For QU junior, not your average Euro-trip

By on September 12, 2007

EDITORS NOTE : Staff writer Elyse Kusse spent a week in Romania working at a camp for orphans. This is her story.

A face filled with sorrow lights up the dark cabin. As I enter I am immediately thrown back to the beginning of it all, the first time I saw that child’s face, still sad but filled with hope. And now, that all has left him. The boy sits back against the wall, head down, hoping to be left alone or maybe hoping that someone will see him. I know that the look on his face is enough to break the hardest of hearts, yet he carries it strongly. A boy all grown up at the age of 13.

Vasy is just one of many Romanian children who are forced to become the head of their family at such a young age and his story, like those of the other children I met is a continuous uphill climb.

Iabalcea is not more than two or three kilometers long. It boasts intricately decorated exteriors and modestly hides the courtyard inside full of farm animals. The cows really do come home every evening at seven, bells jingle in the quiet summer air signaling the end of another work day. As I watched the movement of the village and its people, I recognized a quiet peace inside that could only be found when I stepped outside the only life I have ever known. I stumbled upon the notion that lazily watching the night sky turn from a hazy shade of peach to a luminous navy blue can be far more rewarding than any amount of time spent in front of the television. The people of Iabalcea do not have televisions, electricity or running water.

Abandoned communes are just down the road, and beer is 20 minutes away. For two weeks every summer, the village plays host to a modest summer camp that works to bring happiness, love and some well needed guidance to a small house of orphaned children.

Tucked away in Eastern Europe, Romania is a third world country unbeknownst to most of the modern world. When given the opportunity to visit this remote country I did not know what to expect, and I discovered that not knowing was perhaps the best preparation I could have hoped for.

The constant news that swamps the media about children all over the globe desperately needing help, fails to include the more than 40,000 children in Romania who are living in orphanages. Fuhermore, that number does not even take into account the children who never make it as far as front door of an orphanage.

Currently, the multitude of abandoned children in Romania vastly outnumbers the amount of families equipped to take those children in. The problem is so critical that many children ultimately end up back on the streets.

Romania’s recent entrance in the European Union made it nearly impossible for children to be adopted from families outside of the country, causing the number of adopted children to plummet. The facts are staggering and the week I spent making connections with children, who otherwise would have no one, meant more to me than anything I have ever done in my life. While they may not have known, these children, their smiles, laughter and ability to carry on has given me direction.

In Romania I was fortunate enough to discover delightful kids who wanted little more than to hold my hand and spend time with me. There is nothing like knowing that when you wake up there is a child just bursting to talk to you, even if it is in a foreign language.


About Elyse Kusse