Author: <span>Nightingales Children's Project</span>

23 Sep

Nightingales working through the global pandemic

Since March 2020 Nightingales like the rest of the world has been feeling the effects of the global pandemic and the restrictions placed by the Romanian authorities on Romanian citizens to help combat the spread of the virus. You can read our earlier blog post to see our initial response to the Covid-19 crisis, https://nightingaleschildrensproject.co.uk/2020/05/06/our-response-to-covid-19/

Since May we have been functioning in a ‘new normal’, this has meant new guidelines have been drawn up and they way we run acitivities has had to change. Normally in the summer Nightingales is buzzing with activity, volunteers, groups visiting and hundreds of young people and children from Cernavoda enjoying the range of activities that are on offer. This summer it is was eerily quiet at Nightingales with very few activities going on. This was sad to see, but also a positive in some ways for the beneficiaries who are supported by Nightingales. They got to participate in activities more specifically designed for their needs, in adherence to local and national legislation regarding Covid-19.

The older girls in the scheme took over the role of volunteers, weekly running activities for the younger girls; teaching them about hygiene, cooking, team work and many other lifeskills. It was fantastic to see the older girls develop and grow into these roles, with the activities becoming more focused and well run as the summer went on. The younger girls enjoyed and looked forward to these sessions. During the summer the girls were helped, supported and sometimes pushed into reading their way through the library housed in the coffee shop. This meant that the girls have hit the ground running in the new school year, they have all improved and progressed in their reading, writing and basic arithmetic. One of the girls who has been struggling for three years to remember her alphabet and to read basic sounds, is now reading full sentences.

The differently abled adults who live in the Nightingales house have not been able to go on their annual holiday, something they always look forward too, or enjoy the range of activities with the volunteer groups that come to Nightingales. We have had to change and adapt their programme to make sure that they have a variety of activities to help aid their mental health and well being. This has meant that we have been going a greater number of afternoon outings  in the local area, but, away from crowded places and they have been helping out with various construction projects that we have had at the house. Although these projects have taken longer than normal, the sense of acommplishment for these young people has been huge. They do miss the volunteers and other days away to more crowded places, but they have been enjoying the new range of acitivites.

The young men from the football team saw their season end in March having only played half their games and our usual summer training camp unfortunately had to be cancelled just as the 2020-21 season itself looks in danger of being cancelled. The young men although sad about their lack of game time have taken this opportunity to spend their summers working, earning money. A few of them due to the prospect of not playing any football have also applied for jobs overseas and are working in England, Germany and France. This is a huge positive as they are learning new skills and also gaining valuable work experience.

As you can see this has been a time of change at Nightingales, we have also been able to spend time working with the leadership team in Romania and the trustees in the UK, via Zoom, to work out a plan of how we can move forward financially in the next few years, which we predict will be hard for so many people. We have made the decision to keep offering the same opportunities to the young people in our care whilst making investments short term to reduce the amount of money we are spending long-term on a monthly basis. Inspite of all these changes we will continue to aim to offer a high level of care to all our beneficiaries.

30 Jul

‘Virtual’ Overland to Romania – my fundraising

by Michael Woods

I first went to Nightingales in 2016 volunteering for Stand International, on that first trip the people and the place stole my heart. It wasn’t my first time in Romania, I had volunteered before in Oradea, also with Stand International at another project. The smiles of the young people, the energy of Adriana and Turkian, chatting to Baba will be moments that I always cherish. One special memory I will always have is being able to share my wedding with them in September 2019, my wife and I had a blessing in Romania a month after we were married in Scotland.

When I heard about the ‘virtual’ overland to Romania, I knew I wanted to get involved. I work with disadvantaged people in Scotland with Street Soccer and have seen the negative effect of not being able to exercise during the lockdown. The coaches that I work with Ross and Jamie have been walking and cycling together and with our service users to help combat the mental health issues that people have been struggling with.

On Saturday 25th July, Ross, Jamie and I decided to climb Ben Lomond (974 m / 3196 ft) which is one of the most illustrious mountains in Scotland thanks to it’s proximity to Glasgow and it’s title of ‘Scotland’s most southerly Munro‘. On a clear day you will be rewarded with fine views of Loch Lomond and across the Scottish Highlands. Sadly we didn’t have any of that fine Scottish weather, the weather and climb almost broke us, but the thought of doing it for Nightingales got us up and down.

