December 21, 2003

Report from Romania

We are deep into our Christmas action here in Sibiu, Transylvania, Romania. As we have for the past 6 years we again have Santa and a helper out on the streets in 3 places in the town, We ask those who have means to help those who have not. People help with money, clothes and other items. Santa and his helper, at each stand, are members of the families who we assist. At the same time at our Social Service Center we are supplying 400 families with basic foods, with clothes and other items. The social workers have visited all of thes families in the weeks before the beginning of the action, and gave them dates and times to come to the Center for these items. In the mean time members of our Women's Program are busy making many items which will be for sale on Monday, December 15th at the Bouavard Hotel in the center of town, and a group of espcially trained children, from our assisted families, are busy going to various places in town(mayor's office, county counsel, businesses children;s homes, and homes for elderly, singing Christmas carols and doing it very well.

On the 17th we willl have our annual Christmas party for several hundred children with gifts, goodies, games, singing and Santa.

How are things in Romania generally? Less and less children are in orphanages, some are now in foster homes, some in what is now called ''holding centers"(smaller homes and much more cheerful then the old large orphanages,) and with better care and attention, There are many Non-profit organization who operate centers, and many other types of services, as well as the Government Child Protection Services in each county. Many of these non-profits were started by persons from Western countries, a large group by individuals from the US. However, there are still many, many problems for many, many children, and larger numbers are on the streets, espcially in the capital ciry, Bucuresti.

Romania now has a Foster Care system. and in -country adoptions are being encouraged by the government. However, it is a slow process as the concept generally is a new one here, and few people can afford to adopt. International adoptions have been stopped now for near to 3 years because of corruption in the system. It is probably a necessary ruling, but one wonders sometimes if it is not the children who are the ones really most hurt by it, Studies show that children's chance of adapting normally to a family life decrease with age. Later then 6 or 7 years of age give almost no chance that children will adapt normally to a family life- There are many hundreds here now at that age or older.

As for Arapamesu and our work here the work goes well. We have a good staff of Romanians, now well trained and positive in their approach and actions, and showing great concern for those they serve.

Our major problem at present, as with many non-profits. is money. It is much harder to come by, and we keep praying to continue all our programs, and be able to continue to help these families keep their children with in the families and not give them to institutions, or lose them to the streets.

We count on your prayers, and other assistance in this work.

May you have a happy holiday season and the new year be a very good one.

Peace, and Prayers,

Sister Mary Rose Christy

Sister of Mercy
Str. Selarilor 7
2400 Sibiu, Romania
phone 40-0269-217-528

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