A couple of weeks ago I was able to go back to Romania and visit the group home, Ana’s House. It was such a joy to see the kids again and to reconnect with the house parents and other adults that are vital to the House. I tagged along with Jay, the president of Global Hope, and Jacci, the field director. This trip was packed with appointments and visits because there were pressing matters to attend to.
Jay needed to meet the people involved in this mission and to see firsthand how everything operated. Jacci had business to attend to with the support staff and to check in on some of the children in precarious placements. At one of our first meetings with support staff, Jacci and I learned of some of the challenges that the families were facing and some of the concerning situations that a few of the children were dealing with. We helped to create a plan to address some of the issues, while other issues will take a lot of prayer and careful contemplation to resolve.
The next visit that we made was to a wonderful family that cares for three foster children. They also have their own children. I have to say that the visit to the family was one of the most humbling experiences of my life.
We parked on the street and walked around the corner to the home. All of the homes that I have visited in Romania have been surrounded by tall, solid fences with locked doors. Someone unlocked the large metal door and we walked in to meet the family. We entered a tiny L shaped kitchen and saw a sink and stove to the left. Straight ahead was the smaller part of the L with a table pushed up against a wall. The room was large enough for the table, some chairs and a small refrigerator. They pulled out the table so that we could all sit down. As we all squeezed in around the table, I wondered how they fit a family of six at the table for meals. Directly behind the table was a door to a storage room that could only be opened if a chair was moved out of the way. To the left of the table was a door that led into the boys’ room. There were no hallways. Evidently you had to go outside to reach the other rooms in the house.
The family set out refreshments and the mother began to talk about how the children were doing. The boys are 19 and 22 years old. The older boy works at a pizza place for about a dollar an hour and attends nursing school. The younger one attends high school and also has a job. I was astonished at how she was proudly praising the kids. The foster parents continue to provide support after the kids graduate high school so that they have the opportunity to learn a trade or earn a degree. Through my involvement with Global Hope, I have learned that children who suffer trauma can have significant social and maturation delays; socially they can be as much as half of their chronological age.
After a few minutes, the father came in with a young girl who was one of the most beautiful children that I had ever seen. She had dark eyes, long dark hair and fair skin. Her features were so delicate that she almost looked like an animated china doll. As I listened to the parents talk, it was hard not to steal glances at this beautiful child because hers wasn’t just a physical beauty. She radiated a sweetness and innocence that is hard to put into words. I was sitting close enough to her to notice a round scar upon her cheek. I would later learn that it was a cigar burn. As an infant, she was left in the care of her grandfather who did not want to be bothered. He filled her bottle with brandy and a little milk so that she would be quiet. Severely neglected and abused, she was removed from the home when she was about three.
Later, both parents told of the struggles and triumphs that the boys had experienced while Jacci translated for Jay and I. We were touched at the amount of love, effort and prayers that the parents poured into these children. Many parents would have walked away from some of the challenges they faced.
We work with this organization in the hopes that we can make a small difference in the lives of needy children. I think all of us realized, sitting around the table that afternoon, how small of a contribution we make compared to what these families give. Jay expressed this to the family and how we do the easy part. The mother replied that without our support, they could not do what they do. That is why I will continue to do what I can for Global Hope. They are making a difference.
As we left, Jay asked if he could say a prayer. At that point, I think we were struggling to ‘keep it together’; I know my eyes were brimming with tears. He asked for blessings over the families and we headed back to Ana’s House to get ready for the celebration of the logodna.
Beautiful pain. I was listening to the radio, and a guest speaker was talking about how art and music can be sad but still beautiful. He called it a beautiful pain. I think that sums up what we experienced in Arad; not that pain is beautiful, but that beauty often exists alongside pain.