If you would like to support me please click on the following link for my fundraising page and help  hit my target, and help Nightingales hit their target of buying a new central heating system and covering the large heating costs for their cold winters, even colder than Scotland!

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MichaelWoods28

If you would like to get involved and add some miles to the total as an indvidual or with your family and friends then please click on the following link and see how you can get involved.

02 Jun

How people in America can easily support Nightingales in Romania

We are happy to announce that our friends and supporters in America can now far more easily support the work that Nightingales is doing here in Romania. Through our friends at the organisation Good Bureau, a non-profit run by an American, Ryan Crozier, from Bucuresti, that, supports Romanian organisations and local leaders to effect change in the communities that they are in. We can now receive sponsorship and donations from our friends in America, through an American based platform, ‘Mighty Cause’. The platform is very easy to use and does not cost Nightingales anything in fees for people to make the donation. The money is then transferred for no cost to Romania. The link is https://www.mightycause.com/story/Nightingales

The money raised from this site will allow Nightingales to continue to provide the care the beneficiaries in our programmes need and deserve. So that you will be able to see where your money raised each month will go, we have a breakdown of how the money will be spent. We are also aware that at this time people have been hit hard by effects of Covid-19, and we too have been feeling the effects, whilst continuing to provide the best possible care and opportunities for the young people in our care.

How the donations will be used:

$5 – Provides a hot meal a day for the young people using the day centre, between 3 and 8 people.

$10 – Supports one of the young men at risk to be in an apprentice scheme learning practical skills which will lead to employment.

$20 – Provides heating for 12 days in the winter for the house where our disabled adults live. In the winter temperatures can drop as low as -18 degrees Celsius.

$50 – Sponsors one of the girls at risk a month, providing them with homework help, mentoring, involvement in a social enterprise and also an allowance of $36, which helps provide their family with a much needed income.

$100 – Helps provide an awards ceremony for local schools to honour and support the children who are not honour students but are working hard to do their best, helping to highlight those students who struggle with dyslexia and ADHA.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and if you would like more information about the projects that Nightingales run and how you be involved and how to partner with us, then please do not hesitate to contact us on nightingalesromania@gmail.com

06 May

Our Response to Covid-19

As you can imagine we are, as is everyone, trying to react and come to terms with the pandemic of COVID-19. In Romania, those dying as a result of the virus are not as many as in places like, UK, Spain, Italy and the USA, partly because of the tough action the government has taken to combat the spread of the disease.

At Nightingales, due to the coronavirus, we have been ordered to close the coffee shop, which we did the week before the government directives were put in place, to protect our staff and the people using the coffee shop. The project for young women at risk and the young men we mentor is now in operation online as we are unable to meet with them physically. We are, however, able to communicate daily on the phone to check that they are ok. Our key workers have also been able to use What’s App, Messenger and Zoom to be able to speak with them, to check that they and their families are doing well, and to help with any problems that are causing them concern during this difficult time. It is hard not to be able to actually see them as for some this time at home is hard and has thrown up a lot of new challenges that they have to try and overcome. Sadly, not all our beneficiaries have access to the internet so it has been much harder for them to be part of any group activities. With six of the girls, and a number of the boys, we are also able to deliver weekly food parcels to them and their families. These are families which do not have the ability during this time to work and therefore have no income to support their families. Along with these food parcels we are able to give them parcels of activities to complete at home with their siblings to help pass the time.

The disabled adults living in Cernavoda are the group struggling the most during this period; the changes in their schedules have caused some problems. We have been able to give them a wide range of activities to do at the house both inside and out. We have to make sure these young adults are protected and make sure that they are safe during this time, so we have to keep them isolated from close interactions with people outside their home, though they are struggling to understand this. The young people living independently are all well, self-isolating. We are providing them with their shopping on a weekly basis so that they do not have to leave the house, which if they do without the right documentation they can be fined on the spot. By doing this we are also helping to protect them against the virus.

