Friday, February 20, 2015
In past trips here, I've posted almost daily. This year between being more tired and unreliable wi fi, I've posted a lot less. I've tried to focus more on essential news about the children and less about things like the corruption scandal with a female politician that is all over the national news. There is one piece of what is hopefully good news about the country. The new President is from Brasov and people seem to like him. He is not one of the former communist cadre. Let's hope things improve under his leadership.
Global volunteers posted a link to this blog on their site. They said I have been here 11 times in 8 years. I thought this was #10 here but I haven't kept track that closely so I trust their numbers. It is funny to think that before coming to Romania I did GV programs in 6 other places but after coming here it is the only place I keep coming back to. The other programs were great and I'd love to go back to some of the, but this is the place that really tugs on my heartstrings.
As usual, today was a bit sad saying good bye to the children. It reminds me of why I always come back - because I miss those little faces and voices and most of their antics.
Speaking of antics, here are some from today:
Sarah has an instant camera. She took a picture of Delia and when Delia looked at it she tried to swipe it.
Luciana had a picture of herself and put it to her ear and pretended to make a phone call.
Ionut grabbed my phone and tried to have a conversation with Siri. When he heard the voice, he said, "ce fac?" (How are you?)
Ionut and Luciana were sitting next to each other eating their soup. Luciana was trying to feed herself with mixed success. Ionut reached over and was trying to take spoonfuls from her bowl.
Ionut has learned when the aides eat their meals and know when to go in and cadge some snacks.
Sarah was Delia's personal slave today. As you may know, Delia finds someone who will be at her beck and call. Thank goodness for her strong personality. If anyone can overcome challenges, she can!
Luciana rocked out to yo gabba gabba. Elena likes it too.
Carmen was babbling today, which has happened just a few times. She seemed a bit more alert.
We also had a surprise visit today from Gaby's foster mother and foster brother. They brought me a gift. I feel like I'm getting all this love on behalf of all of the other volunteers! I have their contact information. I plan to send them some pictures when I get home. Some other volunteers from previous trips want to try again to get eye surgery for Gaby and I've told them I would be happy to help out. With these foster parents, it may be more apt to happen than in previous years.
Off to Bucharest tomorrow to catch a flight to Paris and then to Casablanca. Meet the tour group the following day in Rabat. Wish me luck with my connections. I'll post more pictures of the children when I have better wi fi. I'll post about Morocco on Facebook.
Pa to Barlad and the children once again.
at 8:47 AM
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
I I can't believe what happened today. Gaby's foster parents brought her to the hospital to see me! Dan had run into the foster mother recently and told her a volunteer who worked a lot with Gaby was coming. They exchanged phone numbers and it happened!
First and most importantly, Gaby seems to be doing really well. She is saying words and even sang a little song. They are trying to get eye surgery for her. She can eat holding a spoon herself. Her foster parents seem like wonderful people. They have two sons, 16 and 8 years old. The foster mother had dressed up Gaby for her visit. They even brought me a basket with a flowering plant and had Gaby give it to me. How nice is that?! If only all of our children here had homes like this.
Dan said Gaby's twin Mihalea lives in a nearby village so Gaby's foster family sometimes see her. She and Gaby are about the same height but Mihaela is a bit heavier. Mihaela is so smart; I hope no matter what the circumstances that she will do well because of that.
Dan and I took Luciana to the orthopedic office where they measured her for special shoes. I splurged and bought her pink ones with a butterfly on them. I used donation money for them so thanks from Luciana to those of you who bought her shoes! I knew you would want her to have pretty ones and not boring black.
Luciana did not like the car ride or the doctors office. She was ok in the car when we left the hospital but started screaming as soon as we we walked into the office and she saw the white coats. She cried the whole time we were there hanging on to me or to Dan. It was just overwhelming to her even though they were very nice at the office.
She also doesn't like Physical therapy and cries during it. I sat with her today and sang her songs to calm her down. You know it's bad when my singing is better than whatever else is happening.
The good thing is they had wrist braces at the ortho office so I got one for my right wrist. What I wouldn't give for a chiropractor and a massage right now.
Emma, Luca and Ionella left for the placement center today. Apparently other children there have chicken pox so I guess Luca and Ionella will be with them. Ionella was not happy being confined to one room at the hospital so maybe it will be better for her. Ionut and Ionella were kissing through the glass window in the door today.
So now we are down to Elena, Carmen, Delia, Luciana and Ionut. Of course, Ionut can count as two children and so can Delia if she isn't getting enough attention!
This afternoon, Sarah was inspired to take her slipper and sock off and draw with her two toes like Delia. Delia loved it and even asked her to do it again later in the day. Sarah said she has a new appreciation for Delia's ability to draw with her toes!
I'll post pictures separately. What a special day.
at 8:19 AM
Monday, February 16, 2015
We are down to 4 volunteers this week, which may require more zone defense vs man to man. We have a new child, Emma, who I am so happy to meet after seeing pictures and hearing about her. Unfortunately, she has a virus and is in isolation for a few days. We've gone in to visit her but can't pick her up or get too close. Her legs are paralyzed and she has a shunt in her head. She is such a cutie and seems pretty sharp. When you hold Delia up to the window in the door, Emma calls out her name and Delia responds. It is sweet and sad at the same time.
