A Travellerspoint blog

Last Impressions of the Children

As we are now leaving Keresztur and moving on to our next adventure, we thought we would do our final impressions of the children to compare it to our first ones.

Hanni - Hanni stayed fairly distant during our time at the Home, probably because the majority of our activities were aimed at the younger children. However, she always greeted us with a big hug and smile, making us feel very welcome. She also helped us a lot to communicate with the carers, using google translate on her beloved tablet.

Tulda - We noticed Tulda had quite a possessive nature, which caused arguments between the kids at times. We recognised that she was also in an awkward stage between being a child and teenager, and saw herself as more grown up than most of the children, leaving her quite cut off. She didn’t really have anyone to open up to, or anyone with a similar personality, meaning she must feel very isolated - perhaps this was one of the reasons for her temper and aggression towards the younger children.

Robbie - Robbie was somewhat the ‘leader’ of the group. Though he still enjoyed playing with the younger children, he had many friends in the local community and would often spend more time with them than with us and the children in our Home. His English definitely improved, however he often got quite frustrated if he couldn’t communicate with us, as the carers often used him as a translator. He certainly took on the role of a big brother to the rest of the children. We are unsure of Robbie’s specific story, however we know he is still somewhat in contact with his parents, though this may not be for the best; during our first week, he told us that his father was buying him an iPhone and taking him home for the weekend. Neither of these things turned out to be true, though we are unsure of the reason for this.

Poloma - Poloma was extremely energetic and loved to be outside, but only half of the time. The other half, she sat on the sofa staring blankly at the TV, shrugging her shoulders and shaking her head at any suggestions we made. Watching her and Andras playing together, they could have been children anywhere in the world, as they joked around and challenged each other to jumping competitions off of the swings. However, when she closed herself off from everyone else, we glimpsed a different side to this otherwise fun loving little girl.

Olga - Olga was a very sweet little girl, however she seemed much younger than her 10 years. As we got to know Olga more and more, it became apparent she had some kind of social or learning difficulties that weren't being addressed by the carers as far as we could see. She often took a long time to understand and remember basic things. Furthermore she would quickly and irrationally become upset by the smallest things. The other children often left her out of games or activities, or make nasty comments towards her. These situations were particularly difficult for us to prevent, as we couldn't understand what they were saying.

Lotze - Lotze was similar to Olga in that he also had clear social problems but no one recognised it. He was again quite cut off from the group and would often storm off or cry about small things. This posed another difficult situation for us as we were unsure whether to chase after him, thus giving in to his tantrum, or ignore him until he came skulking back, which he always eventually did. Lotze was clearly used to playing on his own most of the time, and loved looking for any objects on the floor he could find around the park to play with. We tried our best to engage him in games, and sometimes he was extremely receptive but at other times he preferred to be on his own. Lotze and Andras were the most responsive to us, and made us realise how much these children needed a parent. These two eight year old boys clearly craved love, but have no one on a day to day basis to give it to them.

Andras - Andras' English improved incredibly over the two weeks we were there, which was very rewarding for us to see. He was very independent and didn't like affection from us or anyone else, probably because he wasn't used to it. He fell over and cut himself a number of times whilst we were there but would just shrug off our worry and run back out to play. Like all of the children, however, he LOVED plasters and would proudly show off his newly covered wounds to the others. This led us to believe that our attention was actually appreciated, he was just unsure of how to receive it. Sometimes, like most of the children, he would get upset about seemingly irrational things and storm off. Usually within a little while, he would return with his big smile and start playing again.

On the whole, the children are very obviously troubled in different ways, which is no surprise considering their backgrounds and their current situations. They all seemed to crave some kind of love and attention, but were not quite sure how to receive it when it was given to them. They were very used to sitting inside and watching television, which is clearly what they spend most of their time doing. In order for sufficient change to happen for these children they need someone with them all the time, not just the carers to do the cooking and cleaning, but someone to play with them, give them attention and form genuine, long lasting relationships so that they know how to do this in the future.

Posted by sallyandemily 12:10 Archived in Romania Comments (0)

Photo update

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Bucharest Synagogue

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Fish jelly...

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Sally and Emily

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Parliament

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Trying to map read

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Are we home?

