December 2019 Update
A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all RICF’s supporters around the world. Thank you so much for your love and generosity and for believing in what we are doing to help vulnerable children and families in Romania. Without you none of our work would be possible.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of a six month review meeting with Ovidiu, Simona and Emilia, our core HQ team in Bucharest. Ovidiu, who comes from a social work background, is our director; Simona is a psychologist by training, and heads up our abandonment prevention project; and Emilia is a social worker and takes a lead in our foster placement project ‘A Family for me’.
Wherever possible the RICF board members try to do this review in person in Bucharest, but occasionally it takes place by Skype, as was the case this time. Not quite the same, especially as the team didn’t have a functioning webcam this time, but it was great to hear their voices and catch up on news, and to have a brief opportunity to pray together. Much of our correspondence about our various projects and their participants is in writing, so hearing the team chatting about the various different young people and families we are supporting, and the successes and setbacks they are facing really brings the written information to life.
It has been a busy time in Bucharest with all the Christmas preparations. The day before I spoke to the team, they had welcomed the mums and babies in our abandonment prevention project to the HQ for a Christmas meeting and celebration, and to distribute Christmas gifts and treats. And our meeting on Thursday was followed straight afterwards by the foster carers’ meeting at the HQ, where they would be catching up with each other before Christmas and also receiving specially donated Christmas gifts.
Don Sappington from Remember Nhu with Emilia, Simona, and some of the mums and babies supported by RICF
This month one of our young people who has been supported in a foster placement with Silica and her family since she was eight years old graduates from her formal foster placement as she turns 18. I remember visiting the family in the very early days when they had just set up her bedroom for her to be as welcoming as possible, and seeing the bond between her and the family grow over the months and years, and nurturing and caring for her through the highs and lows of adolescence. We are so grateful to Silica for the love and affection she has invested in this young woman, and we wish them both well in their new ventures. Emilia has been meeting up regularly with the young woman to ensure she is prepared for adulthood, and has been impressed by her increasing maturity and understanding.
We have been keeping in touch with Don Sappington from Remember Nhu following his visit to Bucharest this August, and discussing possible plans for future visits by Remember Nhu and its partners to encourage and support our team. We are grateful to Remember Nhu, and to all our donors in the UK and around the world, whether individuals or organisations, who entrust resources to us to make our work possible.
'A Family for Me' Foster care project
We are delighted that for several of our young people as they have turned 18 and completed long term foster placements supported by RICF, the bond between them and their foster family has been so strong that they have decided to make their futures very much as part of the family unit. In some cases this has meant that they stay living within the family home, but start contributing towards household expenses as they start to earn a living. In other cases the young people have gone elsewhere to find work, and are living independently but staying in touch with their foster family.
In cases where the young person is completing school we have extended the foster placement to allow them to do this. This is particularly important where the young person has missed out on years of schooling earlier on in life due to time on the streets or in emergency accommodation, and so may be 2 or 3 years behind their peers. However, where a young person has decided not to complete school but to seek paid employment after they turn 18, then RICF stops financial support in order to focus its resources on vulnerable children.
Abandonment prevention project
We continue to support 13 babies and toddlers with 12 mums in this project. (There is currently one set of twins enrolled.) The children are currently aged from about 4 months through to 17 months. So far we have now supported 91 mum and baby pairs through this project since we started it 10 years ago as a response to the high rate of child abandonment in the local maternity hospital.
Over the last few months we asked the team to think about how they could best mark each mum and baby's graduation from the project once they complete their 12 months of support. We wanted it to be something that would be celebrated by the whole group, to give a regular reminder of what the mums are working towards through this project. The team decided on an 'exit package from the project’, which contains:
A certificate to show their completion of the RICF parenting skills course
A personalised greetings card with a group photograph and signatures and well wishes from their colleagues in the group
We look forward to hearing how the team get on as the next mum and baby graduate from their 12 months in the group next month.
Hopes for another IT education project
One small setback this autumn was that our team applied for a small grant to enable us to run another IT education course, as this had been so successful in the past in upskilling our foster carers and young people. Unfortunately our project was not among the finalists selected so we are not able to run this project again just now. We are looking out for other funding opportunities so we can run the course in 2020.
Thanks to all our supporters
A big thank you to all of our supporters around the world, many of whom give regularly and sacrificially to allow our projects to continue. We are seeing real changes in the lives of vulnerable young people and families and are so grateful to you for allowing us the privilege of being part of this.
Suzie Marsden, 20/12/2019