Category: <span>Foundation</span>

06 Oct

Annie Watson – Volunteering with my mum

Last year me and my family spent two weeks in Romania. The holiday was fun but different in many ways. We started in Cernavoda. Each day we went out to Casa Fericirii to see Turkian, Daniela, Romana, Adriana and Baba and if we were lucky Valerica and Elena too.  We also saw the kind-hearted charity workers that helped the Dragon’s Den to help kids in need. Seeing how excited they all were to go to a shopping centre, McDonalds and to see the beach made me realise how spoilt I am in England as this would be weekly things like going out for dinner. I enjoyed painting the walls and designing the library room as I felt good knowing I was doing something for charity. However, this also made me feel very lucky to have local libraries that I can go to with an amazing wide range of books to choose from and read.

Getting the train was a crazy experience. People where walking across the tracks to the other side instead of having bridges, other people jumped down onto the tracks and boarded the train from the opposite side. To be honest it was quite scary walking across the tracks as in England no one would ever have the idea of even doing that! I loved my stay here a lot but the photos that my mum showed me where every different to how it is now.

Later on, during the holiday, we visited Sinaia in the mountains. This was one of the most beautiful, lush places I had ever seen. The mountains were covered in green and had incredible views.  We ended up getting the cable cars up the mountains all the way to the top; this was an amazing experience. At the top it was very windy but the views where breath taking. It also felt pretty cool knowing that there were bears roaming around throughout the trees in the mountains we were in.  During this holiday we went to many different places to eat and some the choices of food where surprisingly a lot like England. Walking around the roads we came across many wild dogs which was unexpected, one of them gave me the fright of my life.  I wasn’t used to this happening as in England I would never see a wild dog running around freely.

Over all I enjoyed my experience so much in Romania. I loved all the places we visited as they were all spectacular and I loved spending time with the young people my mum knows. It gave me a great understanding of how different some countries may be to others. Also, it made me grateful for the opportunities I have that others don’t; this inspired me to help others in any ways possible to ensure they get what they need to live an enjoyable life that they deserve.

06 Oct

My trip to Romania – Ruby Watson

Last year we went to Romania too see who my mum looked after when she was younger. When we first got to Cernavoda it looked really different to the pictures of when my mum was there. The first time we met the kids I was surprised how excited they were to see my mum. It was amazing how much they missed her, just like she misses them! I loved all of the kids and thought it was amazing what the charity is doing. One of the days we were there we took Turkian, Daniela, Romana, Buba and Adriana out to Constanta for a while and it made me realise how spoilt we are over here. The kids were excited to go to McDonalds and me and my family go out for dinner quite often. However, for a few days on our trip to Romania me and my family went to Sinaia and this was without a doubt the most beautiful place I have ever seen! The views and the place in general were just wonderful!  To help the charity me, my mum and my sister decorated the library for kids my age and younger to go and visit. We painted the walls, sorted books and laid out pillows and blankets so it was comfy for anyone who needed to visit.

When we got back from our amazing trip to Romania I just wanted to go back and do more than just decorate the library.

So, when Ben gave us the opportunity to do more I was so excited. My mum said if we did 100 miles either running or cycling in August we could raise £200 for Romania. Even though I hate running this still made me happy as I would do anything for the kids. Our aim was 100 miles to raise £200 but we managed to do 150 miles and raise over 1000 pounds!

23 Sep

Nightingales working through the global pandemic

Since March 2020, like the rest of the world, Nightingales has been feeling the effects of the global pandemic. We have been adhering to the restrictions placed by the Romanian authorities on Romanian citizens to help combat the spread of the virus, which has meant we have had to change the way we work. 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 activities 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 life-skills. 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 on 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 accomplishment for these young people has been huge. They do miss the volunteers and usual summertime adventures, but they have been enjoying the new range of activities.

The young men from the football team saw their season end in March having only played half their games. Our 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 therefore spending long-term. In spite 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