Posted by sallyandemily 06:09 Comments (0)

24.09.14

Sorry we haven't written for a few days - it's been very busy!
Celebrating Rosh Hashana in Bucharest was certainly a unique experience. After a 5 hour drive, we arrived at the Hotel International - a luxury compared to our accommodation in Keresztur! We settled in and made use of the English TV and bath, and were then met by Silviu, a senior member of the Jewish Community in Romania who walked us to the synagogue. Hidden away was the stunning synagogue. On the right side of the Mehitzah (!!!), we had special reserved seats at the front and sat back to watch the service. It was like no service we'd ever witnessed; no one seemed to notice when the service began and everyone kept chatting happily away. The first hour of the service seemed to be various speeches in Romanian, which we nodded and smiled at. To our surprise there was one speech in English by the Israeli ambassador to Romania, where he talked about his connection to the area and the importance of uniting the two countries. The service was an interesting mix of traditions, where Orthodox was adapted for the current community. The service was very difficult to follow, and only a few of the prayers were recognisable. Needless to say, no women partook in the service, and most female members of the congregation appeared not to even follow the service at all. Two and a half hours later, on our way out, we were given a gift of apple and honey, and spoke to many friendly members of the community, who were interested in our trip. We waited to meet a lady who was meant to take us to the dinner afterwards, but we started worrying when they were locking up the Synagogue and we realised she had gone without us! Luckily, we met a lovely old couple who offered to drive us. Upon arrival at the dinner, we were met by Magda who introduced us to some more people and showed us to our seats. There were many long tables with about 100 people dining there in total, with a lovely merry atmosphere. Despite being assured of a 'young people's party', we were definitely the youngest on our table by about 40 years, but nevertheless had interesting conversations with the people sat around us, finding out more about the Jewish community in Romania. The community is a fairly small one of 8,000 people, with Bucharest being the centre, having around 3,000 Jewish people. Most of the communities around Romania are very Orthodox, though things are slowly progressing. There's also a small Chabad community in Bucharest, which is extremely orthodox. The dinner itself was a twist on a traditional Jewish dinner. The first course was some kind of fish in jelly, apparently a Romanian delicacy, followed by beef soup, chicken with vegetables and finally honey cake. We then got a taxi back to our hotel (costing only 40p!) where we got some well needed rest after our long day.
The next day we were met again by Silvui, who filled us in on his role as the Vice President of the Jewish Federation in Romania. We were amazed someone so busy and official gave us so much of his time. He told us on the phone we would be treated like VIPs and we certainly were. He walked us to a bus stop where he bought us tickets for a 'hop on, hop off' bus around Bucharest, where we saw many of the sights including the Presidential palace, the second largest building in the world. Later, we decided to try out some of the Bucharest night life, which was extremely different to London. The atmosphere was the main difference, as we noticed many groups of older men rather than the younger crowd which we were expecting. It reiterated to us that even in the capital of Romania, women are still treated in such a way that they feel uncomfortable to go out alone, probably not helped by the fact a number of places were 'massage bars'. We had a fun evening but were relieved to get back to our lovely hotel, which we left early the next morning to come back to Keresztur. It was certainly a very eye opening experience!

Posted by sallyandemily 03:46 Archived in Romania Comments (0)

23.09.14

rain 10 °C

We have found the last few days the most challenging yet. Not only has our time at the Home been challenging for a number of reasons, but we’ve also never felt so far from home as our friends begin university. The rain soaked Emily’s bed, our bedroom constantly smells of cabbage from the drains and the wifi is getting less and less reliable… all in all not a great couple of days. However, we’ve had an exciting new challenge as we have started helping the English teacher at the local high school in the mornings. So far, we have met three classes. One was a 9th Grade class, who are all 14 or 15 and have just started high school, then we met two 11th Grade aged 16-17, with one of these classes in particular having a very high level of English, allowing us to discuss Romanian and English politics together. Although we’re yet to do any teaching, we enjoyed talking to them and answering their questions about ourselves, London and British teenagers in general. We found it interesting to talk about the differences and similarities between us. The English teacher has been lovely and speaks fluent English (very rare in Keresztur!) and has really taken us under her wing. Tomorrow, we are heading to Bucharest for Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and we look forward to this break in our week.

Posted by sallyandemily 14:01 Archived in Romania Comments (0)

Photo update

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Sally and Emily

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Brasov or Hollywood?!

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Dracula's Castle

Posted by sallyandemily 13:24 Comments (0)

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