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.