Nightingales Children's Project Romania - Charity number – 1047698

19 Dec

The story of Mihaela – The long term care programme:

woman-731395_960_720Mihaela* was abandoned by her mother when she was just a baby in an orphanage. Her mother was unable to look after a baby. Mihaela struggled health wise for the first part of her life, often spending large amounts of time in hospital with various problems. She would become quite anxious and angry because of this and being unable to express herself so she would bite her hand for relief.

When Mihaela was 12 she was moved from the state-run orphanage to a home run by an NGO where finally for the first time in her life she could grow her hair, something that she is still very proud of, she was able to start education and have a few possessions that she could keep and clothes of her own rather than communal. She lived with her friends at the NGO until the age of 18 when she finished grade 8. If she had remained in state care this would have meant she would have been sent to an old people’s home for the rest of her life. But in 2007 she moved into a supported living house where she and 4 others live with the support of car workers. They are fully active in their daily lives, shopping, cooking, cleaning and doing daily chores at the NGO which oversees the house.

Mihaela would not have the quality of life she has now without this support, she is able to shop without being able to read or write, or understanding the notion of money with the support of workers and the local community. She loves spending her free time making jewellery, drawing and watching Turkish films. She understands everything even though she cannot read the subtitles or understand the Turkish.

*Names have been changed to protect this young person’s identity.

04 Jun

Cycling from London to Cernavoda you must be mad?

2 Wheels 2 Cernavoda

Jo Wells is cycling from London to Cernavoda this summer to raise funds for Nightingales. Here she talks a little bit about her worries, plans and excitement about the trip ahead. Jo will be joined on her trip by Douglas MacGregor, who has  just had a hip replaced! Links to their Facebook pages you can find at the end of the article.
Their aim is to raise £5000 for Nightingales Children’s Project.

‘This weekend, I attended the second annual Cycle Touring Festival in Clitheroe. Unsure of what I would get from being there, I was keen to try and absorb as much useful information and advice that I could from a host of experienced bike tourers.
What I came away with far exceeded all of my expectations. I left inspired, buoyed up and almost ready to leave that instant. My planned journey, from London to Romania, paled in comparison with the extraordinary adventures of the majority of festival goers but every single person was keen to offer road-tested advice and support.
Recently, many of the conversations that I have had about my trip have left me with a silent and growing sense of dread.
How is your training going?
Have you planned your route thoroughly?
Where are you going to stay?
Have you thought this through?
How are you going to stay safe?
Do you think you should do it next year and have a nice holiday this summer instead?
Never quite sure of the answer to any of these questions, I have flustered through vaguely plausible answers but this weekend I have realised that I have the answers to all of these. Yes, I am ready for this trip. Anyone can come up with an excuse for not starting and all of these questions could provide legitimate reasons but actually none of them are good enough to prevent me leaving on 29th July 2016. Many things will go wrong; most things will probably go wrong but I will learn as I go and adapt to what I have to overcome.
Leaving the festival on Monday morning, I felt as though I had been welcomed into a community of people who cycle for the love of cycling. Cycling is not a race, nor just a means of commuting, nor a chore or part of an exercise regime. These people cycle so that they can experience so much more of the world and the people in it. The realisation that the world is a friendlier place than we are ever led to believe was so evident in everyone that I spoke to.
On my journey to Romania, I have no doubt that there will be many highs and lows but the inspiration for this trip will always remain the work of Nightingales Children’s Project and if that is not a good enough reason to just get going, I don’t know what is!’

Jo Wells https://www.facebook.com/2-Wheels-2-Cernavoda-1250613831630719/
Douglas MacGregor https://www.facebook.com/Wee-Dougs-Big-Ride-to-Cernavoda-1320811197935273/

28 May

A quick day trip round Romania

Once a month the young people from Nightingales are invited on a day out to Bucharest by a lady who runs a charity there. She prepares monthly trips for young people and children from various institutions and hospitals from the Bucharest region. Thursday 19th May was supposed to be another trip just like every month. Martha, the lady from Bucharest told us that we would be visiting 4 monasteries just outside of Bucharest and that we would have to be at the meeting place, McDonald’s at 8.00am rather than 8.30am.

