Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Street Kids

families like this have little hope for the future

The term 'street kid' was very popular a few years back, before we came to Romania to work with such children. In the 90's in some quarters it became almost the fashionable thing to do ... to care about 'street kids'. Sadly, like all fashions, this one has faded, giving way to other 'fashions' in social concern, leaving todays 'street kids' sadly neglected.

There are different 'varieties' of street child - there are what we sometimes refer to as the 'full time' street children - children and young people who live intirely on the streets, never going 'home' and having no links with parents or other family members. Then there are the seasonal street children who live on the streets during the warmer seasons but in the harsh Romanian winters return to the place some might call 'home'. Thirdly, there are the children and young people who spend most of their time on the streets, begging, selling, prostituting but at night return to their 'homes'. 

Calman grew up in an orphanage and then on the streets
Most of our full time street children and young people are now older, having grown up on the streets of Arad. Sadly several have already died on the streets of Arad and others may probably follow them. For those who are now over 18, which includes all those who were already on the streets when we started working with them in the Millennium year, life has been harsh. Now that they are no longer children, no longer cute or sweet, life is even harsher. Who is interested in helping a 20 something former street kid who has no physical attraction and whose behaviour often repels rather than attracts? What can we offer to our older street children, for somewhere deep inside, most of them are still children, they never grew up, ever developed, never matured. Often all we can offer is unconditional love and acceptance, a warm shower and a hot meal.
The 'Secret Garden' community centre
For the children who are still physically children, we offer the same love and acceptance but we also emphasise education. When our work began we had no 'Secret Garden' to which the street children could come, no safe place for them to spend their days, no warm and welcoming space in which to play and learn. Now we are blessed with such a place and we have hope for the future of our children. 

We named the 'Secret Garden' community centre after the children's novel of the same name in which an orphan girl and a disabled boy find new life in a hidden garden. In our Secret Garden we offer basic education to children and adults alike and we work hard to try and integrate children into kindergarten or school wheverer possible. We encourage parents and grandparents to come too so that we can build up relationships with them offering practical help and advice along with a cup of tea or coffee and a hot meal with their children. 

We believe that we have already helped some children to not become 'full time' street kids but we want more for them than just not being on the streets, we want them to have loving families, homes, enough food to eat, an education and most of all to know that they are valuable and precious.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Optical laboratory (or glasses workshop!)

Two (or was it three?) years ago we were in the process of making a room for the glasses making equipment. Before the room was ready the owner of the previous workshop died suddenly and his family wished to sell the house immediately. To cut a long story short the equipment, frames and lenses were all quickly brought to us and the workshop set up temporarily! 

Our UK partner, Dave Bennet has sent new equipment and a new stock of frames and lenses which arrived on Friday. Kenneth decided the workshop must be finished this time, so he emptied it, dismantled all the shelving and then worked like a slave all last week. He finished plastering the room, sanded the walls and painted them. Then he put in laminate flooring, window sills and finally doors and door frames. Now he just has to build up all the shelving again and arrange everything ...

Hopefully we'll soon be back into periodic vision screening and providing free or cheap glasses for poor people.