1.27.07 0 °F
Thursday, December 21 – Winter Solstice!
Three stops is morning on the way to Tutova – 1) bank with Bernice’s newly working ATM Card, thanks to a phone card that we purchased last night (her bank had seen her first withdrawal at the beginning of the trip and blocked other transactions) 2) Berlin market for yoghurt, chicken and #3 diapers, 3) the stationary store for notebooks on the 4 newest arrivals at the clinic.
Bernice and I plan to spend time on Friday night between packing to update the journals of the individual children that we have spent time with.
Bernice’s 4 had not eaten much of the early bottle, so it would be a long and loud session for her before the noon bottles arrived. Little Paula is still pretty red, but not very complainey. I got the mobiles in to the toddler room and spent a little time with each on the way in. Mirella has become quite a whinger. As soon as any of us go past her door and she is ALWAYS ON THE LOOKOUT, she begins to cry and insists of being the first one held and taken out. That worked earlier with me, but I felt that at times others needed their special time as well. My wish would be that they move all the mobiles into one room so that once you get one, you get them all. With the non-mobiles mixed in, I may be trying to get the other room settled first, but am constantly bombarded by the mobiles. If it were a perfect world!
As I went down the hall with the first mobile, I noticed that all the little walkers did not have their cloth seats as they had been to the laundry. (Very much needed laundry, I might add). This told me that the afternoon session would most likely have to be in the bigger room once the toddlers went with their teacher. In the mobile room this am we only had one major melt down with Mihaela and I put her back in the crib.
I had a good session with Sylvia standing between my legs. She is getting bolder and even making a few steps. I am encouraged that she is on the brink and it will simply take consistency to get her mobile. We learned today the next team arrives in Romania on Saturday and will be with the kids on Christmas Day, next Monday. I will make sure that my diary entry for Sylvia encourages continuation. Marian also did a few walk steps. He was feeling a little fragile (along with the rest of the group as most of them have runny noses and coughs are becoming more prevalent). Maybe tomorrow. I will ask Bernice to come into the Mobile room with me and get pictures with me and each of the guys!
Bernice is feeling a little low herself, so lunch of wonderful warm soup with lots of veggies and oranges was most welcome. As we were heading out for our walk, Dr. Delia was entering the clinic on her rounds. We stayed for a few moments in order for her to tell us some of the backgrounds on the children. Denisa and Larisa (the 2-month old preemie twins) are from a gypsy family with 7 children about 80km from Tutova. Little Denisa has clubfeet and will most likely have to have an operation. Dr. Delia will try to get her to see the specialist in Iasu in January or February. Crina (the 4 month old – that looks a lot more like 6 months to us) has a sister in the clinic in the toddlers and was abandoned by her young mother. Paula the 3 months old that we called Elf, will be tested for genetic conditions after the first of the year. She also was abandoned. I am sure Bernice will follow up on each of these little girls. I told Mihalla (the country manager) that she would need to check Bernice’s luggage as she leaves Tutova on Saturday morning.
Lots of new stuff this afternoon. Ramona, the former translator, arrived with lots of goodies for the staff, toddlers and the clinic. Thanks to her, there is now a wall mounted TV and VCR in the largest playroom that was playing animal videos by the time we left today. The kids were thrilled with the fresh bananas and the staff also received little goodies. The walker’s cloth seats were back and installed so the mobiles could exercise in the hall. As I was moving non-mobile around, I notice an Orthodox priest (with a parka on over his vestments) entering the building. More apples for the toddlers. He met me in the hallway and pushed an icon at my face. I looked at it and Lily said I was to kiss it. Bernice told me after the fact it had happened to her as well and she was not sure what to do so she kissed it. She wasn’t sure if she was supposed to kiss his hand or ring as well. Being a Buddhist, she was afraid she had offended the priest. The staff told her that to kiss the icon was respecting their religion. She was relieved that she had not offended anyone.
Non-mobile room was pretty quiet except for the snuffling noses and the little coughs. I so prefer to be in this room with the music droning and the overhead light off to allow the natural light in through the window. Even though it is cloudy, it gives a nicer light than the fluorescents high above.
Hard to believe but we are low on diapers again. We will make one more stop tomorrow and hope that will last until the next team arrives.
We met Mihalla at the travel agency. I had the perfect finale to today when I found that I had the later fight on Saturday and therefore did not have to leave a day early! YAAAH! We also learned that we would be taken back to Bucharest on Saturday so we don’t have to take the train. I am sorry to miss the train, but am pleased that I don’t have to hassle the taxi from the train station to the airport. THANK YOU ANGELS!!!!!
We went to pick up Gabriella at Myosotis and found that Santa had left a little gift of each of us, lovely Romanian Milk Chocolate. We thanked Gabriella and asked her to pass the message on to Santa for us.
Tonight we had dinner with Helen, her husband Alexandru, sister, Tantsa, Gabriella and Nastasi. It was a wonderful evening full of laughs and good food. Just WAY TOO MUCH FOOD. We even had a special cake with three sparklers and a sip of champagne to celebrate the finale of the team.
One more day with the kids.
Thought for the Day – Spend so much time improving yourself that you have no time left to criticize others. – Creed for Optimists
Friday, December 22
With sleepy eyes and neither of us feeling 100%, we left for Tutova for our last day. It was grey and very cold and I thought I saw the odd snowflake here and there.
