I have arrived to Romania. I finally got my so needed sleep last night. Beautiful overcast Spring day in Romania. Gypsy carts clopping by my window…trucks honking, the cow mooing and the dogs barking. Kids playing “futbol” and villagers walking everywhere. Working with the physical therapy kids here today.

I awoke to the sounds of so many children! I’m staying in the House of Angels. How refreshing! I love little laughter. Giggles echoed down the long corridors of this place! When I walked out…little Christian whom I believe to be about 12 years old said “Good Morning Romania!” in perfect English. I loved that! The older boys are very clingy and love to be petted and hugged and kissed. They will even take your arms and wrap them around. As orphans in a disabled facility prior to coming here, they missed out on so very much. This may be the first time in their lives that people have truly cared about their little lives. I am holding and hugging and kissing and loving each and every one of them as much as humanly possible. They call me mama. One of the little ones is begging us to take them out in the village for a walk. You can tell that they really love to do that.

Today one of the little girls with Downs Syndrome kept trying to put a truck in the lens of my camera over and over. How could you possibly ever get upset with that sweet little face? I had to say “gata gata” which means enough enough or finished finished…so many times it is my mantra. She also begged to be held and loved it so much she frowned when I had to put her down.

I had to laugh because the founder of House of Angels, Simona, arrived last night here for the first time in 4 months. At 8:30 she was having the children sit down with markers and draw before bedtime. This morning they still had blue lips and green, yellow and red marks behind their ears and around their noses! Ha!

The older kids are about 3 and up. The children that can move around and walk are all in the same playroom. There aren’t enough caretakers for all the children and each caretaker has to take care of profoundly special needs children as well as children with minor needs. It is a difficult situation.

Today was still the Easter holiday so we had the after-school program kids all day. I think at any given time there are about 10-20 of them. For the longest time I couldn’t realize why none of the children were in school on a Friday! Finally someone was able to explain it to me.

I’ll tell a little about House of Angels and how it is set up.

First some of you may want to know the history of the House of Angels.

We started as an Emergency care facility for infants to three years of age. You can read all about that on the link I’ve provided.

In September of 2006 we had our grand re-opening. This time as an after-school facility and physical therapy center for some of the neediest school aged children in Dambovita County, Romania. At one time this county had the highest abandonment rate at 6% per 100 births. These children in the after-school program are provided with hot meals, helped with their homework, taught arts and crafts and music play. They are the at risk of being abandoned children, the poorest of the poor.

The Physical Therapy center run by the wonderful Radu, is given to those special needs children in the community, including orphans.

Today I spent most of my time receiving the physical therapy children and their parents, and working with the after-school program kids. They are each so very special. I don’t always remember their names, so many children have walked through these doors over the years, but their faces are forever etched in my heart. I’ll do my best on the photos with names.

The striking thing about the children of the Physical Therapy center from the community is that they all have such devoted parents. Had they not, it occured to me that I might be playing with them in the orphan room. In Romania there is a long held stigma against children with special needs. There is nothing set forth for the disabled here, and parents are often shunned. But there they were, bringing their children with smiles, doing all they could, doting on their children, the way parents are supposed to be. Not abandoning their imperfect child. I looked at the orphans in the next room and wondered what their fate would have been if their parents were as devoted. Such a stark awakening. My heart cried inside. I held back the tears as I watched so many of the careful mama’s wipe their children’s faces as they drooled and felt sad that no one was there to wipe the faces of those little unwanted abandoned babies in the room down the hall, in the beginning of their lives. These parents are all very active in their children’s therapies, and Radu has taught them how to work with their children.

Radu is simply put, an incredible young man. He’s finishing college for PT here and lives in Tirgoviste, travels to Bucharest for college and then travels three times a week to the House of Angels to work with all the children. And we complain about driving two miles to work! I believe he has also another job working at a spa. After a few hours of talking to him I was able to see his heart for these kids. He even commented to me when working with the most disabled children, his heart breaks inside, but he never shows it on the outside. This is so typical of the Romanian man, they are pure teddy bears inside, solid rocks on the outside. The children here are put into the most modern therapy with the little means and equipment Radu has available to work with. The greatest part of all of this work is, that results are coming. Profound results. Children that doctors said would never ever get out of bed are standing in their cribs and walking. Children with weak muscles are becoming strong, and parents are being educated. The stigma of disability is falling all around us here and it is beautiful to watch.

We have many children that come to the Physical Therapy Center. Some with minor needs, physical and emotional and some very profoundly special needs children. Some are driven from other villages to the center here because they don’t have transportation. This is why Gelu (George) has a new van! He made several runs today to pick up and take home. He not only is a tata to many children here at House of Angels, he’s like a dad to others in the community.

I have taken many photos today of the physical therapy sessions and I will post them up as soon as I get them ready. I know you will love seeing them and I hope they will warm your hearts. I also hope that if any of you are looking for that opportunity to help, to do more in this world, that this might be the exact vision you need to get started!

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