I don't have a newspaper column to post today because I took last week off while my mother was visiting. Sometimes, it can take hours to write one of those things, and it wouldn't do to have my mother sitting alone while I work in the corner and talk to myself until a column emerges. Now that she has gone back home, though, I can get to work on the next project, and here's what it is: I'M GOING TO ROMANIA!
Here's how this upcoming trip came about: Months ago, Eustacia was thinking about what she would do with herself over the summer—she doesn't have a job and wouldn't be taking summer classes, so she decided to find a volunteer project. She investigated several options and chose United Planet, a non-profit organization that sends people to spots all over the world to help out with healthcare, environmental projects or teaching English. Eustacia decided she'd like to spend a month working at an orphanage in Tanzania.
We've known other people her age who have gone on similar trips, but they traveled with a group. When you volunteer with United Planet, you travel alone, and when Husband and I thought about our daughter flying to Tanzania all by herself, we just couldn't accept the idea. Then Husband suggested that I go with her, and then we'd both feel more secure about the whole thing.
I thought about it for about ten minutes and decided what the heck. I'll go to Tanzania for a month. But then I read about the work involved—it seemed mostly like light construction work and lots of farm work with only a little time in the evenings spent with the kids. Eustacia's goal was to work with the kids more than work on their property, so we chose the orphanage in Romania instead. The program seems more suited to Eustacia's main goal.
No. 1 talked about going with us but couldn't take an entire month off from school. She suggested we go for two weeks instead. We agreed, and then she decided she couldn't go at all. So, two weeks in Romania it is.
We'll be going to Valea Screzii, a small mountain village about three hours north of Bucharest, and we'll be working at an orphanage started by a Romanian priest. Father Tanase was strongly anti-abortion, and when pregnant women told him they would carry their babies to term if they knew someone else would take care of them, he stood up to help. He was approached by more and more women and took on more and more children. He found foster homes for them in two small villages and then built an orphanage for the others, one that holds about 30 kids from infants to teenagers. He and his program, Pro Vita, have since helped over 1,000 kids, and they now build houses and offer aid for poor women who would like to keep their children but can't afford to raise them on their own.
Eustacia and I will stay in a guest house next to the orphanage with a few other volunteers, and we'll be given a work assignment each day—laundry, cooking, cleaning, nursery, arts and crafts, teaching English, pulling weeds, feeding goats.... You name it. On the weekend, we'll go to one of the village churches and tour Vlad Dracula's castle; and if there is a special event in the village like a wedding or party, we may be invited.
We'll leave Sunday June 20 and will arrive in Bucharest the following afternoon. We'll stay in Valea Screzii until July 5 and will land back home in Cleveland on the 6th. So, here we go on a grand adventure—we're extremely excited. We've got all the tickets and just need to pack.
Here is a portion of a much longer video about a typical day in the village and orphanage:
And here is a shorter video specifically about the orphanage: