Monday, March 7, 2011

A Gallop To The Finish

It is hard to believe that we are leaving Romania in a week. Our Ministerial Visa's expire on March 15th, along with soles of our shoes and the linings of our coats. We are tired yet still energized, if those two words can be used in the same sentence. Through phenomenal people, we have experienced amazing things--some heart-warming, some heart-rending. We have traveled by train to the borders, through the mountains, and through the most beautiful countryside anyone can imagine. But...all good things must come to an end and that is good because we are SO EXCITED TO GO HOME!

In January we submitted a project that has become one of our favorites. We wrote it through tears and when it was reviewed in Germany, our Area Welfare Manager was so touched that he booked a flight to Romania to visit Noreen O'Gorman and accompany her on her daily nursing rounds in the villages near Slobozia. Just when we were breaking out the Bon Bons, we got a call telling us that John Mulligan, our supervisor's, supervisor was on his way! He is the man at the top who has the final say in whether a project is approved...or not. We love this man but his timing was a bit inconvenient! We cleared our calendar, put our suitcases away, and made reservations for the hotel, rented a car and arranged a driver. We spent one day visiting two families and returned to Bucharest with a heart-full of stories that we will never forget.

This is John Mulligan, learning first-hand about Romanian wind and snow.

Knowing we would be visiting very poor families, we gathered food, cooking pots, clothes, blankets, and toys and came bearing gifts. In this modest house, in one heated room, a single father is raising three young children. Since he is poor, he is in danger of having to place the children in an orphanage, as that is the only help offered by Child Protection.

The children loved the toys.

We wrapped them in hats and scarves and blankets and they were so happy.

The father cares for the children and cooks on this stove. It is also the heat source for the house.

The next stop was a modest home where all three of the children have been diagnosed with Leigh Syndrome, a rare progressive neurological condition that causes deterioration in the brain, muscle wasting, difficulty breathing and swallowing and eventually leads to death at a young age.
The clothes on the line tell the story.

This little boy can no longer walk or sit unaided or talk.

Noreen examines the five-year-old. She cannot walk or sit by herself.

This little boy is almost three and now developing signs of the disease. He walked at 1 year and now cannot take steps.

This is really a bad picture of Noreen but I wanted to share what true compassion looks like. She is a 'Mother Teresa' to these families. Here, she is quietly explaining the progression of the children's disease. The parents are being told that their children will only live until age 6 or 7. Flori is a social worker who accompanies Noreen on her home visits.

This picture captured the worried look of a loving father.

I couldn't get over the lines of laundry produced by this family.

Noreen regularly visits 300 people who are sick or need help to survive. She is an angel that we will find hard to leave.
Now you know how bitter-sweet this last week will be for us.