The start time from Cernavoda was 6am, the sky was bright and it looked like it was going to be a beautiful day. We loaded into the mini-bus still a little sleepy ready to head off for a fun day!!! Little did we realise that this ‘fun day’ would take in a round trip of Romania and we would return to Cernavoda over 15 hours later!!

The first stop after McDonald’s was Targoviste, a beautiful town to the north west of Bucharest. The sun was shining and the grass around a local monastery was a true green colour. The young people loved walking around the grounds, chasing the odd cat and lying back relaxing on the grass. We were soon off to the next monastery, situated on a hill outside Targoviste, with amazing views over the town. It was after 1pm after we left here and the young people were a little hungry and tired and looked ready to go home!

Luckily it was also Turkian’s birthday and she bought everyone some crisps and juice to keep the spirits up until lunch time. The next monastery we had hoped was on the way back home, but this was wishful thinking!!! The GPS pointed us in the direction of the next place, over in the county of Arges!!

We arrived in Arges as the rain started to fall, and the young people’s stomachs were rumbling!!! The first monastery in Arges was also the lunch stop!! For us this was the last monastery. The young people ate as quickly as possible and we were in the van ready for a long drive home!! Almost five hours later we made it!!

Now to the outsider this might not seem like a fun day, but it was great, the young people were happy to chat, talk about summer plans and look back on the good times we have had together over the last few years. Adriana obviously did a lot of bus dancing!! Elena enjoyed some coca-cola, Baba was giving the driver constant instructions of where to go and the girls from the apartment were on really good form!! Often the best times are the most unexpected ones, exactly like our trip around Romania!!!

A quick day trip round Romania

27 May

The unsung heros of Nightingales

Nightingales like most charities relies on people to donate and fund raise, to be able to offer the opportunities for the beneficiaries of the charity. Without the drive and vision of David Savage we would not be where we are now, but there are a few unsung heroes who do all the groundwork, who daily are there with the young people and children we are working with, our staff and volunteers.

One of the positives about Nightingales is the staff we have, and have had, have always been dedicated to the Nightingales cause, the three paid staff we have currently working for the charity, have a combined total of 60 years working for Nightingales, this is a wealth of experience, and time spent with our young people. This allows them to offer the care these young people need. The staff we have had in the past have also shown their dedication and love for the young people, coming back to visit them, asking about them and we are sure thinking about them often.

The paid staff are not the only ones who have dedicated years of their lives for the young people here, it goes without saying David and his family have been involved with these young people for 24 years, next year it will be 25!!! In those 24 years there have been a whole host of volunteers who have given up time, jobs, holiday and money to come and spend time with these young people. Earlier this month Kerry Davies and Linda Davies came out to visit the young people, after a 13 year gap!! The young people loved seeing them both again, and we hope that there will be more volunteers who return on a more regular basis to visit these now young adults.

There are many people that Nightingales cannot run without, and often the staff and volunteers get forgotten behind those running marathons, raising money and running the charity, but the lives of our young people have been and will be changed by the dedication of the staff and volunteers that have invested so much time and love into these young people. Thank you all of you for your hard work.

The unsung heros of Nightingales

06 May

Sara’s Story

 

Elena's Story

 

Sara*, is one of our young ladies from the girls at risk programme, we have asked her to talk about her life growing up in Cernavoda, what choices her friends made and how she has been supported by Nightingales Children’s Project to choose a different future.

“When I was a young girl, I enjoyed playing with dolls all day long. After Daniel, my brother, was born, I had to look after him as my parents had to work. I was like a second mother to him, until class ten when my parents realised that I needed to spend time with my friends without Daniel. Looking back now having Daniel with me when I went out with my friends, helped me to make positive life choices, and because I was worried about what Daniel would tell my parents if I did some of the things my friends were doing.
When I was young my parents were very strict with me, and many times I wanted to run away from home, because I felt they did not understand me. Once aged 7, I was at home with Daniel and my father. Daniel was not feeling very well and I accidently knocked over his medicine. My father was so angry with me, he packed my bags and asked me to leave. I took the bags and left the house, a 7 year old holding a bag of her clothes, not knowing where I was going or what I was doing. Fortunately for me I had not gone far, and I met my mother coming back from work. She took my hand and walked me home. This was the start of the breakdown of the relationship with my father and since that day we have not been close, even though I have tried and often wish we could be close, like he is with Daniel.

