A Travellerspoint blog

17.09.14

overcast 23 °C

We've been finding that the days are getting easier as the kids are warming to us more and the language barrier is becoming less of an issue. We tried very hard today to teach the kids more English phrases, as Erno stressed to us the importance of them knowing English as it sets them up for later life. This started when we were drawing with the children, and taught them the colours, as well as saying "I like" or "I don't like". They've improved so much in three days so we're really excited to see how much we can help them in a month.
However, today wasn't without it's difficulties. Little Andras was playing on a swing, and being as hyper as he always is, and he fell off. We both panicked as he sat up and started crying. When we rushed over we realised he had a nasty cut on the back of his head, bleeding heavily. We quickly rushed him back to the house, unsure of whether it our responsibility or the carers to look after him and make a decision about whether to see a doctor. The carer looked after him in a professional manner by cleaning his wound with alcohol. However, we couldn't help but notice the lack of compassion and affection from her. We thought back to when we were 8; at that age, the idea of not having someone to cuddle us after we hurt ourselves, be it a scraped knee or a broken limb, is unimaginable. These children have no-one to comfort them, bar the other children in the Home, who are only children themselves. Even more harrowingly, when we later attempted to give Andras a hug and tell him what a brave boy he had been, we were met with disinterest and even hostility from him. From what we've seen so far, these children are not used to this kind of affection, which is likely to have damaging affects in the future, and the events of today have demonstrated how much we can try to influence these children positively. We've realised that it's important to teach this generation of children how to form healthy, loving relationships, not only for themselves, but also for their children and future generations.
Food today was definitely the best we've had so far! Lunch was tomato soup, followed by potatoes in sauce (suspiciously similar to Monday's soup!). We had an afternoon snack of bread with chocolate spread, which was delicious, and to our surprise dinner was also sweet; bowls of a something similar to rice pudding, topped with cocoa powder and sugar. Although a huge improvement on chicken liver, we couldn't quite bring ourselves to have three helpings like the children!

Sally and Emily xx

Posted by sallyandemily 12:33 Archived in Romania Comments (0)

16/09/14

semi-overcast 22 °C

Today was as intense as yesterday. We visited the care home from 2-8 with only a 10 minute break. We realised exactly what our purpose is here; though it is partly to keep the children entertained, it is more about giving them attention and teaching them to form relationships. These children have no parental figure. There are 5 carers that work in the homes but, from what we’ve seen, their role appears to be domestically focused, such as cooking and cleaning, rather than playing and interacting with the children. This means that they lack the fundamental love and attention most children get from a parent or family. Though we have as much fun as them playing ‘duck duck goose’ or Hungarian clapping games, the most valuable contribution from us is simply holding their hands, or saying “Well Done!” when they show us something. Teaching them some English is also extremely rewarding, as even after one day the kids are already beginning to use new English words. Our names, however, appear to still be a challenge for them! We look forward to watching their English further progress, along with their emotional development.
Food today was a low point; we were presented with yesterday’s potato soup for lunch, followed by chicken liver. Sally in particular found this one hard to stomach (quite literally she thew up), and was forced to hastily scrape her remains onto Emily’s plate. We are very conscious of being polite ad not insulting the carers who prepare the food, however Hungarian delicacies are VERY different to English ones. A dinner of bread and butter barely filled us up, though we luckily managed to avoid the fish pate on offer. To our disappointment, the village’s one restaurant was closed, so we made do with some chocolate and dried fruit from our backpacks for dinner in our bedroom. Let’s hope tomorrow’s food is more successful…

Sally and Emily xx

Posted by sallyandemily 01:24 Archived in Romania Comments (0)

First Impressions of the Children

We wanted to note something about all the children we met today...

Hanni - At 20, Hanni is the oldest girl in the home. We didn't see very much of her as she seemed quite independent and didn't want to play much with the younger kids. However, she was very welcoming to us both and tried her best efforts to speak English, translating everything she wanted to say on google. She seems very young for age, and we think she may have learning difficulties, which would explain why she is in a Home for young children.

Robbie - Robbie is the next oldest at 11. We were both surprised that he can speak better English than everyone else in the house and he was very helpful when we couldn't communicate with the other children. He seemed like a very fun but also sensible boy, who really looks after the other children in the house.

Tulda - Tulda is also 11. Though we didn't seem much of her in the afternoon, when we returned for the evening she was full of excitement. She loved playing clapping games and taught us a few Hungarian ones.

