Tuesday, 27 October 2009
Monday, 26 October 2009
Our work becomes harder too in the winter. Firstly because it's hard to see children and families and work with them knowing the conditions to which they return each day. At the end of the day it's so difficult seeing the street folks all leave, knowing that they have no proper homes to go to. In addition to that they bring with them more dirty clothes to wash and generally make a lot more mess in the day centre ... more cleaning for us when everyone leaves at 1900.
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
Saturday, 17 October 2009
from Tchalai’s Zigane Tarot (1984)
Many of the children and families with whom we work are Roma (Gypsy) and as such, live on the edge of society, often in squatter communities on the margins of Arad and surrounding towns and villages. Pictured are two of our Roma girls who come daily to the centre. They are lovely, warm, kind hearted people who have become friends. Here they had just dressed one of our volunteers in traditional skirt and the red ribbons usually seen in the hair of little girls (just as I used to see when I lived in India!) Roma have been the victims of discrimination and mistrust for centuries. Linguistic and anthropological evidence indicates that the Roma people originally came from northen India and migrated across Asia and Europe between the 10th and 13th centuries.
Throughout their history the Roma have repeatedly suffered forced assimilation, persecution, banishment and deportation. Few people realise that the Roma were also victims of slavery in Europe, the Americas and elsewhere until 150 years ago. During the Third Reich in Germany the Roma were targeted for extermination by Hitler but I am not aware of any special memorials or days of remembrance for them and if such things exist then they are not well enough publicised.
The Roma are one of the most persecuted ethnic minories in Europe. Racial stereotypes and myths developed over the centuries in order to justify the persecution of Roma – they were accused of being lazy, thieves, witches and child abductors “The Gypsies are coming, the old people say. To buy little children and take them away …”
Any study of history shows us that a people who are marginalized and rejected have to find alternative ways to survive in society and often such people become the victims of social problems such as alcoholism and unemployment. Discrimination in all it's forms is an evil to be fought against and we at Vis de Copil (A Child's Dream) constantly look for ways in which we can help break down the barriers which exist between the Roma and their neighbours.
“There are some 15 million Roms dispersed across the world. Their history is one of suffering and misery, but it is also one of the victories of human spirit over the blows of fate. Today the Roms revive their culture and are looking for their identity. On the other hand, they integrate into the societies in which they live. If they are understood by their fellow citizens in their new homelands, their culture will enrich the society’s atmosphere with the colour and charm of spontaneity.”
Thursday, 15 October 2009
The government of Romania has fallen after losing a vote of no confidence, the first such measure since the end of Communist rule in 1989.
Parliament voted 254-176 to oust Prime Minister Emil Boc's government, which lost its majority when its coalition allies pulled out earlier this month.
Romania has been hard-hit by the global economic recession and is dependant on an IMF loan to pay state salaries.
The vote followed the collapse of the ruling coalition 10 days ago.
Mr Boc has been struggling to pass economic and social reforms which were a condition of the IMF loan.
Speaking after the parliamentary vote, he said it was "an honour for a government to fall for pitching reforms aimed at suppressing privileges" and that he was convinced the reforms would be passed.
Under the Romanian constitution, President Traian Basescu, a close ally of Mr Boc, will appoint a replacement prime minister to run an interim government until presidential elections on 22 November.
Mr Basescu, who is favourite to win the vote, said he intended "to keep this period of crisis as short as possible".
Please pray for the Romanian people ... they deserve a better deal than they get.
Wednesday, 14 October 2009
At the end of the day it was so hard seeing the street folks head back out into the wind and rain, knowing that they have no proper homes to go to. Some stay in derelict builings like the one above, others (the fortunate ones) have managed to built shelters around the hot water pipes that feed the city.
Poor families usually have home made stoves which run on sawdust, like the one below.
Saturday, 10 October 2009
Wednesday, 23 September 2009
Monday, 21 September 2009
Sure enough, as the afternoon progressed, one of the other boys, Claudiu kept making wee comments and annoying Stefan. I repeatedly told him to leave Stefan alone and to keep his mouth closed before he ended up getting a beating ... but would he be quiet? Of course he wouldn't! I had to leave the room for a minute and heard what sounded like a murder being committed. Running back to the activity room I saw Stefan in the process of throwing himself at Claudiu, stool in hand. Times like this are thankfully rare, but you have to act quickly so I placed myself in front of Stefan and put my arms around him while talking to him to calm him down and leading him outside. Once away from the source of his anger, Stefan calmed down and apologised in tears. When I told him I had two young workmen inside working in the kitchen who had heard the commotion and were probably scared out of their wits, he hung his head in shame and asked me to apologise to them for him!
