La Revedere!

Saturday 27th July, time to go home! 😦

Can’t believe we’re sat in Sibiu airport again… these past 2 weeks have flown by and we’re gutted to be leaving.

Bianca Project 2019 has been full of smiles, laughter and lots and lots of fun.

We’ve achieved things this year we could only have dreamt of in our first year. We’ve been able to take the children on trips out; swimming, cinema, out for dinner, to the park… we’ve been super busy but it’s so worth it to see the children’s faces light up. Although these activities seem so simple, it’s a massive leap for us and shows the hard work we put in building rapport with the staff at the centre is starting to show.

As always, a huge huge HUGE thank you to the SHARE charity for allowing us to be apart of the Bianca Project another year. The project and the children it supports have a special place in our hearts. Lastly, a big thank you to Jane for your continued passion and motivation because without you SHARE wouldn’t exist.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading the blogs, hopefully our writing skills are improving each year (?!) It’s a great way to reflect on what we’ve been up to and to know we can read back on these one day.

La Revedere Romania! Until next year….

Nicky and Josephine x

Thursday 25th July 2019

Today was a busy one: This morning I went along with the children to Little John’s summer school. Seeing them running off the bus with big smiles on their faces is amazing; they know to expect a day of fun, treats and lots of eager volunteers ready to play with them. For us, it’s lovely to get to know other children from the local community and other centres in the area and it’s great to see our children interact with new people.

In the afternoon, we took four of the older kids to the local park. We had the best afternoon in the sunshine; I don’t think any of us stoped smiling and laughing all afternoon! After prizing them away from our phones (they are teenagers after all!) we sat and had biscuits and drinks and played turn-taking games, duck duck goose was a firm favourite!

This evening I had the opportunity to visit a family in Sibiu who have a son with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Previous volunteers had already met with the family, so myself and Lindsay, an occupational therapist, went to catch up and provide some more info. The son is in his 20’s and can present with some challenging behaviours at home, so the family wanted support with using visuals to help him understand changes in routine. The Mum is a lovely lady and you could tell she just wanted to do the best by her son. We told her (via the translator who was with us!) how calm and loving their home felt. The Mum was very appreciate of our time and thanked us for the work we’re doing in Sibiu. I hope we provided some reassurance today and it has helped the Mum to realise what an excellent job she is doing. It was so refreshing for us to see an adult with learning disabilities being supported by his family in the community, as our experience is only of residential centres. It made us realise how fortunate UK families are. Families in similar positions, caring for a young adult with disabilities, would have access to support services in order to be able to care for their child at home. Unfortunately, this kind of support is not consistent in Romania and is part of the reason why children grow up in residential centres like Speranta.

Nicky x

Wednesday 24th July 2019

Following a lovely morning at the centre and a quick bite to eat it was time to head back to the centre to take some of the girls out for a long awaited trip to the cinema.

One of the older girls at the centre had requested to go to the cinema; she wanted some of the other girls to come too which was nice. We picked the girls up at 4pm and off we went on our girly evening out.

One of the girls has Muscular Dystrophy which means she is in a wheel chair and has little control over her limbs. Sibiu is not wheel chair friendly and we noticed this more and more as we battled uneven pavements, no kerb ramps which drop off pavements, no ramps to go under under-passes which meant we had to go a really long way over lots of roads only to be greeted with an extremely steep ramp at the cinema which was virtually impossible to push her up (plus a car had blocked it…)

Prior to the cinema we got some food; initially the girls were hesitant to ask for food, but once one did they all did! Eating out is an unfamiliar event for most the children at the centre, so it’s always interesting watching them choose their food and then see their faces when it comes.

Tummies filled with sandwiches, chips, doughnuts and fizzy drinks we headed off to the cinema, of course we were going to watch the Lion King!! But first we had to tackle the stairs. The girl in the wheel chair was embarrassed and upset as we had to seek help and wait to use the lift, but once we were in the screen she loved it. 3D glasses on, popcorn in one hand, fizzy drink in the other, we watched the film. All the girls seemed to really enjoy the movie and we sang the songs all the way back to the centre!

I think we made some good memories this evening and hopefully plenty more to come!

Until next time,

Josephine x

Day Five!

Friday 19th July 

This morning we had the opportunity to visit a centre for adults with learning disabilities. This is one of a few centres in the area that the children at Speranta move onto, once they turn 18.

We were apprehensive before arriving; like the children’s centres in Romania, not all of them have a great reputation.

Like the children’s centre we’re working in, the adults are grouped into houses, except on a much bigger scale. The lady showing us around, a social worker at the centre, said they were over a 100 adults who lived there. We were able to look around a few of the houses and in between we attracted lots of inquisitive residents who were all very polite and were excited to greet us. There were lots of very big smiles when we were allowed to get water guns out!