At school I was shy, and did not make friends easily. In class 5, I made friends with 3 girls and we would spend all our free time together. Up until class 8; when they started to skip lessons, so that they could have sex with older men. They did not ask me if I wanted to come with them, maybe because I was more timid and shier than they were. Now two of the girls have children, the other girl is working overseas as a prostitute.
Four years ago, I started coming to the charity and getting involved in one of their summer programmes, and then helping to translate for the English volunteers. That summer I met Luiza, the Nightingales social worker, I quickly became good friends with her, opening up about my life and my family. At the end of the summer she asked me if I wanted to be involved in a programme for girls who are at risk of being trafficked. I finally found a place where I felt loved and could be myself without being judged by my family, or feeling as if I was second best to my brother. It was a refuge for me, which has helped me to resist the temptation to run away from home.

The charity has helped me in a huge amount in all areas of my life. It has been a great support when I have felt angry or powerless in the face of certain situations. Luiza has always been there to listen to me and give me advice whenever I have needed it. If she had not pushed me to study and the charity helped pay for extra maths classes I would have most probably not passed my Baccalaureate exams. I am now finishing my second year at university studying to be an accountant and dreaming of a bright future, where I can support my family through a job and hard work, not by having to use my body to make money.”
Sara is the oldest girl in the project and is a great example to the other girls of someone who grew up in their neighbourhood and is making positive life choices. We are very proud of her and the young lady that she is becoming; she has got a great future ahead.

  • Names have been changed to protect people’s identities.

22 Apr

A different week at school a great week at Nightingales

During this last week Romanian schools run a special programme of extra curricular activities instead of usual lessons. This week Nightingales has offered activities ranging from dance and games to cooking and arts and crafts. The activities were designed and run by a group of 8 of the girls at risk.

The girls spent the 2 weekends before this week devising a list of activities and getting eveything for the week. To be honest those of us supervising their sessions did not have faith that it would run smoothly, that they would be there on time or that sessions would captivate the children’s attention. How wrong could we of been?

school Nightingales

On Monday morning, having been told they should be there at 7.50, they were all there ready to go. The first group came and went, no problems all very smoothly. After 4 hours and over 120 children the girls were exhausted, so much so that one even feel asleep that afternoon at school. They did it, they ran engaging, fun and well run sessions all week. Children left saying it was the best time of their life. Teachers talked for hours about the value of what their children had just done. Mothers of pupils asked how they could engage more with the charity. None of this was down to the charity, the staff or the volunteers it was down to this group of 8 girls who showed that although they struggle in areas of life, they have such huge potential.

These girls have taught us a lesson this week, never underestimate anyone and we all have such great potential if only we have somewhere we can show it!

cooking and arts and crafts

19 Apr

Claudia: One tough cookie!!

Claudia was bought up in Cernavoda Orphanage, she was one of the brightest and smartest girls in salon 18. It must have been hard aged 4 seeing her friends and classmates move to another home in Mihail Kogalniceanu. But for Claudia this was the start of an amazing relationship with David Savage, a relationship which has lasted over 24 years and Claudia still keeps in contact with David and his family even though she is now living in Italy.

Claudia has suffered a huge amount in her life, this suffering has made her into the headstrong and determined young lady that she is today. The mother of a bright, intelligent child and a loving wife. Claudia’s friends will tell you that she is fiercely loyal, something that was developed in her as she was growing up, being let down by those around her and the people in whom she put her trust. She was an active and senior member of Casa Fericirii, the home run by Nightingales, always pushing boundaries, the first of the young people to go to High School, the first to pass their driving test, the first to move out and live independently.

