Wednesday, 23 September 2009

flying seagull again!

We were honoured by a second visit from the Flying Seagull team at the end of this summer, led by the slightly crazy Ash Perrin (sorry Ash, but you know it's true!) and many of the children and young people with whom we work again had a fantastic time. Ash brought with him Matt who we knew from last year and three others, all lovely and a pleasure to get to know. We took the team into some of the very poor commuities in and around Arad and brought a little joy into a lot of lives.
These families live in conditions of abject poverty with little to bighten their days and were over the moon to see us returning. We drove through the communities, some of the team on top of their van and Ash leading the way on his springy stilts (sorry again Ash, don't know their technical name, but they're great fun!) and the kids all running after him in hordes, sort of like the pied piper, only without the pipe and a lot taller ...

With all the kids and some parents following Ash and his team led the way to a suitable place for a performance, in this case the nearby forest. It was a fairytale setting, the sun's rays filtering thought the green of the trees and for the children what followed was equally fairytale as they watched the show and joined in with the games and clowning.

One of the days we had a performance in the Secret Garden ... of course the young folks loved it and thoroughly enjoyed themselves joining in all the fun and doing some clowning.

Monday, 21 September 2009

sometimes we fight ...

Just the other day one of the street boys (we'll call him Stefan) came to the Secret Garden very drunk. We don't turn them away if they are drunk or high (some days there'd be no-one there if we did that!) but we do insist that they don't bring alcohol or solvent onto the premises. It was one of those days when you feel the trouble simmering just under the surface and you find yourself waiting for it to erupt.

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

more clokes!

Finally, two weeks late and after a long labour baby Rafaela Alisa More honoured us with her presence! Mummy, daddy and baby are all well, though it was a stressful time, especially for daddy! No time to write more just now, but thought this photo of her wearing the bonnet her great auntie Betty knitted for her was rather sweet.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

working together

One of the agencies we collaborate with is the "Anti AIDS association" in Arad. At least once a week staff from the association come to the Secret Garden and engage in informal education about sexual health and other topics. They also offer help with contraception, counselling and AIDS testing.

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

back home (in Arad) at last!

Eric, a good friend in darkest Wolverhampton took this photo of us. We hardly ever get photos taken together and never put them on blogs, so this time I thought I'd make an exception.

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.