Looking further ahead into 2020, we are unsure when the restrictions will be lifted by the Romanian government. This means that many groups of volunteers from Scotland, England and America have had to cancel their trips to come and support the work that we are doing in Cernavoda, although this is sad, the priority is making sure that everyone is safe and that the guidelines from different governing authorities are being respected. This is unfortunate for our beneficiaries who look forward to these visits and also gain greatly from them. We will be focusing our efforts on how we can best use this time to make sure that the good work that the groups of volunteers provide is not lost.

We are sure that 2020 will be a year that we will never forget, a year that will change us all. It will help us as a charity to make sure that we are supporting our beneficiaries in the long term in the best possible ways, to make sure that the work that we are doing has the greatest positive impact in the years ahead.

27 Jan

The Nightingales Library

In the coffee shop Nightingales ran a 3 month season of reading with children. The children and the parents of the town loved the sessions. The children would hear stories, read stories and talk about the stories that they had read. Due to the success of these sessions, Nightingales decided to turn one of the rooms into a children’s library. A place where children, parents and schools can come and enjoy reading. A place where reading can be cool and fun.  The library is aimed for children between the age of 0-11 years old.

For Cernavoda, where many young people who drop out of school due to illiteracy, one of the aims of the library is to help combat this. The local schools have started using the facility, bringing reading groups and who get a chance to read books which are fun and attractive to look at. The students also get to use the playground in the main hall, which is a fun 3 storey climbing centre and trampoline. The library supports the schools in their aim to get all children literate by the time they are 11 years old. This helps to reduce the number of pupils of leave school between classes 5 and 8.

This library has only been possible due to the generosity of Dauntsey’s School, the Duggins family and also the foundation Good Bureau from Bucharest. If you would like to get involved in supporting this project then we are looking for people to sponsor their favourite book so that we are able to have it in Romanian in the library.

27 Jan

A trip to Street Soccer Scotland – Summer 2019

This summer I achieved one of my dreams of going to Scotland. Twelve of the team had the chance to go and spend two weeks in Scotland with two organisations, (Stand International and Street Soccer Scotland). We had a fantastic experience, we saw Cluj play Celtic in a Champions league game. It was an amazing atmosphere, the whole stadium vibrated when Celtic scored a goal. Cluj won the game in the last few minutes.

Each day we went to Street Soccer and learnt how to run a football tournament for the local community, we each had different roles, some of the boys were more involved than others! Stefan, who broke his leg in our first game even though he was on crutches, played a huge part. Each week we had 2 or 3 football matches with various teams, each team treated us with great respect and friendship.

It was an experience I will never forget going to Scotland and seeing so many places, people and also having the chance to support Street Soccer and the work that they are doing. We made some great friends, thank you to everyone at Street Soccer Scotland for making us feel so at home and so welcome.

23 Jan

An overview of 2019

Thank you very much for your support of Nightingales Children’s Project in 2019, without people such as yourselves we are unable to offer the opportunities to the young people in our care.

We have had a year with many highlights and some low points:

The young men from the football team, on the pitch have not had the results they would have wished for but we now have a large percentage of them in full-time education and employment. This means these young men are working hard to becoming positive members of Cernavoda and Constanta. Twelve of them had the opportunity to go to Scotland to participate in a course run by Street Soccer for 12 days. It was an experience they will never forget, and a fantastic time for us to invest in them as people. 

The young people with learning disabilities have had their bathroom and kitchen renovated thanks to a huge team effort of a number of volunteers putting in some amazing work there, and thanks also to the generosity of Stand International and Dauntsey’s School. These young adults continue to enjoy working at the charity, spending time hanging out with the young people that come to the day centre, whilst being the most amazing team of cleaners.

The girls in the mentoring scheme have enjoyed a good year, they have worked hard. One of the girls has graduated High School and is in full time employment, all of the girls passed their year at school. One of the original six girls from the scheme had a baby and got married. The social enterprise the girls run has expanded from candles to greeting cards to Christmas tree decorations. This has helped them earn money and learn new skills.

