Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Day 21

Before I talk about the last day, I must say that I forgot a very important narration a couple days ago. I don’t remember which day it was, but Amy J. was holding Maria and shaking a rattle-ball in front of her, and all of a sudden, we hear a tiny cooing noise. Maria was giggling! It was very faint, and we didn’t know if it was because of Amy’s actions with the rattle or because Maria had gas (but she hadn’t done that before, just from gas!) but it was enough for all the volunteers in the room to shut up just so we could hear it.

Now, onto the last day. We went back to the clinic early after lunch, so that week could have a birthday party for Alexandra, whose 7th birthday was Sunday the 16th. The party was attended by the clinic staff, the volunteers, Mihaela, Delia, Sami, Daniela, Ema-Elena, and Lea-Celine. Dr. Delia also made a brief appearance, to thank us for our help.

For her special day, Alexandra was dressed in a pretty yellow dress, pink socks, and black shoes. She was even wearing Pampers instead of a cloth diaper—-what a treat!
When we sang Happy Birthday to Alex, she actually reached her hand out towards the cake…and stuck her finger in the candle flame. Susan immediately grabbed her hand back, but the flame didn’t even phase Alex. After the song, Susan and an aide tried to get Alex to take a bite of cake, but she didn’t care for it.

After the party, we went to see if any of the other kids had woken up, and we took them into the playrooms to wait for bottle time. Most of the kids were cranky; since we had come back early, they hadn’t really had enough time to get into a deep sleep, so their schedules were thrown off. Ema-Elena, in particular, was quite unhappy, and she only calmed down when I carried her and walked with her up and down the hallway.

Trevor and Delta went back to the hotel a little early, since they still needed to pack and intended to go back to the clinic after dinner for goodbyes. Since I was already halfway finished with my packing, I stayed to help with 6:00 bottles, and when we came back for dinner, we were joined by Mihaela. Our dinner conversation consisted of final recollections of our experience in Romania and our feelings about it. Afterwards, we said our goodbyes to Mihaela, and I returned with Trevor and Delta to the clinic.

When we arrived, I heard a few kids crying, but one was louder than the others. I followed the sound to the nonmobile playroom and found Gabriela all alone, screaming in her bouncy seat. I immediately picked her up and cuddled with her for a while, walking around the room and up and down the hallway. Then I put her in the jumperoo, and she was quite content, especially when Trevor came in to hang out with her.

I knew that I couldn’t take all of the kids out for individual goodbyes without causing a ruckus, so I went into the big kids’ bedroom and snatched up Big Andreea. Her cribsheet was soaked with sweat, as was her shirt, so I changed her shirt and her sheet, then went into the nonmobile playroom and sat with her on the floor. I didn’t start crying until I started cuddling her for the last time, and then I really let loose.

It felt like it was too soon when I put Andreea back in her crib. I gave her a bunch of kisses before pulling the side of the crib up, and then I proceeded to say my goodbyes to the rest of the kids. Thankfully, the big kids didn’t put up much of a fuss-—even Maiastra didn’t whine or reach for me to pick her up when I gave her a kiss.

I went to all the other rooms to give the kids kisses—some of them were asleep, so I made sure not to wake them. Ionela was the only one who really got upset when I didn’t pick her up, but she calmed down shortly after I left the room.

I’m not sure if I realized how hard it would be to say goodbye. I think I knew rationally, but that still didn’t prepare me for it. I’m glad Delta was there, willing to play “surrogate mom” and let me cry on her even while she had a rough time saying goodbye to Daniela.

It started raining right before we left the clinic, of course, and it got progressively worse as we continued on our way to the hotel. We were pretty soaked by the time we got in.

As hard as it was to leave, I was able to content myself with the thought that the next group of volunteers will love these kids as much as we have, as well as the hope that I’ll be able to return next year.