Like Speranta, there were lots of people per house and unfortunately, often only a few carers. Putting yourself in the carer’s shoes, you can understand why there’s so little interaction or communication with the adults – purely because they don’t have the time or the physical man power.

It was amazing to see some familiar faces from Speranta but so surreal to see them in a different environment. One boy who has moved fairly recently seemed excited to see us and we were pleased to see he was still as cheeky, reaching out and pinching anyone he could (in a friendly way, kind of!)

It was a bitter sweet morning; I think we all left with mixed feelings but very grateful for the opportunity. It’s hard to see centres like this when we live in a country that offers such a different system to adults with disabilities. I’m sure we all know of a family member/friend who may have additional needs, but with support live happy and fulfilling lives in the community. There’s simply not the education or financial input in Romania and unfortunately that has to start at the top with the government… We know the work we do is just a drop in a very big ocean but we put some smiles on people’s faces today, and that’s a good place to start 💛

Nicky and Jo x

Day Four!

This morning was again super quiet at the centre due to lots of the children being at Little Johns Summer school. It’s going to be a shock to the system next week when Little Johns isn’t on for them and they’re all back running riot at the centre!! … bring it on!

This evening we took a small group of four children out to the park. Obviously they all had a fantastic time and enjoyed playing on every single piece of play equipment (big workout for us guys lifting them on and off!)
We then had some ice creams which again went down very well! Lots of sticky fingers, melted ice cream dribbling down chins and giant smiles all round. An activity so easily taken for granted.

Whilst at the park I noticed a lady frequently watching us; we didn’t think too much because this is quite typical in Romania (and the UK) when walking around with children who look or act slightly different, so we carried on as normal. Later she approached some of us and wanted to know more about the centre and our work with the children. She could not stop singing our praises and talked about how important it is for adults and other children to see these children out in the community; to ‘raise awareness’ about these children and have typically developing children play alongside them. Prior to having children of her own she and her sister had worked with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in orphanages similar to the one we work in and they’re both hopeful to get back to it once their children have grown up.

Tomorrow we are going to feed back to the director of the centre on this discussion- operation get the children out in the community as much as possible (and not just when we are out there) is underway!

Until next time,

Josephine and Nicky

Day three!

Day three at the centre and we seem to be doing more and more things with the children than we could have ever imagined in our first year doing the project!

The morning was very quiet, most of the more physically able and ‘big character’ children had gone to Little Johns which left us with some very sleepy children who were still recovering from our big swimming trip earlier in the week!! The morning was full of sensory play, singing, trampolining and some cuddles all accompanied by the the repetitive sounds coming from musical Fisher Price toys in the background! The carers were also out this morning and looked to be enjoy playing with the children too; which was nice!

Following a quick trip to the pool to cool off and grab some lunch, we headed back to the centre for more time with the children! This time we took a small group out for tea and then to the park! They were certainly happy to see us again and were eager to show us their newly made-up selves! Makeup, jewellery and two boys were busy proudly parading around with their smart looking watches on!

We covered lots of everyday skills today including crossing the road, using a knife and fork and ordering food. One young adult, enjoyed using google translate to chat to us and tell us about how she got to the centre. One thing a lot of us commented on today was the progress in how communicative the children are and how their understanding is increasing; it’s great to see progress like this.

Looking forward to tomorrow’s antics!!

Josephine and Nicky

Bianca Project 2019!

15/07/2019

We are back in Sibiu! Bianca Project 2019 has started!

Sunday was spent relaxing, exploring the markets and eating the infamous doughnuts we’ve been thinking about all year!

Today was our first day back at the centre. We started the morning going around the four houses saying hello to all the kids again. We were greeted by so many smiling faces, children calling our names and the usual pat down to see what toys we had!

After a year away, it’s really easy to spot how the kids have changed – they all seem so much taller and more grown up. Their personalities certainly haven’t changed though!

This afternoon, we were able to take five of the children to the indoor swimming pool in town. Taking the kids out of the centre is something we’d never have imagined in our first year here. The children that came with us are often quite protected by the carers, they are often cautious about taking them out their wheelchairs/cots etc so it felt like an even bigger achievement!

The kids LOVED swimming even more than we imagined, lots of smiles and giggles and a lot of splashing from one little boy…

We definitely tired them (and us) out but it was so worth it.

Can’t wait to see what the rest of the week brings!

Nicky and Jo x

La Revedere Romania!

Sat in the airport with the girls, sweet and sour feelings. Another year until we see the children again, another year until we can see those smiles and hear those laughs again. On reflection though, the progress at the centre compared to last summer has been fantastic! A change in mentality from lots of carers and just much more love and positivity within the centre. 