The coffee shop continues to be a great source of employment for the girls in the mentoring scheme, at present 5 girls are employed there. They are learning useful skills of how to excel in the workplace that will help when they gain full-time employment once they finish school. It continues to offer a great service to the local community, a holiday camp in the summer run by Dauntsey’s School for over 150 people from Cernavoda, each Friday an arts and crafts session provides fun activities for the local community and through a partnership with a local school we sponsor 3 places each week for those who have done well at school that week. In November we opened a children’s library, a space where families and schools can come and help get children and young people enthusiastic about reading. Whilst still being the number one place for parents to spend time actively playing with their children and celebrating their children’s birthdays.

In the last month we have also started supporting a local initiative that has seen people donate goods, clothes and toys which are still in good condition so that they can be sorted and shared amongst the poorest members of society in Cernavoda and in the surrounding villages. It has been great to see the response from the town, and also how people have been interested in volunteering and supporting those who need help. We hope in 2020 that we are able to work together with the people involved that the help and support becomes effective long-term and reaches the people that need it the most. 

These are just a few highlights of the year, there has been so much more going on. If you are interested you can follow us on social media and stay more up to date with the work that we are doing, Instagram @nightingales_romania and Twitter @NightingalesRom.

21 Jan

Experiences from Volunteers visiting Nightingales

My time at Nightingales Children’s Project by Hannah Giraudeau a pupil from Dauntsey’s School


In the summer of 2018, I had the privilege of visiting the children’s project after raising money in its support for several months with my school. Nothing can prepare you for the community you’ll come across at Nightingales, a community built on a foundation of love and support and a place like no other. We arrived in the evening, welcomed by the Nightingales team, and of course a lovely meal prepared by Stela (who was an incredible chef throughout our time there!). This trip is an annual tradition for my school, yet it still came as a shock to hear how anticipated our arrival was by the local children, and how they had been showing up at the gates days before we were even there for the activity days. The week itself was simultaneously the most exhausting and incredible experience of my life; starting the day with the wake-and-shake, spending mornings playing games on the field (“rata rata gasca – duck, duck, goose” a personal favourite), dancing to “Waka Waka” for hours on end, and of course finishing the day with one of the famous Dragon’s Den frappuccinos-ice coffee with ice-cream, all whilst creating cherished memories and friendships along the way.  Some of my favourite moments have to have been playing “Cal, Cavaler – a variation on music statues” (despite not winning once, I still think it was rigged!), Baba and Vali’s amazing dance duet during the talent show, and the intense games of volleyball played between almost one hundred people. The final day was an emotional one; it was so hard to say goodbye to everyone we’d met, and it amazed me how quickly such strong bonds were made with everyone. Everyone involved in the project is so hardworking and immensely creative, and I came away from Romania with an unforgettable experience. I wish them all the best in the future!

A trip to Nightingales with Stand International – September 2018 by Sarah-Louise Kennedy

I had an amazing time at Nightingales project last year. I spent two weeks volunteering through Stand International. I was nervous and excited about the trip with Stand as I didn’t know what to expect with coming to a new country and not knowing the language but I was surprised at how many people could speak English. I couldn’t wait to start the work at the project and to see the difference it would make. During the two weeks I painted murals at the project, I felt my painting skills were not the best for the job but by the end of the two weeks my skills develop and my confidence grew. I really enjoyed meeting the guys at the house on street Ovidiu and seeing the excitement on their faces when we arrived and building a relationship with them even though I only knew very little Romanian. The Nightingales team are special people who have a heart of gold and put so much of themselves into the project. If it wasn’t for them where would the guys at Ovidiu be? What would the children have to do in Cernavoda?  The trip made me realise how grateful I am for what I have and how lucky I am to have what I have. 

My Summers in Romania – an entry from a pupil from Dauntsey’s who came with her school and then returned the following summer to volunteer with some friends.

I first visited Nightingales Romania in July 2017, where I volunteered as part of the Dauntsey’s school annual trip to the charity. In this time we worked arranging activities for children from different backgrounds. I found this experience valuable as I have always been interested in different cultures and in charity work. I then visited Nightingales in 2018 as part of a smaller group when we took some of the girls from the ‘Girls at risk’ scheme away on a holiday to the coast in Constanta. This allowed us to engage in team-building activities and build stronger relationships with the girls. Working with the Nightingales charity has taught me how materialistic Western society can be, and while I appreciate everything I have, it has encouraged me to help those less fortunate than myself. I plan to visit again in 2019, and after developing strong relationships with those involved with the charity, I will maintain contact and continue to do anything I can to make a difference. – Beth Lacey

21 Jan

Summer 2018

The summer time in Cernavoda is always full of activities, trips, groups and visitors. This year was no different. It is a great time for the young people at Nightingales and in Cernavoda to meet new and interesting people. A time for some of them to learn new skills; and also step up to use these newly learnt skills.