Claudia has turned into a remarkable young lady, living and working now in Italy. She certainly has to thank David and others for helping her become the person she is today; but a large amount of the hard work was down to Claudia herself. Growing up without a mother, gave her the passion to be a great mum to her son, growing up in a communal living has made her independent, but also a loyal friend. Claudia has fought against a lot in her life, but she has turned into a fine young lady of whom we are all proud.

Claudia: One tough cookie!!

16 Apr

In case anyone asks, glue comes from Devon!

24 years ago a young man from Devon came for 3 months to work in an orphanage in Cernavoda, those three months changed his life and the life of those children more than anyone could imagine.

For the last 24 years Nightingales has cared for hundreds of children and young adults, provided often life changing volunteering opportunities for a large amount of people and employment for over 50 members of the local community, all this would not have happened if it had not been for one man, who has had the drive, ambition and the fight to make this possible, David Savage, MBE.

Yesterday David celebrated his 49th birthday, his last before he has spent more of his life in Romania than he has in England!! It is hard to put into words the effect that David has had on the lives of the young people who lived in Cernavoda orphanage and those families he, and Nightingales, have supported in the community. The majority of his work, will go unknown and unnoticed, (until we persuade him to write his autobiography), but the effect can be clearly seen in the lives of the young people today, lives that have been radically changed from 1992. Young children living with no hope, and little or no love waiting for the next of their friends to pass away; who today are active members of the communities they live in all across Europe. They are now mothers to children, hardworking employees and most importantly young people who live in the knowledge that they are living a better future, than they could have imagined back in 1992!

David will take none of the credit for what he and Nightingales have achieved, saying it was down to a group of people, or it could not have been done without certain people, which is true he had an amazing team of workers, helpers and employees during the 1990’s; people who are still actively supporting the charity today, but David is still here, with 24 years of experience and now the support of an amazing wife and 2 beautiful children, still helping these young people, he is definitely the glue that holds Nightingales together.

Happy Birthday, thank you from all the young people you have helped, thank you from all the volunteers who you have given amazing opportunities to and thank you for holding Nightingales together for the last 24 years!!

08 Apr

Football mentoring, what is it and how does it work?

Since 2012 Nightingales has been working with young men to help keep them in education, help them make positive life choices and help them not get caught up in trafficking young girls and women for a living.

The project started with 6 young men playing in a local futsal (6-a-side indoor football) league. These young men were having problems with drugs, school and finding a direction for their lives! Playing in a football team gave them a focus, a direction and also a reason not to take drugs or get drunk, as they were not allowed to play if they were high. We quickly realised that through training we had a platform where we could teach these young people how to make decision on the pitch and in life. Every training session is based around a skill we are trying to develop for the team on the pitch, and linked to a skill in life that can help them outside of football.

The more time that was spent with these young men the more we realised the positive influence the football programme was having on their lives. Their friends started coming too and by September 2014, we had over 80 young people attending our sessions, so we set up our own league. Today we have over 100 young people, we also have a female team, participating in our league. The emphasis is still the same, what can we teach these young men, through football, that will have a lasting impact on their lives. At their insistance the project was given the name ‘Academia Emaus’, translated to the ‘Emmaus Academy’.

From the original six players, one is attending university, four are in full time employment and one has just finished qualifying as a truck driver. Three of them have come through a qualification which has given them the skills to mentor others through football. As a team they may not have won any prizes, but in life they are all winners, making positive choices which effect them and those around them.

emaus-w800

05 Apr

Welcome to the Nightingales blog!

Nightingales is pleased to announce that as of today, 5th April 2016, you will be able to keep up to date with all that Nightingales is doing through this blog. It will be a place where you will get direct insight into the beneficiaries lives, the projects that we run and the programmes that happen at Nightingales throughout the year.

Weekly we will be posting, giving a more in depth view of the charity than we are able to communicate through social media and our website. We would appreciate your feedback regarding what you read here and what you would like to be reading.

We look forward to sharing with you all about the great work that continues to go on at Nightingales, and the plans we have for the future of the charity!!

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