Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A day of discovery

Today was a day full of discoveries. We learned this morning when we arrived at the Barlad hospital that we would be able to work with the children that were in isolation. Robin and Luisa volunteered to attend to this room. They discovered three babies under 12 months old and probably under 5 lbs each. Except for little Maruna, who is a healthy, chubby cheeked little girl with down syndrome. I diagnosed her; yep, call me Dr. Hanley (just kidding). Maruna loved being held by Robin, and when she laid her down Maruna cried, so of course she had to be picked back up!!! We also discovered that Cleo looks adorable in a tutu!! When we arrived Coca, the nurse aide the babies, who is paid by Global Volunteers, had her dressed in one of the tutu's that Evan had delivered the day before. I discovered that little Allena has more "language" than she lets on, and this was demonstrated when she was interacting with Mihalia, our team leader. We discovered that our progression with Chistian was slowed today, because he was a little fussy but Kristin worked her magic with him. She had him laughing and smiling, as long as his belly was full and diaper was clean. Little Delia is still running a temperature but in spite of that she still manages to look oh so adorable and make the funniest faces. I can't imagine what she is going to be like when she is feeling better. We discovered that our "plan" for Eanoots was just that, our plan, that little guy is a puzzle that I'm sure our team will help in some way. I discovered that Gabi is a fun feeding challenge, and hope to get her taking a few bites with her teeth before we leave. She loved to eat but doesn't really like her face touched, so that creates some opportunity for me to discover other ways to met the same goals. On our break we walked to the cafe, because we discovered it had the best bathrooms and pastries (priorities). Unfortunately, we were only able to partake of the pastries because the water was not working at the cafe. Wow, all this in one day! I was thinking the third day might be less interesting....... We ended the day having wine, and sharing stories in Evan's single room!

***This was my journal entry for our team. Each day someone writes in the journal and another person shares a message of the day. Today was my message and tomorrow, I will share this journal entry for our team.

I want to all direct you to a fellow volunteer's blog. Robin is an artist, and her blog is Her pictures are excellent.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Day 2

Day 2 at the Barlad Hospital. It feels like I've know the kids at the hospital for weeks, yet we just met yesterday. Today was more relaxed, or maybe I should say I was more relaxed. We arrived with stuff. We inventoried and decided that they needed diapers, wipes, paper towels for us to dry our hands and wipe up spittle. We also got yogurt. Several of the volunteers brought clothing donations, and I took my donations today. They were greatly appreciated. We were able to expose the skin of the kids without any of the well meaning nurses getting on to us. In Romania it is believed that children should be kept warm or they will get sick. The hospital is kept very warm and no windows are open (unless we sneak and open one). In addition to this the children are dressed in layers and clothed from head to toe. However, today little Delia was only in a pair of socks and a long sleeve onesie. Her remaining leg, which we discovered today is deformed, was exposed so we let her touch and kick! We also touched and massaged her residual right arm. Actually, Kristin put a chair under a bouncer and helped her use her leg to bounce. We also placed a doll near her arm and she touched it, smiling. She did all this despite the 102 temp which was treated with an alcohol bath. Each child has a similar story. Allena spoke very clear English today, saying "I love you", then promptly whacked Kristin across the face. Day two came with some time out for Allena.

I mentioned in my last post that they picked up two more children for us to take care of over the next two weeks. Gabi and Eunuts are both at the center for children with disabilities. Here is what I understand: This is a place for children, with and without parents, who have disabilities. Most of the parents do not see the kids. Beyond, that I don't know much more. It sounds like the children are just there....taken care of the best that they can. These children come to the Barlad hospital for evaluations and when volunteers are here, brought to the hospital for extra stimulation. Gabi is a beautiful child, apparently a twin. Her sister is with a foster family, is learning to walk, and has taken each of us up and down the hall holding just one hand to practice and get stronger. She is also learning to eat solid food. More on that later. Gabi has a visual impairment, and when she looks at things she uses her peripheral vision. Today she discovered the new kid, Christian, and looked him up and down with her nose very close to him. He loved it and laughed. After her examination, Christian, Gabi and I listened to a Dr. Suess book on my iPhone. She wanted a closer look at my phone and crawled over Christian to get a better view. He did not like that and we had to rearrange so she and Christian would both be able to see my phone. Eanuts is a puzzle. He is fussy and really doesn't want interaction. :(  Our team decided to keep his stimulation low the first day, and to try slowly to increase his interactions in hopes that he will become more acclimated. He is a beautiful boy who is one of those kids that I want to help, but we need to wait and follow his lead. We have such a great team, I'm sure we'll figure it out.