Gabriela: "No pictures, please!"
I adore this picture.
Lea-Celine, pulling herself up at the fence. If she didn't have those braces on her feet, she'd be up and running around with the others.
Ion...I don't know why, I just love this look on his face.
Big Andreea & Nicoletta
Little Andreea
She's so photogenic.
Ana-Maria & her aide, Coca
Ema-Elena, taking a morning nap
Big Andreea, lifting her head!
Alexandra, sitting on her "throne."
Delia & Sami

Me & Maiastra
Trevor & Maiastra

Sleeping pics:
Little Andreea
Gabriela, SO CLOSE to getting herself into a sitting position. I think she realized it, though, and she gave up.
Lea-Celine & me
Sami, in another of his awesome poses
Alexandra, throwing her birthday hat away
Where's Daniela?!
Big Andreea in the jumperoo

Happy Birthday, Alexandra! Watch very closely at the beginning, you'll see her poking the candle.

Watch Ion try to pick up his keys with his toes.

This might be the end of this blog. Or I might return to post any other little thoughts I have relating to my trip. We’ll see.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Day 20

It was weird to go to the clinic this morning and not see Alina and Andrei. Hopefully we will receive updates on both of them when they return to Tutova.

I forgot to mention in an earlier entry this week that I was blessed by a priest. There was an Orthodox priest (is that what they call them?) walking through the clinic one day this week, blessing the staff members, volunteers, and children he ran across. I happened to be stepping out of the playroom with a baby (I think it was little Andreea) as he walked by, and I kind of expected him to give her a little blessing. Imagine my surprise when he touched the cross to my head, as well! We later saw him from the hotel patio, going from house to house.

I also forgot to mention yesterday that we had a few visitors: three elderly women, patients at the hospital, came to the fence around the playground to observe the children. Ionela, ever the attention seeker, had to go up to the fence to talk to them, and who knows? Maybe they could understand her babbling, because we sure couldn’t! It was a nice visit, and the ladies left with smiles on their faces.

Today Alexandra had another beautiful moment with one of the other children. While we were outside, she was sitting near Amy J., who was holding Maria. All of a sudden, Alexandra reached out to pet Maria’s foot, with a small smile on her face. It warms my heart every time she does something like that.

This evening, we went to Barlad for our usual Tuesday/Thursday outing…although tonight was quite UN-usual! Our first stop was the Penny Market, where Susan was going to have a short visit with Ioana, a little girl she worked with as a volunteer a few years ago. Ioana is a beautiful little girl and seems to be doing very well in her foster home. She also still plays with some of the other kids whom she had known at the Tutova clinic (who have also been placed in foster homes). It was great to watch the joy on Susan’s face as she talked to Ioana. I can imagine how wonderful the experience was for her.

Dinner was at Mihaela’s apartment. It was a tight squeeze, with eleven of us (plus Delia), but we made it work! Mihaela’s mother made a delicious meal. After we grazed a bit on grapes and plums, Mihaela brought out two platters of homemade meatballs and sliced tomatoes. Every other time on this trip that we’ve had meatballs, I haven’t liked them, so I was a bit hesitant. Well, I tried one tonight…and then I ate four or five more. They were amazing! I would have had more, but when asked if we wanted more, everyone else said, “no, we’re fine” so I went with the crowd.

And it’s a good thing I did. There was a second course after that! Two whole chickens with yummy seasoning, surrounded by (and stuffed with) vegetables. I grabbed myself some chicken breast, potatoes, and cooked carrots (the best cooked carrots I’ve ever had). It was a great meal…and then the dessert came out. It came from a bakery, and it had frosting/pudding type stuff in the middle layers, with little pineapple chunks, and grapes on top! (It looked like a grape had been swiped from the top of the cake…I wonder who the six-year-old culprit could be.)

No pictures from Thursday; the batteries in my camera died.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Day 19 Pictures

Ema-Elena in her pink sweater
Last picture of Alina and me
Amy J. and Marius
Last picture of Andrei and me
Andrei and Alina in the car, going to the hospital
Susan tried to help me take a group picture, to use as my thank-you photo postcards when I get home.
This ended up being the best one.
Ion trying to get into Mihaela's purse
Little Mihaela
Trevor lifting Mihaela up to touch the leaves on the trees
Little Andreea
Sami, playing in the sand
Mihaela, scaling the fence
Alexandra, reading a book