Please enjoy more from my blog from a recent trip to some of our partners in Romania.
Here we are in Romania. We landed in Cluj Napoca on Sunday evening to a round of applause from the other passengers on the flight! Not sure if that happens on every flight but it certainly made us laugh as we started our exploration of Romania and our work here.
We are staying in the city of Cluj. We hired a car at the airport and followed Balazs Csiszer (who heads up the work of Blythswood Care in Romania). I was amazed at the amount of dogs everywhere that looked so poorly and were clearly strays. However, driving through Cluj didn’t look that different to cities back in the UK - lots of restaurants, bars and no obvious sign of a country in need. Clearly when visiting a destination for the first time it is easy to digest the first impressions and make a judgement based on these, but we found in Romania’s case that this could not be further from the truth.
We stayed in Cluj on our first day visiting a project called ‘Koinonia Publishing’ House. This was founded by a former minister in the Hungarian Reformed Church called Ferenc Visky. He was to be imprisoned for 22 years under the former communist regime along with his wife and 7 children (who were sent to a separate camp) but after 7 years the entire family were released. After the Communist regime fell in 1989, Visky was one of the people involved in the founding of Koinonia Publishing. We work closely with Koinonia in their publishing. They also have a Bible School that meets in the first floor of the building and a Christian outreach café right in the heart of Cluj.
We visited The Daniel Centre in Cluj which helps young men who have grown up in state care to fulfil their potential through education. They learn basic life skills to help them look after themselves and progress in their lives. I met with the young men at one of their weekly group sessions led by a social worker. Despite my Romanian being pretty much non-existent and the young men’s English not that great we managed to communicate and some even shared their stories.
Gheorghe was abandoned by his mother in the hospital where he was born and went straight into state care. After leaving state care when he became an adult he came to The Daniel Centre. For the first time in his life people were actually interested in him and wanted to help him. He developed a passion for food and after training is now a chef in a 5 star restaurant overseeing a team of 6 other chefs. With the help of The Daniel Centre he made contact with his mother, who is from the Gypsy community and his 5 brothers and 5 sisters who he had never met. Amazingly he delivered shoeboxes to his own mother and siblings during a Shoe Box Appeal and he said that it felt good to be able to provide them with what they needed. Amazing stories of transformation that can only happen because of your incredible support.
Look out for my next blog, ‘Romania Uncovered – Part 3’ as I visit more of our partners and understand more about the needs in Romania.