What else? Oh, my foodies. We found a cafe, a short walk from the hospital. On our break today, Robin and I walked over and had a mini pastry and chai. I had a beautiful mini eclair. Dinner was at a lovely Italian restaurant.

It was a day filled with food and lots of poop (kisses in Romanian)!!

Looking forward to tomorrow.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A day of bliss....

Many of you are waiting anxiously to here about my first day of volunteering. I have to say, I am speechless. It was wonderful, humbling, heartbreaking, peaceful, thought provoking and fun! My adorable roommate, who is a frequent volunteer of Romania, couldn't sleep last night because she was so excited. I dreamed Romanian words and still didn't have them down today (I will by the time I leave). After breakfast, we headed to the hospital. This is where the volunteer program has moved due to the Tutiva (sp?) clinic closing some time last year. There we found 4 children; yes, orphans, for us to care for at the hospital: Dalia, Mariacleopatra, Christian and Allena. 3 more were in isolation due to a stomach.
Yes, they are all as adorable as their names sound. Allena, the only mobile and most alert, squealed in excitement when she heard us speaking English. She has dwarfism. She knows the routine and was excited to have people to climb on, lead around, and be silly for. Dalia, who had a fever, wanted to be carried around. Dalia was born missing 3 of her extremities. She only has a right leg. She is beautiful and has so so much potential. It was reported that she has recently been looked at for prosthetics (FINGERS CROSSED). Christian, well if you don't want to hear the most sad story skip this part. He had only been there 3 days and was found being kept in a building with cats and dogs. In just one day with Robin and Kristin, two of our team members, he went from stiff and not wanting to be touched to laughing and grasping things. Finally, sweet Cleo. She has hydrocephalus and we were told had little to no brain function. She received a shunt last year (she is 4 years old). Well, my therapist friends will get this... She drinks from a bottle without difficulty, responds to sound vibration, and today I heard her laugh out loud when I was playing with her. I think she has more than a little brain function. She even went with our host, Dan, to another center to pick up 2 more children who needed stimulation/play/interaction. I'll tell more about them tomorrow. Let's just say that if you ever wanted to make a difference in the life of children who desperately needs someone, this is the place to be. This is where I was meant to be, right here, right now; it's a God-thing. See my pictures and you will understand, maybe... If not, book your flight and come see for yourself.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A day in Barlad

Today was our first look at Barlad in the light. It is an eastern Romanian rural city at this time, with lots of left over snow. I've learned that the city is the site of the oldest writings on clay. People get around by walking, taking a horse and buggy, or car. After a not so great breakfast, we ventured out. Across from our hotel, The Occident, was a weekend open market. There, we found live guinea birds, rabbits, and pigeons for sale. Then further inside the market were fresh fruits, local made cow's cheese and fresh meat. It was lovely. There were also some handmade items. I purchased a sheepskin hat for Camden. He is going to love it. I took a picture of the man that was selling them and have it posted below.

Following that adventure, we had orientation for our volunteer program, which we will begin tomorrow and a lesson in Romanian language that I'm sure I've already forgotten. Finally, we established team goals and it was nice to see that our group of 5 had similar goals for our time in Romania. Two of our team members, Kristian and Evan, are experienced volunteers for this program and have shared lots of great information about the kids. This particular program has the highest number of repeat volunteers within Global Volunteers (GV). It sounds like once you've met the children your heart melts and you want to come time and time again to see how they are doing. Always with my therapist ears and eyes, I'm thinking of what I can contribute. My goal tomorrow is to sit back and observe. Let's see if I can do that.

