Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I am sorry to report that I won't be going to Romania after all. As most of you know I have spinal cord damage which resulted in my arms being partially paralyzed. Over the past six or eight weeks my arms and hands have gotten increasingly painful, so I went to the doctor. He sent me for an MRI which revealed a bulging disk just below the infarction. A bulging disk isn't necessarily a big deal, but he said the exertion of the trip could exacerbate it, and it's in a bad location for that. There's also always the possibility of falling on the ice over there. So I am very disappointed, but there you have it. I may go in the spring, but for now, I can't go.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

I am going back to Romania on January 25th, my fourth trip there.  I am looking forward to traveling with Evan Boido, with whom I have traveled before, and with Robin, a new friend.  I am also looking forward to seeing Mihaela and Dan Cirjontu, our country leaders, and their beautiful daughter Delia.

I am somewhat apprehensive about the usual things:  the long and tedious flight, the hotel, but most of all, the weather.  Romania in January and February is not a garden spot!

Still, I am sure everything will be fine, and I know I'll be thrilled to see the children.

More later!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Prince Charles visits Romania . . .

I don't know why, but Prince Charles' interest in Romania interests me.  He goes to Transylvania, whereas I go to Moldova, and those are two very different places, but it's still encouraging to see him recognize what Romania has to offer.

Romanian president Traian Basescu met the Prince Charles of Wales towards the end of last week, while the Prince was on a private visit to Romania. After having greeted Charles of Wales at the Cotroceni presidential palace in Bucharest, Basescu made a joke in front of the media, saying everybody would like to ask his Royal Highness about Prince William, who has recently married.
The Prince of Wales was on a private tour to Romania, where he visited several villages in Transylvania. The Prince has also met Romanian Prime Minister Emil Boc at the end of last week.
“Back when I first visited Transylvania I was fascinated by this beautiful part of the world. Located in the South – East of Europe, in the heart of Romania, Transylvania is a place of extraordinary beauty, rich in culture. In the last decade , the foundation has ensured the future of traditional Saxon villages and helped preserve the scenery. The entire project was a successful one, helping preserve these places, helping them become prosperous without losing their historic, cultural values,” the Prince of Wales said in a TV interview about his foundation’s activity in Romania.
The Prince of Wales, next in line for the British throne, has a long-standing interest in Romania and has visited the country regularly since his first visit in 1998. He owns several renovated guest houses in Transylvania, among which one in the village of Viscri.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

No surprise, but still interesting . . .

It will come as no surprise to any of us that  "the length of time spent in conditions of social deprivation and neglect correlates with lower IQ and behavioral problems," but it's interesting to see it proven scientifically. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Well what do you know . . .

Shortly after the British Royal wedding, Prince Charles of Wales came to Transylvania, Romania, without his wife Camilla, but joined by few friends. During the visit they made a detour around the city of Targu-Mures and headed directly to his residence in Saschiz.
The Mayor of Saschiz, Ovidiu Soaita, said that Prince Charles arrived in the town on Sunday, around 16:30 hours and remained there about an hour. He visited a collecting and processing milk factory, upgraded to European standards with money from the Norwegian government, and met the farmers in the area. Ovidiu Soaita added that Prince Charles pays attention to small farmers around the world and believes that organic products its “a hope for all”.
After two hours spent in the middle of the villagers, the prince went to the county of Covasna. The Prince has a long-standing interest in Romania and has visited the country regularly since his first visit in 1998. He owns several renovated guest houses in Transylvania, among which one in the village of Viscri.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Terrible, Inexplicable News About Raul

I just learned that Raul has been denied a medical visa to come to the United States for treatment.  I don't understand this, and I don't know any more about it than that, so I can't begin to fathom why our own American Embassy would not allow a baby with a potentially-deadly (but non-contagious) disease to come to the United States for a treatment that is his last hope.

Raul has epidermolysis bullosa, an incurable condition that causes his skin to rupture and blisters to form.  The only treatment is to keep him wrapped up like a mummy, with some salves applied.  How can he live like that for the rest of his life?

My Global Volunteers colleague Caroline Ruhl had located a hospital, Colorado Children's Hospital, that is conducting a clinical trial on treatments for EB, and they had accepted Raul into the program.  It was his only hope.  Caroline had to jump a lot of hoops before even applying for the visa, including overcoming the resistance of the Romanian medical personnel and Raul's parents.  And now to have a visa denied by our Embassy?

I don't get it.  It's pretty much a death sentence for Raul.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Global Volunteers: The New Program

I got this information today in an email from Global Volunteers.  Since the closing of the Tutova clinic, the GV program has moved to Barlad where there will be different opportunities to serve.

First, Dr. Magdalena Cozma, director of Barlad's St. Nicholas Children's Hospital , has invited Global Volunteers to continue our work with at-risk children at her hospital. This is essentially the same work assignment as at Tutova -- holding, feeding and nurturing babies who need care. (As is so often the case, "when one door closes another one opens,"and some of the babies and toddlers on the other side of that door are from Tutova -- still counting on your love.) The children don't care that the door is different, just that you come through it!

Teaching Conversational . Volunteers are needed to teach conversational English to primary and middle school students during the school year at George Tutoveanu School and to middle and senior high students at English language summer camps. The focus is on conversation - visiting about everyday subjects and real-life situations so the students can increase their vocabulary and practice English language skills. While you'll teach in classrooms, during the summer camps students also enjoy taking volunteers out to show them highlights of their city, such as museums, live theater, zoo, and public garden -- providing additional opportunities to interact while speaking English. This is a great new opportunity for your companions who may not be interested in care giving assignments.

Third, if you enjoy working with your hands - repairing, painting and renovating buildings -- you're needed to help improve apartments at the Elena Farago Center. This is a rewarding opportunity to work alongside some of the residents and the local carpenters and handymen to make these homes more livable. What's more, we hope to establish a community garden project as our new partnerships progress so students and young adults can join the worldwide movement to understand and practice better nutrition choices.

You can also offer psychosocial support to teens and young adults for all or part of your volunteer assignment. The Elena Farago Center in Barlad cares for some 40 teens and young adults from age 12 to mid-20s. (Photo on top) Most of the residents are orphans, abused children, or from families too poor to care for them. About 10 percent have mental disabilities, and 20 percent are HIV positive or have AIDS, mostly contracted from blood transfusions. The residents live together in apartments, three to five per unit, with guidance from local staff. This is a great opportunity to help young boys and girls who are preparing for a productive and independent life. Initially, volunteers will befriend the residents by working with them on arts and craft projects, teaching how to cook nutritious meals, helping with homework, communicating in English, playing sports and more. We'll also tutor teens and young adults in conversational English at the Elena Farago Center, although teaching English will not be a full-time assignment at this facility.

Finally, if you have experience or interest in assisting children with autism and/or Down syndrome, you can serve at Barlad Center for Children with Disabilities. This is a multi-unit complex that cares for children with mental disabilities as well as those who are blind and deaf. This project can be a full-time or secondary project, splitting your work with one of the above primary projects.