Saturday, 12 September 2009
Sunday, 6 September 2009
Staff from the association approached us some months ago, having heard about us from the young people who live on the streets in the station area. They said they had heard that we had a good facility and would like very much to use our place for counselling sessions and health checks. We were delighted as we are always happy to collaborate with others who wish to help the street community and we are especially pleased to share our Secret Garden with anyone else who appreciates it's healing qualities!
Thursday, 3 September 2009
In July we had friends from Falkirk in Scotland visiting us, along with their two children. It was lovely to have them with us ... we hope they feel the same! They drove back with us to Falkirk, a journey of three days and the kids (Conor, Rachael and our wee Yasmina) were absolutely great.
For three and a half weeks we travelled around visiting and talking about the work here in Arad. It was good but very tiring for us and while over we received some very bad news. The son of dear friends here in Arad died from cancer - we were shocked and deeply saddened by the news. Then two weeks after that we received news that an old friend was found in the river Clyde, no-one knows exactly what happened but she was a lovely person who devoted her life to helping others and was still only in her 30's. On our way back through Europe we received the news that a colleague in the eye screening project also died, also from cancer. Then on our arrival in Arad Johanna's father-in law had finally lost his long battle with cancer. Words are inadequate at such times and we feel deeply for those left behind.
Thursday, 18 June 2009
Wednesday, 10 June 2009
Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Monday, 20 April 2009
Sunday, 19 April 2009
It was a somewhat chaotic day in some ways as not only did we have a whole room full of people all busily painting eggs but we
Monday, 13 April 2009
what a great picture! Mum and dad stand proudly by, watching their daughter's achievment.
Look at me, look at me ... I can do it! I can do ...
Then comes the wobble ... can she hold on?
no ... yes ... no ... and she's off! Daniela looks on sympathetically, she's had her share of falls too.
Our wee Amalia is a tough wee thing, not to be deterred by anything so minor as banging her head on a wall.
"did you bump your head?" say daddy, "come on, it's nothing, try again ..."
All that effort finally paid off ... just look at her now! Isn't she great? Imagine this darling wee girl is one of several who live on the streets with their parents, sleeping wherever they find a derelict building or making a hut alongside some hot pipes in the winter. hard to get your head round it, isn't it?
Saturday, 11 April 2009
Prices here are at the same level as the rest of Europe and in many cases higher for basic necessities but salaries and pensions in general remain pitifully small. We saw a report about milk production in Europe on the Euronews channel which stated that Romania is the second most expensive country in all of Europe for milk. Tea, coffee, breakfast cereals, rice, cheese and many other basic food products as well as utilities such as gas are all more expensive here and if you worked out prices compared to salaries then literally everything you can find in the shops is more expensive here than in the UK or elsewhere.
Thursday, 9 April 2009
Obviously our dream for all our young (and less young) people is that one day they will leave the streets, but for the long term homeless that sadly often remains just a dream.
Friday, 3 April 2009
Sunday, 29 March 2009
for a while I've been downloading various free language lessons from iTunes, all produced in Glasgow by radiolingua.com. i've discovered today that they'd run a romanian basics class in november 2008 at http://coffeebreakspanish.typepad.com/oneminutelanguages/one_minute_romanian/ and wondered whether you'd want to let your newletter recipients know - it may help for any who are wanting to come out and see you too. i haven't started yet - and i don't imagine in 10 one-minute podcasts we should expect to become expert orators but even if it just teaches "hello, how are you? would you like a coffee?" it'd be nice for visitors to feel less foreign!
hope all's well. i'm still waiting for house stuff to be sorted out and am yet again house-sitting waiting for my own place. not for much longer, hopefully!
Monday, 23 March 2009
One wee girl, Vetta who started coming in January this year wouldn't even sit on a chair for five seconds (I'm not exaggerating) and she drove us crazy by her refusal to do anything at all that we asked her to do ... now she sits for as much as an hour colouring in, drawing and trying to write letters and is really sweet and desperate for our approval. For mother's day on 8th March Vetta made a card for her mum and learned a wee poem! Just look at her below on the left in the red top, isn't she a sweetheart?
Sunday, 22 March 2009
Saturday, 21 March 2009
Anyway, back to yesterday. I think Yasmina had a great day ... Philip lets her watch her favourite children's programme, "Balamory" - for those who have never seen it, you just don't know what you're missing!
At one point during the day Yasmina went into her room and closed the door behind her. Johanna and Philip were sitting in the living room, Philip was working on his laptop, Johanna was enjoying a cup of tea and they weren't paying attention. After a good few minutes had passed Philip asked "what's Yasmina doing all this time?" so Johanna went through to have a look and got a huge fright. No sign of Yasmina ...
Johanna went right into the room and it was empty and quiet ... she was getting quite worried when she suddenly caught sight of Yasmina - she'd taken her 'noo noo' (her name for her dummy) out of the cot and crawled in between her cot, the book shelves and her ball pit and fallen fast asleep!