Seeking to experience something bigger than yourself? Then stop and take 5 minutes to read this… Volunteering in Romania may be the next item added to your bucket list.
“Romania Global Volunteer” [ noun ] 1. A person who travels to volunteer their time and offer their heart to make a difference in the lives of others but ends up also changing their own.
Nurturing. Persistent. Thoughtful. Loving. Influential. SPECIAL. These are all words that are used to describe a Romania Global Volunteer.
Global Volunteers’ Romanian hosts enables you to serve the at-risk infants and toddlers at the Municipal Hospital “Elena Beldiman” with nothing but love and care. Hugs mean love in any language, and love is surely needed every single day at the Barlad hospital. As a volunteer, you help the experienced nursing staff attend to the children’s daily needs through play, exercise, feeding, and your own style of kindness and compassion. If you’re a nurse or other health care professional, you can even help these at-risk children overcome persistent medical challenges. Children with hearing or sight impairments or mental disabilities such as Down syndrome, autism, PKU, respond immediately to your loving stimulation. In addition to caring for the children, there are also opportunities to teach conversational English and help with light labor projects.
Each year, we have individuals who CONTINUE to spend their yearly vacation time as a Romania Global Volunteer. So what inspires Romania Global Volunteers to continue giving and giving? As you read on, you’ll notice that although each Romania Global Volunteer has their own story, they all have one thing in common – the children in Romania have changed their lives.
Evan Boido – Repeat Romania Global Volunteer, 11 programs
Evan has been a Romania Global Volunteer for almost 10 years. Throughout those years, she has participated on 11 Romania programs. Evan has not only provided consistent and stable love and care to the children in Barlad, she has watched them grow – like a family. Here is her story:
Talk about being hooked. This year I completed my 11th program in Romania. What keeps me going back? The children. I remember a wise woman, Dr. Delia, telling us that anyone can give money, we give love. Let me tell you something, I get way more than I give. I’ve fed children, sometimes more than one at a time; I’ve read to children; I’ve helped them learn to roll over, sit up, crawl and walk; I’ve sang songs, danced and made a fool out of myself; and, most importantly, I’ve held them and looked them in the eyes, and I hope I have made them feel loved. Part of the program is to develop personal and team goals. One of my goals in Romania is always to say, “Te iubesc” (I love you) to each child every day.
I come home tired and missing the children. I eagerly await Facebook posts and pictures from other volunteers. I delight in their progress, and yes, at times I’ve mourned when we’ve lost a particularly vulnerable child to his or her particular illness. I think about trying another program next year to a new location. And what do I do? I sign up for Romania again each and every year. I know I will reconnect with children I’ve met before, fall in love with new children, make friends with other volunteers, and I will go back.
Evan through the years:
Evan through the years
Upper-left: from 2007, upper-right: from 2009, lower-left: from 1011, lower-right: from 2015
Venessa Humphrey – First-time Romania Global Volunteer
After watching a friend experience the life-changing volunteer adventure in Romania, Venessa couldn’t stop herself from signing up – even if she tried.
In 2013, my friend volunteered in Romania with Global Volunteers for the second time. It was the first time I had heard of this, and she kindly included me in her email updates during her trip. I remember receiving one of her email updates while I was at work. This particular email moved me to the point of tears. I was crying at my desk, and I thought that if it’s affecting me this much, then I need to help.
I plan on returning. My main motivation is, without question, the children. I never anticipated that I would have formed such a strong connection with them and I miss them more than I thought would be possible. The staff do an amazing job, but they need the support that volunteers provide.
If you are even slightly considering this opportunity, here is how Venessa responds:
Volunteering in Romania was one of the richest and most rewarding experiences of my life. I will say, however, that it can be exhausting; physically, mentally and emotionally. It will test you at times. Be prepared for the fact that there are things that you cannot change; situations that you can only approach with love and support. Do the best that you can. Forgive yourself when you feel like you may be falling short (I assure you, you won’t be). Listen to Mihaela and Dan (local staff). Always help out Coca (local staff) as best you can. And give the kids big, squishy hugs for me!
Venessa in Romania:
Venessa in Romania
Jane Louise – Repeat Romania Global Volunteer, 3 programs
Jane found the Romania Global Volunteer program back in 2011 when she was Googling “volunteer opportunities in Europe”. Since then, Jane has been back to visit the children twice – the most recent time being in March of 2015. She plans on going back again as soon as possible and sees no end to these trips. So what’s her story? What motives Jane to continue giving and giving?
Firstly, the children have a way of burrowing into your heart that any Romania volunteer can attest to! They are so easy to fall in love with. We also have the privilege of watching these amazing children grow and develop. I know I’m not the only volunteer who thinks of the children as ‘my’ kids. We take ownership of their achievements like any proud parent.
Secondly, I have a huge admiration and respect for Mihaela, Dan, and Coca (the local staff – not to mention many other hospital staff), and a desire to see them encouraged and supported for the amazing work they do.
Thirdly, I enjoy learning about Romania and visiting different places on the weekends and after my trips. It truly is a beautiful country, very different to Australia (hometown).
Finally, there is the personal aspect. While the experiences have always been tiring, the demand of putting the children first has a profound and surprising effect on my own well-being. I hope that I leave a more gracious, empathetic person. I am certainly more grateful for the life of privilege I have been blessed with (and didn’t realise I had). It is also an honour to watch my team-mates have this same experience. The love that my co-volunteers show to the children is also very uplifting, and the bonding that has occurred between us has meant that life-long friendships have developed. I now have good friends in various parts of the world, how exciting is that!! We know that we will always be welcome in each others’ homes and communities – a truly global experience.
If others are considering this opportunity, I would advise them in just one word – GO!
Jane through the years:
Jane through the years
Left: from 2013, middle: from 2011, right: from 2015
Romania Global Volunteers – Statistics:
Since 1999, over 1,850 individuals have served in Romania with Global Volunteers providing more than 150,000 service hours.
Click here to learn how you can become a Romania Global Volunteer. Be part of something bigger.