So much help poured into Romania after the fall of Ceaucescu and the Communist Dictatorship, 100s of NGOs were created within days in order to take money, food and clothes, after everyone witnessed the appalling photographs from the orphanages. I have worked there consistently since 2001 to support projects in children's homes, psychiatric hospitals and residential centres for adults with profound learning needs. We also have continuous programmes in Roma villages and with young people who sleep on the railway stations. There is now a pioneering centre called 'Crystal Children' that provides education and support for children and teenagers who are on the autistic spectrum.
Generally, funds are decreasing, and sometimes I get the reaction of 'We have already given to Romania' or 'Look at the crimes committed here by Romanians'. A nation tarred by the actions of a minority. However most of the people I know are hard-working, desperate to provide for their families, and keen to develop higher education. Nevertheless, unemployment is very high, 50% where I stay, living costs are rising with the proliferation of huge foreign stores, wages are being cut to try and stave off a crisis such as in Greece or Spain.
The Rowan Tree Trust, UK charity that supports our Romanian work has a new angle to raise funds. By creating an International Summer School for professionals from all over the world to both study and have a holiday, it is doing several things: bringing much needed cash into the local economy, creating local jobs in guest houses, as well as raising funds for local projects in children's homes and the training of their staff. It is a win-win situation!
Please join us for 'Water, Dreams and Attachments: the streams of living', 30 July - 13 August 2013. More information next week!