Friday, 21 November 2008

pause for thought ...

On the way home yesterday I called at the cash and carry to pick up something for dinner. Amy was off school sick with an extremely bad case of tonsilitis and also has severe earache - she's been off all week and isn't at all well, poor soul, Kenneth went from the day centre up to Johanna and Philip's house to put up a ceiling and I thought I'd do something easy for dinner. I bought a cooked chicken, a large bag of frozen vegetables and 4 litres of milk. The bill came to £13 ... !

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Flying Seagull ... !?!?

Kenneth and I were away in the UK for a few weeks at the end of August and first week of September ... immediately on our return we had on of our more unusual groups of visitors ... the "Flying Seagull Project" - a group of entertainers from the UK - south of England to be more specific, but they were so lovely we quickly forgave them that! Ash works full time as an entertainer in the UK and decided to come out to Romania with a group of others and offer free performances for disadvantaged children. With Ash and his team we visited several of the poor communities and a camp for disabled children in the mountains and brought a little joy into the lives of children and their parents wherever we went.

As we drove into a community we would drive ahead to announce the show and Ash and the others would drive behind us with loud music playing and several of the group on top of their minibus singing and dancing ... you can imagine the excitement as we passed by the poor shacks. People all rushed out of their homes to see what the commotion was and their faces lit up as they saw the clowns and giant teddy bear dancing on top of a minibus!
Whenever we arrived at a suitable place for them to perform we parked the vehicles and they set up their "stage".

It was wonderful to see the joy on the children's faces when we arrived ... and on the parents faces when they asked how much it would cost and we told them it was free! "Free ... for us? Why? How?" These poor families are not used to having people give up their time and energy for them for free - and some of them were literally overwhelmed. There followed a great performance including games, dancing, jokes, magic and juggling totally transfixing children and adults alike.

On one of the days we drove two and a half hours out of Arad to a mountain station called Moneasa where the team performed for a group of 40 disabled children who were enjoying a camp in the clean mountain air.
Another day the group did a show at the shelter for street children run by the Arad child protection. It was so funny - some of the older boys were trying to look cool and uninterested but within minutes were joining in with the rest, shouting out and volunteering to take part in the show!

One day we went to one very poor area (pictured) but after half and hour we were rained off - a very rare occurrence here, for a minute I thought I was back in Glasgow on a church picnic! Ash was keen to return and let the children have the full show as they had been having such a good time before the rain started. We decided to return on the Saturday and ended up spending pretty much the whole day there - from 1000 until 1700 ... it was a great day and we finished it off by heating up tinned soup in Ash's new pot over an open fire!
Of course we also had to have a show at the Secret Garden ... we had a full show one afternoon and then another afternoon when Ash and team tried to teach the young people from the streets a few circus tricks ... it was hilarious, very entertaining to watch and the young folk all had a great time trying to spin plates and juggle.
Amazingly one of the street boys, Dani got the hang of it right away and had his plate spinning in no time at all. he then impressed us further by taking another baton and tossing his plate from one to the other ... Ash said he would like to come next year and hold a few workshops to see if any of the other street kids have talent ... we could host our very own "Arad's got talent"!

All in all it was a very special week for our young people and families and we are very grateful to Ash and his whole team ( I'm not mentioning names in case I miss one out ... they were all great!). We will be delighted if they manage back next year ... as will all their happy audiences.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

recent food delivery

Well, I'll forget the wedding photos for a wee while and try later! We recently had a HUGE delivery of tinned soup, baby food and cereal bars, compliments of Blythswood Trust Scotland - a big thank you to marshall Green and all at Blythswood for your hard work at the other end.

This time we even had help unloading - our good friends Puiu and Dorina very kindly offered us the use of their garage and courtyard in which to unload and store the food. Kenny and Philip came to help and even Puiu's retired parents helped us, tirelessly lifting box after box from the lorry.

In the past few weeks we have distributed most of the food, to communities all around Arad - some of it was even taken as far away as Oltenia in the south of the country by a couple we know who travel around visiting poor communities and helping where possible. Much of the soup and cereal bars was used here at the Secret Garden and has been a real blessing to us and all the street people and poor families who visit us. We have a microwave in the centre and can quickly heat up a cup of soup for anyone who pops in and give them a cereal bar as a dessert!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Still no photos ... but check out this blog!

I thought of a way for you to see a few photos of the recent work. Part of the recent team we had helping us was a group of young lads from the "Positive Futures" project in Liverpool, led by a good friend, Tom Cleary who is a community youth worker on one of Liverpool's large housing schemes. These young men are truly a delight to be with and while they were in Arad they kept a blog ... prepare yourself for some slightly unorthodox language and enjoy!

Monday, 3 November 2008

Secret Garden under renovation

The past few weeks have been more than usually busy with a team of 12 for two weeks, Johanna's graduation from medical school and then three weeks ago her wedding. (for photos of both see my mum's blog as I don't know when I'll get chance to post photos - blogger isn't letting me post any right now ... who knows why, I'm sure I don't!)

Last week renovation work began on the kitchen and dining room at the Secret Garden -Kenneth says he's excited and already has an idea of what it will look like ... I'm afraid to say that all I see so far is partially demolished walls, piles of rubble and wood from the old door and window frames and mess everywhere ... sigh!

To add to all our stresses our bank contacted us to say that Barclays bank in England accidently paid money into the charity account here and now they want it back - all at once. I must add that the said 'mistake' took place in April and the money is long spent on general running costs. For us it is quite a large sum of money and we cannot pay it back all at once, neither do we feel we should have to. So ... our charity account has been blocked meaning that we can withdraw no money. Fortunately the builders and double glazing company were both very understanding and have agreed to wait for their money ...

Still, let's look on the bright side! The courtyard is looking lovely thanks to the UK team we had just before Johanna's wedding. Andrew Bradley from came out with a few folks from two churches in Perton, Wolverhampton and some guys from "Positive Futures" project in Liverpool. They came to even out the courtyard surface and put up a high fence. In the end the job was bigger than they had thought and they settled for levelling the courtyard and re-concreting parts of it and making a lovely rockery at the front entrance way. (At this point I would add some photos, but of course I can't and unfortunately my mum doesn't have any on her blog, so you'll have to wait!) The team are providing the money for us to get a 'fencer' in to do the fence in the near future ... but if anyone from the team's reading this, don't pay it into the account just now guys because we can't touch it!