Pa Pah (Bye)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Beautiful buildings in Bucharest

This morning Robin and I ventured out into old town for a walking tour of Lipscani - The Little Bucharest. Even with the snow it was very pleasant. I had a few favorites. One was a cafe that we stopped at by chance, actually look at what a sign described as a remonstrate (chewed up) floor. What we discovered was a golden stair case, walls and floor. Literally, it was gold with glass tiles over it. The host gave us a brief tour which included a small wine cellar. It was charming. My pictures of the gold staircase didn't turn out well. Bummer. Robin is a photographer so I'm sure hers look great.

We also visited several churches, the most impressive being the Russian Church. I have included pictures of the inside and outside of this church.

Happy Romanian Valentine s Day

It's Valentine's Day in Romania. We didn't discover this until we came upon a group of people gathered with music playing, and what appeared to be the local media around. The group was trying to gather the most signatures to make the world's largest love note. After we signed the love note we were treated to a Romanian chocolate bar and a parade. Earlier, Robin and I stopped at a cafe to rest during our morning walk (see the next post). I drank a hot chocolate (ciocolata) that was like eating the inside of a lava cake, and Robin had a beautiful mango lemonade!! It was a delight.

Still, as I write this post I can hear them celebrating outside. The gathering is about 1/2 block from the hotel. Here are some pictures of the celebration and the yummy ciocolata that I drank!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Well, I've made it to Romania (almost, as of writing this post). I should say; I'm in Europe. Lufthansa airlines is a very nice airline but their attempt to pretend that it's nighttime to help travelers adjust to the time change did not work for me. So, all I got out of it was one extra meal that I didn't need in a 24 hour period! I had breakfast at midnight (Oklahoma time) but 6:30ish German time. Oh, this time thing is going to be confusing. So here is my plan. It's Thursday, Feb 23, so I'm going to take a short nap at the hotel Rembrandt in Bucharest (I'm here with free wifi and a nice clean room now). Then I'll have dinner with one of my teammates for this little adventure. Friday is wide open. We will probably explore Bucharest and some of the interesting places that Evan, another team member has been to Romania many times as a volunteer, recommended. So it may be an art or history museum. Who knows, but the adventure begins.

One more thing, I spoke with some of you about possible delays in Frankfurt due to strikes. Well, as I was walking through the airport there were hundreds of black cots set up. Not sure if those are always there or if they anticipated delays and cancellations. Either way, it didn't effect me. I hope both sides of the strike are happy with their agreement.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Trying out blogging from my phone.

I picked up most of my last minute items today. My favorite store, Target, had thermals on sale! Woohoo! I also purchased a new carry-on bag. It's a little bright but the one I wanted was gone. I hope I have a plane to take my bag on... There is a strike going on at the Frankfurt airport. I may have to rearrange my flight so I'm not stuck in Germany. Fun, fun. Here's a picture of my new bright bag and Kirby, our dog.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I picked up some Romanian money today.  There is a shape on each bill that is see thru. The bills are interesting and very pretty.  I'm terrible at math so I'm going to struggle with the currency exchange. I'm going to pay way to much for something in Romania, I just know it.  Luckily, in Barlad, there is not a whole lot to purchase, so I've been told.

 It's also VERY cold over there right now so I'm not sure I'll be doing just a whole lot of walking around and shopping.  I discovered a blog from Peace Corp volunteer who is in eastern Romania, near Hungary. She reported lots of snow and very cold temps.  It's suppose to be worse in the western portions of Romania where I'll be!  Brrrrrrrrrr. I shiver, just thinking about it. 

A fun learning Romanian website:

The games on this website are addicting, I'm not sure if I'm actually learning to speak Romanian.  It's fun. 

Here is a picture of the money I received today. I think I will be paying about 75 ron for a taxi ride to my hotel in Bucharest. 


Monday, February 13, 2012

Today begins the countdown for my travels to ROMANIA!  In 9 days,  I  will be going on a wonderful volunteer vacation through Global Volunteers.  If you are looking for a great organization to volunteer with this is the group.  I've been researching and talking to the staff at GV for about a year.  I plan to post updates and pictures here.  I'm just learning about blogging so I'm doing a little pre-trip practicing. 

I thought I'd begin with a beautiful Oklahoma wildflower.  This picture was taken in May 2011 during a weekend birthday celebration for my dear friend, Mis!  Can you name the flower?