Our last 2 days at the centre we were able to take some children to the park in the afternoon. This shows that the carers trust in us is improving and they’re more aware of why we’re there and what we do. A simple trip out – walking down the road to the park, which most kids probably do regularly was a massive thing for our children. It was so lovely to see them in a different environment and sitting in the sunshine eating ice lollies with them was a special moment. Next year we’re going to aim for the pool! (We’ll try our luck!) 

This year’s trip has been brilliant, and all the volunteers have definitely made the children very happy for the past 6 weeks. Is there any better feeling than that? 

Huge thank you to Jane and Martin – without Share charity and the Bianca Project we wouldn’t be able to do this. They sadly haven’t been able to come out to Sibiu this Summer but know they’re itching to visit, they were really missed this year but hopefully see you soon. 

La revedere Romania! 

Jo and Nicky x 

The past few days!

We’ve had a great couple of mornings at the centre; the sun has been shining so all the kids have been outside and we’ve been able to mix together a lot.

We’ve noticed a difference in the carers this year, they’ve been sat outside with the kids and joining in with the activities we do. This has been great for developing relationships with the carers. Nicky even got coffee and melon from one of the carers which was a nice surprise although had to eat a very large plate full as the carer wouldn’t take no for an answer! 

We had a really lovely translator today, one of Jane’s friends daughter was interested in what we do at the centre so wanted to help us out. We were able to find out a bit more about where some of the children go to school. We were also able to listen in between two of the children who we think have a little crush on each other which was very interesting! Although the translator said their sentences were a bit jumbled and difficult to understand – we always wonder about the children’s language levels so having a translator is really helpful. 

There’s a few new children at the centre this year and one little boy is very keen for attention, he’ll vocalise and wave and won’t stop until he gets someone. He has the biggest smile and responds really well to praise. He’s in a wheelchair but shocked us all when we let him on the climbing frame.. his bum shuffling is very very quick! 

Some of the volunteers went shopping yesterday to spend the money we had raised through our just giving page. The staff told us they had lots of nappies for the younger children but pull ups for the older kids are more expensive so they often have to ration them so we invested in 240 pull ups which will hopefully help them out. We also bought some toys we thought the kids would like – a doll and a pram for one of the new little girls who loves babies, remote control cars and books and puzzles. One of our best purchases was some gym gloves for a little boy who cuts his hands on his wheelchair – he loved them and was able to wheel about a lot faster today. We’re going to spend the remaining Lei on treats for the carers/kids on our last day. Thank you so much to everyone who donated we really appreciate it and you’ve made some lovely children very happy! 

We’ve got 2 more days at the centre so we’re going to make sure we give the kids lots of cuddles and lots of opportunities to play! 

Love Micky (as I keep being called by one boy at the centre) and Silly Jo (we taught one of the girls who always copies English that this is her name!) Ciao xxxxxx

Weekend in Dacia

After some issues hiring cars, 5 of us set off to Dacia on Saturday afternoon leaving the other 4 of our group behind. 4 of us had been last year so knew what to expect but I don’t think we were fully prepared for the weekends events….

List of things that went wrong this weekend:

-Ringing Fritz (our host) and having some translation difficulties, he eventually understood we were on our way 

-We couldn’t find the right Dacia in the satnav, apparently there’s more than one?! 

-A small incident involving a parked car and a wing mirror 

-Another small incident involving a large curb 

-Guessing the speed limit the entire way there 

-Arriving to Dacia to torrential rain 

-Waking up on Sunday morning to a flat tyre and a suspicious scrape on the side of the car

-It was Sunday so all garages were closed (couldn’t fix the wheel) 

-had to drive with a spare wheel on all the way home, which meant we couldn’t go above 50km? 

-Decided not to drive up the mountain to Jacodu with a spare wheel on so not being able to visit the charity projects there 

BUT…. there were some positives:

-We made it there and back alive 

-Watching the cows walk home in Dacia 

-We met lots of cute dogs 

-Playing charades with Alvera (Romanian Lady who lives with Fritz and kindly cooked us lots of food) she speaks no English so communicating was quite funny… we had to resort to ‘moo’ for cow at one point 

-Georgia taught us a new card game and it was lovely to get to know her a bit better and show her the sights of Dacia! 

-Singing with Fritz and his guitar (although this could also be listed above due to the broken guitar strings) 

-We met a lovely German family who used to volunteer with the church and were now back in Dacia on holiday with their children. We gave the kids some sweets and skipping ropes out of our donated toys and their little faces lit up! It was nice to see kids in muddy wellies playing with each other rather than glued to an iPhone! 

We got back to Sibiu to find out the rest of the group had a very relaxing weekend in a spa they had found!!!!!! Who had have thought there was a spa in Sibiu?!  

But they did take us there after the centre yesterday so they’re forgiven…. 

See you next year Dacia!