Poloma - Poloma is 10. She especially enjoyed playing outside, particularly with the ball and didn't seem to have any fear about climbing on top of the tall swingset or having a bit of rough play with the boys. When we returned in the evening, she had built a model farm and was very keen to learn the animals names in English.

Olga - Olga is also 10. She seemed quite shy compared to the other children, and chose not to join in several games, but has a lovely character. She loved chasing us round trying to tickle us! We also got to see her dancing as a mix of English and Romanian songs came on the music channel. Hopefully we'll be able to bring her more out of her shell as we get to know her better.

Andras - Andras is 8 though looks a lot younger. His nickname is "Cheeky Monkey" and we soon found out why! He was so energetic, tiring us out running round the house and the play area. He showed off his acrobatic skills and shouted 'Sally!' or 'Emily' or any other English name he could think of (including 'Becky, 'Christina' and 'Beef!) to get our attention. He has such a cheeky little smile and seems happy to play anything, as long as he's expelling energy!

Lotze - Lotze is also 8 and seems very much like the baby of the group. He's very sweet and loves to play, though he can be tiring as he makes sure you watch every little thing he does! He took us for a walk round the area he lives which is very close to us. His social skills appeared undeveloped.

Posted by sallyandemily 12:37 Archived in Romania Comments (0)

15.09.14

sunny 23 °C

Today was an overwhelming day. We woke up at 6 AM this morning in a panic; although we are now used to the church bells ringing on the hour, this morning they carried on for a good 5 minutes. In our stupor, we felt sure that this was a fire alarm, and that we were going to be burnt alive as no-one came to save us. Erno later explained that this is simply the town's alarm clock, and we can look forward to being awoken in this way every morning...
Erno collected us as at 12pm (about half an hour after we managed to drag ourselves out of bed). He drove us to the Child Protection office, where we were told about our project and warned that it might be a lot to take in. The head of the Child Protection agency commented on how young we were to be doing this and how a month is a long time, which scared us both! The Homes are run by the Romanian government, and house around 8 children each, aged between 4 and 22. 5 carers rotate shifts, doing 5 hours each a day. This means that the children get very little attention, which is particularly difficult for the younger ones. From the office we were taken straight to our Care Home, about two minutes away, situated in a large block of flats. Along the way Erno kept asking us if we were nervous, which obviously only made us more nervous... We were met at the flat by the carer, who spoke no English, and introduced to the children by Erno. The youngest child is 8 and the oldest is 20. We were immediately offered lunch, which was potato soup followed by pasta, and then rushed off to read English books to the younger children. They seemed excited for us to be there, but also a bit nervous about getting to know us.mWe then took them outside, without the carer, to the park/play area which surrounds the flats, and were ordered in pigeon-English and sign language to push the children on the swings, and play catch with them. Worryingly, many of them ran off to see their friends around the area, and we had no way of keeping track of them, nor any way of knowing what they were and were not allowed to do. We were very much thrown into the deep end! It was very much like trying to babysit 7 children who spoke no English and were used to having no authority figures around them. Anxious and exhausted, we took them back to the flat to start their homework, and we got an hour and a half break and went to the coffee-shop/ bar. The afternoon had been extremely intense and hard work, and we worried about repeating it every day for a month.
When we returned at 6.30 however the children greeted us with excitement, obviously having warmed to us. Girls dinner was at 6.45 and the boys ate afterwards, as 8 of them could not possibly have fit round their tiny kitchen table. Dinner was pasta with mushroom sauce, but much to our surprise the younger girls chose to put sugar on their pasta instead! We were given special bowls and the seats of honour, and the new carer was far friendlier and easier to communicate with than the first one, although she too spoke no English. We tried our best to chat in broken English and Hungarian to the girls at dinner, where they mostly told us about their school day and their favourite lessons. After dinner we were given a mini Hungarian lesson by 11 year old Robbie, who's English is by far the best of all the children (and carers), and can now say 'thank you' (Kes-o-num), 'yes' (i-gen) and 'no' (nam). We then played clapping games and 'duck duck goose' until 8.15. We left the Home feeling far more positive and excited for tomorrow, and went to get a pizza. Erno called us tonight to see how everything went today, and promised to visit on Thursday.

Sally and Emily xx

Posted by sallyandemily 20:49 Archived in Romania Comments (0)

Photos 14.09.14

sunny 25 °C

IMG_8299.jpg
Sally outside our cute accommodation

IMG_8295.jpg
Plane selfie before take off!

Posted by sallyandemily 21:17 Archived in Romania Comments (0)

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