Saturday, September 08, 2007

Visiting the Orphanage

First, a quick travel update:

Hello everyone! Just wanted to let you know that both of my "girls" made it home. According to Dana ,the flights were on time, and with the exception of the luggage transfer through customs at Dulles (apparently a good workout for the girls due to the lack of carts), it was a good travel day.

Steve's Orphanage Visit
So, the missionaries at Stepping Forward felt bad for me being alone after reading one of my desperate emails, ha ha ha. Cami Mather and Scott DeWeerd decided it was about time I visited the orphanage where the kids they take to the summer camp actually live. They picked me up near the Titan Metro at 10:00 this morning and we headed out to towards the edge of Bucharest. This area is definitely what you would call the "low rent" district. Many of the streets here are not paved, except for some recycled asphalt they dump out as gravel in the worst places. Many of the dwellings including large apartment blocs do not have basic services like indoor plumbing.

As soon as we pulled in to the facility, the kids came running out and were ALL OVER Scott and Cami. You can definitely tell immediately how starved they are for attention. I brought my camera and as soon as I took the first picture, they were all over me too. Every one of them wanted a picture. Mostly they wanted pictures of themselves alone, but it did get ugly when one kid would want a picture with this friend and NOT that friend. I'm glad I brought an extra set of batteries, because this went on throughout the entire visit.

After the lengthy greeting process outside, we went in to do a craft project with the kids. Cami had brought some stuff to make sock puppets. When I wasn't taking pictures, I was put in charge of holding the glue. Cami and Scott make the decision (a really good one) not to give out the glue bottles. I also had a chance help a small child (who was mute - picture on the right) make his puppet. Steve Mather (Cami's husband) showed up during the project. This was great, since we were overwhelmed and needed an extra hand (or 10). The only problem was that Steve shares my first name and as soon as he showed up the constant call of "Steve, Steve, Steve!" was out-of-control. The craft project, for some kids, went pretty well but it was total chaos in the room. A few of the smaller kids had their socks stolen since these cheap socks were better than what many of them had in their limited wardrobes.In this orphanage, there are about 80 kids and there are about 30 other similar places in Bucharest holding a few thousand kids total. According to Steve Mather, the bulk of Romania's (50,000+ range - estimates vary) orphan population is outside of Bucharest where the cost of keeping them is less. Most of the children here at his location are in the 10-14 age range with a few younger and a few older. One of the saddest things to me is that some of these kids actually have parents. Their parents just don't want them and turn them over to the state-run orphanage system. Some kids will run away from the orphanage only to return a few days later when they realize they weren't wanted back at home. Many of the kids are also "Roma" people (gypsy) and their chances of adoption here in Romania are slim. International adoptions have been banned in Romania since about 2001 due to concerns about human trafficking (some of those concerns were justified), but this has kept many more children from finding adoptive parents.After the crafts were done, the goodbyes took as long as the greetings. Even though the missionaries will be back next week, you would think they were leaving for good. Kids were literally hanging on the car as we pulled away.
If you want to find out more about this important ministry (to come here and help, or donate, or pray), you can go here to the Stepping Forward website. Cami & Steve and Scott & Noemi are really doing some great stuff here and can always use more help. As I was reflecting about the Stepping Forward ministry, this quote came to mind.....

Matthew 25 verses 35-40
Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

That's all for now. I may go back to the orphanage next week. I just might post again, but I won't be bringing the camera!