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Romania Revisited: Summer 2004
13 September 2004
by Mihaela Cirjontu

It has been a year already since my last newsletter and there is plenty of good news to share with you.

First of all, let me thank you again for your hard work, commitment, and love that have forever changed the lives of the children here. Global Volunteers' host representative Dr. Delia Asoltanei says that without the help of Global Volunteers, the much-needed clinic wouldn't even exist. Now that the Romanian government is trying to join the European Union for economic benefits, it has been under pressure to close many hospitals, especially those in rural areas.Many failure to thrive clinics have been closed, and in the region of Moldavia only two clinics of this kind remain--one of them is Tutova.

Needless to say, without Global Volunteers the Tutova Clinic would not have survived. Not only the clinic is still there, but we are striving every day to improve the life conditions of the children as well as the work of the Romanian staff in the hospital.

The clinic has been visited many times by officials from the Ministry of Health and from the Child Protection agency and they had nothing but nice things to say about how things are going at the clinic. One of them described the Tutova Clinic as "a piece of heaven," and he wasn't far from the truth.

In my last newsletter I updated you on the playground. The equipment has now been installed on it and it gets a lot of use. The opening took place last summer when Bob Bradley who donated the money for it came here as a volunteer.

The children enjoy their playground so much, especially in the summer. The swings, the slide, and the swimming pools are so much fun for the kids (and volunteers!), plus now we don't have to chase the children all over!

We have also added an industrial spinner, thanks to volunteer Mike Hostage, to the already existing washer and dryer and this helps the aides clean the children's clothes much faster.

We were able to replace the cloth diaper supply that was wearing out quickly. We now have hundreds of new cloth diapers that assist in the frequent changing of diapers.

Each one of you has been a witness to small progress of the children, but Ramona, Dr. Delia, and myself are able to see the big changes in the children's lives that result from a joint effort of many teams. Just to give you an example, we were very happy to see the dramatic changes in Ana-Maria Rancea, a child with special needs.

There was a time when she wasn't doing well at all. She had her hands wrapped so she couldn't suck her fingers, she couldn't sleep much, she lost weight, and was very unhappy. She is now so much better, thriving beautifully, getting more and more sociable, smiling a lot, and playing with her hands as a result of constant work with her and one-on-one attention.

Beginning in 2004, Global Volunteers is trying to cover the whole year with teams (17 teams a year!) so there will be no gap in working with the children.

We noticed that children regressed even after a short one-week break with no team on-site, so Dr. Delia requested more teams to work with the children year-round. The results are amazing, and Ana Maria is just one example to prove what continuous joint effort can do.

The winter seems to be "the low season" and we understand that people don't travel much at that time of the year. However, last December we had the first-ever Christmas Global Volunteers team since we started the project in 1999.

It was wonderful to be able to spend Christmas with the little ones. Many of them saw Santa (one of the volunteers - but don't tell that to the children!) for the first time in their life. We had such a good time decorating the Christmas tree with the toddlers, who took their jobs very seriously.

Their little smiling faces getting their presents from Santa and unwrapping them eagerly under the Christmas tree made us forget that we were in a hospital. It was like we were a big family. I pray that children will always have someone to love them for Christmas!

I know that they are always in your hearts and minds and I know how much you care. That's the explanation of the success of the child sponsorship program. It was amazing how quickly these children found sponsors. This is proof that these children are an important part of your lives. Thanks to this new project, children have all the food they need, medicine, clothing and everything else. But the most important thing they have is YOU. As Dr. Delia said, "Many times the human touch is critical for the children, and that's what you offer them--your unconditional love."