at the center showered him with attention and affection. He learned to walk, talk, and feed himself. He also received much needed socialization skills through excursions into town, shopping trips to bakeries and other stores, and participation in ‘Sunday School’ at a local church. Vasile especially enjoyed mingling with the teams of students from other countries who contributed their vacation time to the center, an activity that helped him grow accustomed to behaving in a group setting.
The “Me & My Family” program has been running in The Placement Center in Bistrita for several years. The program offers educational, social, psychological, physical, and recreational therapy to children showing the effects of abandonment and institutionalization. Staff workers and volunteers at the center also work in a program designed to assist the handicapped children living in the state orphanage housed in the same building. Volunteers and staff plan events to brighten their daily lives, such as trips to a park or pony farm and organize cognitive, music, and play therapy sessions for them.
Vasile was afflicted with numerous phobias when he first arrived at the placement center. He was afraid of new people and places, cats and dogs, riding in taxis, swimming, and a host of other things. Learning to behave with control and discipline, he gradually conquered these fears. Indeed he became so friendly that he was popular with everyone. After we enrolled him in class at a local school, his teachers informed us that he already fits right in.
A foster family can provide a beneficial habitat for children who have been abandoned, especially if they suffer from mental, emotional, or physical disabilities. But the chances for success in placing such a child in a foster family are much greater if the child, and the family, have been properly prepared for the transition.
In September 2014, Vasile went to live with a foster family for the first time. A month later we paid a visit to find him content and well adjusted to his new surroundings. The family already had another boy placed with them, a year younger than Vasile, as well as a biological daughter, and the children behaved just like siblings. When we departed, Vasile, standing next to his foster mother in the doorway, waved goodbye to us, calling, “Come again for coffee when you can!”