The physical therapist showed me how to exercise Luciana's legs. Luciana did fine at the beginning but didn't like it when the therapist was bending her over to strengthen her core. She started to cry. I'm not going to do that exercise. Don't tell.
We had a shaving cream party again. We even put some in a small bowl for Delia so she could participate. The kids loved it although I'm not sure that Coca was too happy about having to change their clothes for the umpteenth time. We did clean up the room and the children and Cathy even vacuumed the rug so hopefully we didn't cause her too much extra work.
Ionut commandeered us to push him up and down the hall in his machina. That is the Romanian word for car and the stroller is his car. My Italian grandmother used to call the car the machine so I always smile when I hear the word. Ionut is the king of the hallway and knows all of the nurses and aides names. When he gets a little too wound up, it is a good way to calm him down.
Before lunch time, we noticed that it had started to snow and held a few of the kids up to the window to see it. There were just a few snow flakes and it wasn't sticking but it has definitely turned a bit colder.
This afternoon, Cathy pulled out the wigs and tiaras that she and Sarah found over the weekend. It was so much fun. Delia preened in her pink wig and tiara. Even Ionut put on a wig.
We also got a peek into the conference room that got turned into a playroom for the other children on the floor. One of the aides was in there and they let Ionut and Ionella in. Neither were happy about leaving the room. The door to the room is kept locked so it isn't a space that we can use regularly.
I've been thinking about how much it helps that Delia, Ionut, Ionella and even Luciana to some extent can use their words to tell us what they want. Up, down, out, water, I can't. My Romanian vocabulary has expanded a bit this trip!
I ate a snack for dinner in my room so can't speak to what I'm sure was scintillating conversation over dinner. I was so tired I couldn't even remember what day it is was on the way home from the hospital. I suspect the rest of the week will go by very quickly.
at 9:17 AM
Friday, February 13, 2015
Ionut is fond of saying, "Io" which essentially is the typical toddler "me do it." Several of the others may not say It but that is exactly how they behave. It can be charming except for when you are trying to get them to eat and most of the food is on them not in them. The morning snack of yogurt and the afternoon snack of banana are definitely the most popular food items.
There is such a difference having fewer infants and more toddlers. They not only are talking, they are talking to each other! I had to laugh when Delia and Ionella had the how are you, I'm fine conversation today. They tend to act like siblings including snatching toys away.
Ionella is the little mother and helper to everyone. She is very tidy and wants any spills cleaned up immediately. She even brushed something off my pants today. Her favorite place is in the hallway watching the activity.
There is a video with children's songs that plays almost continuously in one of the rooms. Thankfully it is not the same one that I memorized on prior trips. Delia can sing most of the songs, which are in English. She maybe missing some limbs, but she is bilingual! She is quite the diva; she loves attention and watching herself in videos and pictures.
I should report that the yo gabba gabba toy that I brought 15 months ago is still operational. I don't know if this is good or bad. Luciana quite likes it and sings some of the words.
Dan and Mihaela brought a small toy kitchen that used to belong to their daughter. They love playing with it. Luciana pretends to eat with the spoon and bowl. She will be feeding herself soon.
Cathy got Carmen up and walking a bit today. At first I thought she couldn't do it but I think she just doesn't get the opportunity to do it very often. It does tire her out and she takes a nap afterwards. She also seems to follow objects with her eyes. Cora, a former volunteer, told me that she can see light and dark so she must make out shapes.
The only child that has noticed my cast is Ionella. She touched it and then touched my other arm and could tell it was different. The stickers that I brought are decorating their hands, not my cast.
Can't remember if I mentioned that we saw Adrian who used to be at Tutova. He seems to have a nice foster mother who brought some flash cards down and gave them to the children. Adrian has come and played with us a little. He is a sweet boy.
The pediatric neurologist came from Iasi today. She comes once a week so there were lots of people to see her. She saw Luciana and hopefully wrote the order so we can get her some orthopedic shoes. They have to be special ordered and will take about 4 weeks to arrive. I told them that I will pay for them with the donation money that I got from generous friends.
Today was Sarah's last day. She and Cathy went to Transylvania this weekend and she flies home on Monday. I move out and of my single room tomorrow and will share with Cathy for the rest of the time here. The other Sarah, Luisa and I are staying in Barlad this weekend. I have already been to Transylvania and have seen the painted monasteries three times. It takes 4 and a half hours to get to either place so I'd just as soon rest and get some walking in and get ready for another week with the children.
I confess that I am more tired on this trip than on previous trips. I suppose the cast on my arm has something to do with that! I am compulsively washing my hands and using hand sanitizer do I don't get sick for the rest of my trip.
Will post pictures tomorrow when I can sit in the lobby and get a better wi fi connection.
at 11:09 AM