Dauntsey’s School from Wiltshire have been coming to Nightingales every year for the last 11 years. It is a fantastic partnership. The young people from Dauntsey’s learn new skills and are forced to open their eyes to some of the problems and pressures facing those people in Cernavoda. They run a week of activities to which anyone in the town is welcome to come. This year saw about 150 people a day come to these activities. Young people from all walks of life in Cernavoda, young people who would not normally mix socially were there enjoying the activities. For the young people of Cernavoda it is a week when they can forget their problems and enjoy fun activities all day everyday.

One of the highlights this year was seeing one of the quietest girls of the project translating for the Dauntsey’s students.  She came out of her shell and one day completely led an activity with 15 children and 5 English students. It was just so brilliant to see this.

Stand International (based in Scotland) bring out three teams a year.  This summer they bought a fantastic team who did some amazing building work, working alongside the young people at Nightingales .

This summer the team worked hard but also were a great example for one of the young men from Nightingales in particular. During the week we saw him work side by side with the Scottish team, often getting angry as they talked in English and he couldn’t understand. But at the end of the week with the whole team from Stand having really enjoyed spending time with them, he apologised to them and told them that he would miss them and that he had learnt a huge amount.  It was amazing to see his maturity and the way he was able to apologise and express himself.  Something he would have struggled with in the past.

The summer also means beach trips, getting out and BBQs. The young people who live at Nightingales love this period and this year was just the same. Baba had his birthday at the beach, we had many walks in the town; Trips to Constanta and also the Girls at Risk had a fantastic few days away just south of Constanta. The summer is huge for the work we do. Working through long hard winters it gives our young people and staff something to look forward to. It also makes for a perfect place for conversations when people are relaxed and happy.

21 Jan

Social Enterprise at Nightingales

In January 2017 Nightingales opened a coffee shop and play area for young families in Cernavoda. The reason for opening it was because we needed a place where our young people could work, learn what it means to have a job and also to provide young families in the town who need support. In the last two years we have seen the place grow in ways we didn’t imagine happening. And it has all be down to the hard work of the young girls who are employed to work there.

The story starts before 2017, in 2015 when the gym we were running out of the building closed down due to huge competition from other gyms in Cernavoda.  For a year we tried to get the paperwork for the charity to run a business. We knew it was possible and were told it was possible but no-one knew actually how to do it. So finally we set up Nightingales Children’s Project Srl, the Romanian version of limited. The young men from the football mentoring scheme then set about renovating the gym into a coffee shop and play area. They did an amazing job and things began to take shape. The organisation IWA Bucharest then sponsored the coffee shop so we were able to buy the furniture needed, a coffee machine; (very important in a coffee shop!) and also a machine which our disabled adults will be able to use in the future if we can employ them. Dauntsey’s School and Stand International worked hard to make the outside area look inviting and a fun place to be.

After a huge team effort,  by January 2017 we had all the paperwork, chairs, tables and coffee needed to start.

In January 2017 we had no employees but  2 of our long term volunteers Ben and Luiza Wells were able to work there as volunteers as administrators of the business and on  19th of January 2017 we opened the doors.  We didn’t expect a huge amount of people to come, but in the first week, (when we were open just Friday and Saturday afternoon), we made almost 100 pounds!

Since then we have really seen the place evolve.  It is now a regular meeting place for young families, a party venue for Children and a place where our young people who were in our projects come and hang out with their friends.

We have employed 10 young girls who have learned the benefits of working to earn money. They now have the skills that make it possible for them to have a bright future.  They have worked in a workplace which has often asked hard questions of them but also supported them through out.

We have become a place where young people want to come to, a place where, every Friday night, over 30 children come to an arts and crafts activity. The place has grown more than we could have imagined over the last two years and we are all very excited about how this will develop further going forwards.