Thursday, 26 February 2009

Kathryn's visit to Scotland

Yes, Kenneth just arrived back in Arad a few days ago and now I am over in bonnie Scotland but only for a few days. I will be speaking at a couple of meetings including a fund raising ceilidh on Friday 6th March in Falkirk (tickets available from Lauri Crawford - contact details on the side panel). Kenneth will 'hold the fort' while I'm away, helped by Amy, Johanna and Philip as well as our volunteers, Dana, Lidia, Tilor, Irina and Viorel ... well, truthfully, he'll need all the help he can get!

Monday, 23 February 2009

"Daddy Day Care"?

Kenny had a week off university after his end of semester exams. He came to the Secret Garden daily and was very popular with the children. He helped entertain the wee ones while their mums had a cup of coffee in peace. The older street kids enjoyed having him around too - some of them have know him since we first came here when he was only 12 and call him their brother.

During the days we have a variety of younger children who come, some with their mums. One mother of a nine year old boy came to see me and ask if she could pay us to teach her son the basics of reading and writing. As with many of the Roma children, he doesn't attend school but his mum has realised that it would be an advantage for her son to be educated. Eventually we hope to be able to teach children the basics with the scope of helping them to then integrate in mainstream schools. We have talked with the education department and they are very supportive. Of course, as with everything else, this depends on us having staff and funding.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

One minute we laugh, the next we cry!

Although the renovations still are not completely finished we decided to open for a few hours each day. Our 'quiet' activity room is out of action because it's still full of all the donations we had to move from the new dining room.

We have had quite a few volunteers over the past few weeks, which has been great. some girls came from a local church a couple of days and did a programme with groups of children - the children loved it and keep trying to sing the songs. One lady from a local church, Lidia is brilliant with the young ones and as soon as they see her they come running to me to ask if they can play the 'hanky' game with auntie Lidia!

For the past couple of weeks we have been blessed with MaryBeth from Edinburgh ... she has helped us burn (sorry, cook) the pastries, burn (I meant cook of course) meals and learn to dress and dance like a Romany! We have had a lot of laughs over the past couple of weeks, I hope MaryBeth has too!!!

As always though,
all our happy days are mingled with sadness, working with homeless or semi-homeless people we are constantly reminded of the hopelessness of their lives. The wee girl pictured here sleeps at the homeless shelter with her mum and dad, look at her, she's absolutely gorgeous.

There is another family who come every day, a mum with her three children who has run away from her violent husband. For security reasons I can't picture them though I wish I could, because her children are so very cute and it's so absolutely awful that they have no home. We have been trying every possibility we can think of to try and find them a place. The maternal centre says they could take her if she had an Arad ID - but she doesn't. Our last hope is a charity just outside Arad called Networks which has a mother and baby home, we are meeting with the head of the charity tomorrow to let him meet the family and have a chat.

Wee Denisa pictured below, lives with her 17 year old mum and her dad and his family in a tiny apartment. She's a darling baby, so loveable and cuddly and very much loved by her parents even though they are very poor. Her mum, Tilo has been coming every day since we first opened the doors but recently has started helping us and is keen to be a 'proper volunteer'.

pastries and more pastries!

Recently we have had several large donations of pastries in various flavours. We cook them at home -it takes ages but heats the kitchen up so that's nice in this cold weather, then we take them to the day centre where they are very gratefully received.

Up until now we have provided a basic meal every day of soup which we received from Blythswood Trust, Scotland along with sandwiches and tea and coffee.

Our 'clients' all appreciate
whatever they get, but it has been really great to offer them a treat of bolognese, plum, pizza or pumpkin pastries. Of course all of us at the crazy casa have been enjoying them too ... though I must say, I'm not sure I want to see pumpkin pastries again!