We want to continue our journey. It doesn’t end at 18!
The Day Center "Dorohoi" accommodates over 25 children and young people with disabilities from the local town but also from nearby villages. In the last few years, poeple started to come even from 50 miles away, all because they do not have access to other centers or other social service resources for children and persons with disabilities. Dorohoi is one of the poorest areas of north-east Romania, where people can hardly find a place to work.
Through the window, you can see two faces of two young people with Down Syndrome: Liviu and Andrea. Their eyes blurred with sleep but smiling and happy faces because of today, they feel valued and they have a goal, that is to go to the Day Care center "Star of Hope Dorohoi."
If other people to go to work in the morning, others to do shopping or other young people to meet their partners, Liviu and Andrea, accompanied by their mothers, go to the center to meet with their friends, special people like them. They already know the route, the trip from home to the center is over 30 miles on way yet they started visiting the center weekly for the last past 14 years.
They started this journey when they were little kids and were diagnosed with Down Syndrome, then no one wanted them. The communities they come from didn’t want to make an effort to integrate them so the only option was the Star of Hope center.
When they started to come to Day Care Center they were unable to do anything. Step by step they learned to hold a pen, then to draw and later even to write letters and numbers. It was a hard work for them but also for the specialists. They, together with other children with disabilities, learned to play, to sing, dance and draw, to communicate, to relate to each other, to make friends and to find happiness. For many young people with disabilities is often difficult and hard to understand the world around them. One example is Vlad, a boy with Down syndrome, who at first when he came to our center was crawling on the floor, barking and biting other kids, today he is a young man of 20 years who won a sports medal, here alongside his friends from the club.
The children with disabilities were trained in Star of Hope Centre, were educated and they were no longer a threat to the community. Step by step we began to work with the mentality of our communities. At the beginning, people were looking strange at our children but gradually the intervention has gained their confidence. Many children and teens from different school now come and volunteer at the center.
These children, as Liviu, Andrea, and Vlad, began in our center as children. Now they are young people. Because we didn’t want to abandon them as others, we developed a special club called “ Young’s Club”. This is the perfect place for them to develop a lot of activities. Here they use to develop the computer skills, painting, and handmade skills. Also in the center are organized activities where town students come and volunteer, helping our teenagers, doing educational and sports activities together. These wonderful things happened because we had the courage to go out, in the middle of the community (town or village) and show that all are part of the same world.
"It is stunning to see how it can change a child's character and behavior, actually an entire life. You have no greater joy as when you look in the eyes of the child who most often than cannot say in words thank you, but you understand it with the heart."
Text Camelia Topală - Coordinator of the center in Dorohoi Romania.
Learn more here: https://www.starofhope.us/romania-moldova
Sponsor the work here: https://www.starofhope.us/get-involved/quick-give-form