If you'll remember, Eustacia and I spent some time at an orphanage in Romania last summer, working as volunteers for United Planet. On the surface, it's a ramshackle place with a string of buildings lining a dirt road, cows wandering away from their herder, mules braying at all hours and cooking done in black iron kettles made by local Roma. There would be no meat for days, and wild dogs roamed the place like a plague. But we loved the place, Pro Vita. In fact, Eustacia went back for about two weeks last winter. She nearly froze to death with little heat, no hot water, and freezing temperatures; but when she came home, she said if anything, she bonded even more closely with the people there.
Well, there was a big fire at Pro Vita earlier this week. It broke out in the buildings just beyond the residences where no kids are living. The nearby houses were quickly evacuated, and people formed a line to remove as much stuff as possible—the building housed the kitchen, dining room and pantry, along with office space and activity rooms. Fire firefighters struggled through bad road conditions and heavy fog to get to the remote spot, and it took them an hour to finally arrive. They did what the could, but the buildings are a total loss.
Now, Pro Vita is planning to rebuild as soon as possible. They can't go without these common areas, and certainly can't go without providing food for the more than 100 people who live on the property. The people there have no other resources.
All this to say that if you're looking for a charity to give to this holiday season, or if you were thinking you'd give a charitable gift as a present for someone on your list, I've got a good one. United Planet has set up a fund that will help support Pro Vita as they rebuild. Go take a look, and fill someone's stocking with something really valuable.