A New Uniform

I wanted you to all see Nicosor in his uniform.  Isn’t he handsome!

Exciting News!

The heat has been turned on! (What where you expecting something else?) 

The State actually turned on the heat about 2 weeks ago.  But for a week, they would only turn it on at 10 pm for a few short hours.  On October 15, they turned it on full-time.  I didn’t want to announce this great annual event, until I was sure it was on for the winter!

It has been so cold here-30’s-50’s.  And many apartment buildings and businesses don’t have control over heat, so its been cold.  I was really cold even in my house and I  ended up spending a lot of time cooking to stay warm.  In recent year, folks have bought central heating units for their homes and apartments so they have control over hot water and heating.  As a renter, I don’t have this option. 

This is one of the interesting long-lasting effects of communism.  Centralized feeding centers were in the works as well, when the communist government fell in 1989.  Centralized water, heating, and feeding centers were all created to control the population. 

I’m glad this is no longer the case…ok, for some of us, it’s still the case…but we’re working on it!

A Good Teacher

Teachers in Romania have a bad reputation for not caring about their students.  But there is one teacher in Stroiesti,who goes above and beyond for her students.

Nicosor is nine years old and in the first grade.  He is about two years older than the other kids and didn’t really go to kindergarten.  He was the only child in his class without a school uniform.   I approached his teacher, because last  year, she had come to me for help with buying some notebooks for one poor child.  She told me that she had sympathy for Nicosor.  On the first day of school, his classmates in the first grade asked him where was his uniform.  They didn’t intend to be mean, just curious.  Nicosor felt different.  So I talked to his teacher and asked how much does a uniform cost.  That night she called the seamstress.  There was another child in the other first grade class whose mother had just called for a uniform and the seamstress would be in the school to take measurements the next day.  Nicosor beamed when he got his measurements done.  The uniform wasn’t very expensive, so I was able to pay for it.  For this small child, a uniform is really life changing.

I was told today the uniform is done and the seamstress even gave us a discount.  The teacher and I went today the store to buy a little white button up shirt to go with the uniform.  We found one, but the quality was bad and it was way too expensive.  So we then went to the market and found the perfect shirt.  The teacher is going to iron and starch it tonight for Nicosor.   The teacher doesn’t have faith in Nicosor’s mother to keep the uniform clean, so the uniform will stay at school and Nicosor will change into it every morning and out of it every afternoon.  The teacher will also take the uniform home to clean it. 

As we were walking in the market today, I asked her: “are there other teachers like you?”  Her reply: “not really.”   She will be his teacher for the next four years.  Nicosor loves first grade and loves to learn.  He’s missing three-quarters of his right index finger, but he writes really nicely, which is very important for the first grade.  We want to work with him as much as we can in the next four years to give him the opportunity to succeed.

Domestic Violence

I worked at the DV shelter in Wilmington for 5 years before coming here to Romania.  I learned a lot while there.  I learned never to go to the scene of the incident.  I learned never take the victim to your home. I learned you don’t take the victim back to their house.  You’re supposed to have the police involved, use taxis for transport, use motels for housing.  I broke every single  rule last night.  This is Romania; it’s not the same as America. 

Eighteen year old, Daniela had gone to visit her sister-in-law at the hospital and then went to the market near by.  She found her husband with another girl.  She walked up to them and introduced herself to the girl as the guy’s wife and told her their baby was home asleep.  Her husband didn’t like this.  He had been drinking and caused a ruckus at the cafe/bar in the market.  Daniela went home.  He came back and continued the ruckus.  They live with his parents.  His father and brother are out of the country working.  So it was just the mother-in-law, a sister-in-law, a nephew and Daniela and baby at home.  The mother-in-law told her son that if he caused a scene she was calling the police.  He left.  She called me.  She couldn’t go back to her parents because her father likes to get drunk and hit the family and she didn’t want to deal with that either. I went to pick her and her 4 month old baby girl up.  He was gone and she had no idea where he was.  The next morning, she was still angry at her husband, but she didn’t have any options and she went back to him.  His family assured her that he was calm and that he was going out into the fields to work with his mother for the day.  

I was able to give Daniela the only thing I could: a night of peace for her and her baby.

There are few domestic violence centers in Romania and they all usually full.   The best one is actually run by an American in the center of the country.

I fully expect to her from Daniela again.  I told her to call me if she had any problems.  My couch is open to her.  I wish I could do more for this young mother.

Thanksgiving-Romanian Style

Here in Romania, the churches celebrate Thanksgiving each fall.  There are no pilgrims or indians, no turkeys or pumpkin pies.  This Thanksgiving or Roadelor is a thanksgiving to God for providing a good harvest.  Each church decides when to hold their celebration.  I was able to join one church for their Roadelor celebration at the camp in Voronet.  It was lovely. The gym was decorated with all kinds of fruits and veggies.  The church service was held in the morning and again in the evening.   Folks took pictures amongst the decorations, which include a tree that was found near the road and was perfect for the decorations.

Now there were some similarities to American Thanksgiving: food and lots of it, only we ate sausages and mici (a type of grilled meat ball) and sarmale (stuffed cabbage) and cozonac cake.  Another similarity, after the meal, they guys played football..only it was European football or soccer.  Many folks went in search of wild mushrooms after the meal.  People came back with bags full of the yellow mushrooms.  They are made into sauces and soups or put on the grill.  Yummy!

Over 300 people came for the celebration

I spent the day helping out at the grill. It was a blast.

Sausages anyone?

I really enjoyed by first Roadelor celebration and look forward to sharing an American Thanksgiving with my friends here in Romania!

Bogdan’s Birthday

Bogdan turned 16 on Thursday.

Childhood Memories

Anyone who knows me, knows I love my cats. Love then.  And one of my favorite childhood memories was picking out those cates.  The summer after the 4th grade my mom took me to a barn full of kittens.  There were a million of them..ok, more like 30, but still, that was a lot of kittens.  My mom told me I could have one..only one.  Well, we came home with two.  One for me and one for her.  A few years later,  we were down to only one, Lizzy, and she was in need of a friend.  So my mom took me and my brother to get Lizzy a friend.  We were only allowed to 2 kittens this time.  We came home with three.  Anyways,  Alice and Grady live with my parents in NC.

Alexandra, Diana, and Gabi

Why am I telling you this?  Well, yesterday, I took three girls to the camp to pick out kittens.  Now Diana had a kitten; the one I gave her in July.  Her friends now wanted kittens, too.  There were 7 kittens at the camp and they were old enough to be given away.  It was so much fun to share one of my favorite childhood experiences with these girls.  We made a day of it.  We had lunch, the girls played  on the trampoline and they picked out kittens.  They wanted me to name them.  Diana’s kitten was named Izzy; her mom made me promise not to let Diana get another cat.  Gabi got an orange cat, and we named her Sammie.  Alexandra got a gray kitten and we named her Alice.  Now, I just hope the girls learn responsibility as they care for their new kittens.

The girls fed the kittens hot dogs.

The Substitute teacher

Friday morning, I was the substitute teacher for one of the first grade class.  WOW.  There were 15 seven year olds .  The kids were really good.  They colored for about an hour and had I let them color all day, they would have stayed good as gold.  We tried going outside, but it was too windy and we only lasted 5 mins. We sand and the kids started learning “Jack and Jill”.  We ended the day by watching a short cartoon. 

My first graders coloring.

The biggest problem were chatty kids…not really a huge problem..  We also had a boy with a birthday..really it was his name day.  So he handed out candies at lunch time to all the kids.  And he gave me a chocolate bar. Very sweet.  He also became the line leader and got to pass out milk at lunch.

Daniel got to celebrate his name day with his class.

I love little kids. They are so much fun!  But thankfully, Fridays are short days for the kids and they went home at 11.