We decided to try and catch Dr. Delia first thing as her day tends to accelerate and get away from her. We dropped off a small token of our appreciation from the team and also some donations to be used to help the clinic purchase car seats for transporting the children to the hospital. The traffic laws have changed recently requiring child seats in vehicles. Mihalla said that the law has been in place for a long time, it is just that the seats are so expensive, the police have not insisted or given tickets if there were no seats. Dr. Delia may be feeling the needs for the seats as the children are no her own and are being transported to and from the hospital.
Bernice then went into the room with the four that was blessedly quiet as we entered the building. A first! I got Marian, Mirella and Mihaela in the toddlers’ room but Sylvia was having a bit of a lie in. Bernice joined us with first Larisa, then Denisa and finally Paula and we took picture of each other with our favorites. Sylvia was finally awake and was happy to be removed from her crib.
Sylvia walked today! Not totally on her own, but she was definitely taking steps towards Bernice with me supporting her around the chest. Unfortunately, Mihaela and Marian were at war at the same time, so our exclamations of praise for Sylvia were drowned out by two howling children.
Yoghurt time for three with Bernice working with Marian and I with Mihaela and Mirella. I think Bernice now appreciates how distractible he is as she inadvertently smeared his forehead and ear with yoghurt as he head whirled around.
After our walk, we loaded all the non-mobiles into the room. They had not had a chance to get out at all this am and were anxious for their time. Ramona allowed me to give her the bottle again and it went very smoothly. What a thrill! I spent time with my first lover boy, Samuel who yesterday and today has finally remembered how to smile. He just captures my heart. Bernice helped with Daniel, Andrea and Daniela. Within 15 minutes, Daniela had thrown up her entire bottle onto her chest and rocking chair.
As I diapered the entire herd of mobile and non-mobiles for the last time, I spoke to each of them and asked that they receive the best Christmas present I could imagine - to go home or to be put in a fabulous foster home as soon as possible.
As we left for the last time, we hugged the three staff available and presented them with some yummy cookies to celebrate the holidays. Although we left with sadness, it was wonderful to know that on Monday, the next team of 13 will be visiting and picking up where we left off. With such a large team, more children should be given more individual time. The most wonderful thing about Global Volunteer is the 17 teams a year come to the clinic so that the children never have a week without people who want to hold, kiss, play and love them.
What will we remember most about our time at the Tutova Clinic? Florin and his little-man ways, traffic cop attitude and happy smile and wonderful hugs? The incessant banging of the wooden cribs with toddlers who weren’t being let out fast enough? The dogs that waited at the door any time we exited for goodies and treats? The yummy soups for lunch from P. Giani?
I know that I will always remember the little song in the non-mobile room, Sylvia’s happy screech, Mirella’s insistent wail if she spotted you and you weren’t immediately picking her up, Marian’s impish grin, Mihaela’s shy way of playing with me and her dancing and of course, little Samuel’s raspberries.
Thank you Global Volunteers for your ongoing commitment to making a difference for the children at Tutova.
Thought for the Day – When volunteering and you are not sure where to help, pick an agency and just do something.
Saturday, December 23 – To Bucharest and flight to London
We both had a very quick breakfast and there was some confusion about if we had to pay for breakfast. Because we weren’t sure, Bernice paid.
We loaded into the bus and went to pick up Mihalla for our 5-hour trip to Bucharest. We arrived at the airport at 12:45 for my 3:40 flight on British Airlines to London. There was no indication of which check in desk to use until 1:30. There was a long queue of people using the only line that indicate BA, and another one for AA at the same time. A pair in front of me jumped the queue and went directly to the AA line, which irritated a young Romanian man in front of me. There was an unpleasant conversation between them that left a lot of emotional vomit in the air. I was pleased I was next so I could leave the area soon.
By the time I got to the front, I was concerned about the weight of my luggage. They seemed more concerned with number of bags instead of weight. My ticket was concerning to them as it was an open ticket and did not indicate the specific flight I was on. They had my name in the system, but they had to take my tickets and speak to the supervisor. It only took 15 minutes, but it seemed longer. Finally, no problem and off I went to the gate, having thanked the supervisor who assisted with my ticket. I had my window seat and I was at the gate at 2:40. There was a 30-minute delay due to fog in London. This wasn’t’ too bad considering that the previous three days, London had major delays and cancellations. By boarding time at 4:15, we were still delayed with no plane at the gate. When we finally boarded, we had a completely full flight. After 30 minutes on the tarmac, they told us that that we had engine problems and we should know within 40 minutes if the engineer could fix it. He did and after another 15 more minutes on the tarmac, we were finally in the air at 6:20 for a 3-hour flight. I must say that BA and the pilot in particular were absolutely the best in keeping us advised as to what our status was and when we would know our next information. WELL DONE BA!
We arrived in London at 7:20 local time and finally at the gate at 7:45. As I sat there looking at the airport, I remembered that the last time I was in Britain it was 29.5 years ago. Our bags took a while, so I took the opportunity to change both my Romanian and South African Rand into Pounds. (I had come across a stash of 1100 Rand in one of my bags that I had forgotten to exchange!)
Tired after a long day, I opted for the fastest way to the hotel, a Black taxi. The Premier Travel Inn is one of a chain and is very clean, modern, and very basic. No cute little soaps and stuff, but there was soap and shampoo containers attached to the walls. There will also be no meals on the 25th,
I opted for a pizza for dinner as I didn’t want to go to the restaurant and the bar would be closing soon. The pizza tasted fine, but was undercooked, so I ate all the good stuff off the top. Typical when I have been away from TV too long, I spent way too much time watching telly until the early am hours.