Introduction placement Romania
In October 2005, the Urgenta Foundation was contacted by Jennie de Weerd, an educational theory student from the NHL University. She requested our help in finding a student placement in Romania. Naturally, we committed ourselves to the task and we managed to arrange a placement at the Children's HIV Clinic Sibiu.
The clinic is affiliated with the Children's Hospital Sibiu.
Jennie is a third year student and the goal of this placement is to put all acquired theoretic knowledge into practice. She left for Romania on January 28th and will return in the beginning of July (probably July 7th). She agreed to provide us with periodical reports about her work, experiences and impressions of Romania.
The first steps in the Children's HIV Clinic Romania
On Sunday January 29th, I had an appointment with Alina Cozac in front of the (big) Boulevard Hotel. She will be my contact person for the next couple of months. She brought me to my apartment and when we arrived, I was a bit shocked by the fact that I had to share "my" apartment with 3 other girls. 32 Square meters, including toilet and shower. No privacy at all, which I'm not accustomed to but I must say: after 3 weeks, I'm seeing the positive side of it. It's kind of cozy to share a small apartment with others!
A few days later, Alina and I went to the Children's Hospital and I was welcomed with open arms just because I'm Dutch! This is all due to the Urgenta Foundation and their past efforts to help the hospital. They showed me what the Urgenta Foundation has accomplished here and I was impressed!
From the Children's Hospital we went straight to the Children's HIV Center, where I will be doing my placement for the next few months. As in the Children's Hospital, I was welcomed warmly, although my blonde hair might have been of some influence as well ! haha...
I stayed all day, introduced myself, met some people and talked about my possibilities of working here. It appeared I couldn't get as much hours as I'd like to. I will be working here for two days a week, on Monday and Thursday. I had to do my best to find something for the remaining days but in the end, I succeeded. I managed to get a placement at the Child Welfare in Medias. That will involve a lot of traveling for me but I'm very satisfied with this result.
Starting my placement
At the HIV clinic, I will start with English lessons and creative therapy. This will give me an opportunity to get close to the children which will make it easier to set up better custom therapy plans.
My English lessons are going very well! All they can say in English is: "I love you". There are English lessons here but it's simply not enough so they don't learn that much. My first English lesson was mainly about England and its customs. The children couldn't locate England on a map (nor the Netherlands). I decided to start each lesson with an English song and the children love it. The first song I'm trying to teach them is "if you're happy and you know it". They didn't know the song so I had to start from scratch. Since they speak hardly any English and never sing, it's a tough job. After 3 lessons an d repeating the song about 50 times, it's getting better and better. I plan to create a nice map to put all the English songs in.
I know, in the Netherlands it's pretty ordinary to have a songbook but here they just have a notebook at their disposal. Even a couple of scissors is an exception. Some differences are astonishing. I try to teach them some other simple stuff like "left" and "right", might come in handy with creative therapy. I'm also planning to give some dance classes. The good thing about teaching English is that I have to learn the Romanian words. Very handy!
I made a game teaching them what's left and what's right. They completely don't understand the fact that the English drive on the left side of the road. How can that be when in Romania, everybody drives on both sides? With this game, they also learned to name a few body parts like hand, leg and ear. I said: right hand, left wink etc. They had to do it. They like this game a lot.
During the lessons, the children told me they were fond of animals so I prepared a Powerpoint slideshow about Zoo animals and pets. They loved it! Just the Powerpoint slideshow itself was enough. They'd never seen that before.
Friday, I did a tinker lesson. I wanted to show them you can do all kinds of very nice things with a very limited budget. You just have to save stuff and don't throw anything away, even if it does seem useless. We made a snowman out of egg boxes which were collected by my friends in Holland. The children had a great time!
HIV-infected children in Romania
Working with HIV-infected children here is quite different than in the Netherlands. In Holland we all know that with the right medication, you can grow old with HIV. In Romania, the medicines are just not at hand which leads to a very careful handling of the patients. Temperature is always kept at 25 degrees Celsius, against possible colds. Pneumonia can be fatal for these children. The children aren't allowed to have any contact with other children of the hospital, they might catch a disease. I have to wash my hands every 5 minutes and I'm not allowed to touch my eyes or nose. I'm not quite sure it's to protect the children or myself. Maybe both.