Oct 26, 2020

FRIENDSHIP!!

FRIENDSHIP! 

Friends to play with... learn with... share birthdays...help complete a puzzle or build a lego castle... 
For many of our kids at Delia's Learning Center, this is the first time they have had a friend their own age.

Can you imagine being 8 years old or 11 years old and due to being autistic you are rejected from attending school? No opportunity to learn how to buld relationships with peers?  Never knowing the simple joy of having a birthday cake placed in front of you while your friends sing and clap for you?

Our psychologist Lidia, and both of our other teachers gently guide children to appropriate socialization. When we re-opened our Center, we slowly got the children acclimated again. AND WOW!  What words are there to express when we see a child who rarely has smiled, beaming to have her friends celebrate her birthday? Or one day we observe that a child whose autism and lack of socialization has kept him in his "shell," is all of a sudden engaged in a learning game with another child. 

Well, there are no words... so with this update we are sharing many photos so you can see for yourself! During this difficult year, we have all experienced isolation from friends. Perhaps it will give you a little boost to know that by supporting The Delia Foundation you have helped some very special children eliminate the barriers that have isolated them.  

We wish you good health in the months ahead. Please reach out to myself, Laura Larkin or David Conway if you would like to know more about our work.

All Best,

Lauren Fishbach, U.S. Board President

NOTE: Our team always wears masks and we follow all hygiene and sanitization practices as mandated by the Romanian government. (We have just sent them special masks with a piece of plastic over the mouth area so that children can see facial expressions -- which is critical for communication with children for have special needs.) Per the law, temperatures are taken daily for everyone entering the Center. Our children with more significant medical needs have not yet returned to the Center.

Jul 20, 2020

Delia's Friends Learning Center REOPENS!

We had high hopes for this kicking off this new fundraising campaign. We had just moved into a new, larger facility where we have space to serve more children and where we have individual classrooms for each of our three teachers. The wheels were moving on our new autism program. Then, Covid-19 hit and we needed to quickly refocus on how to best help the children attending our Center. Before the Barlad community went into lockdown, we worked with partner Good News for Romania to purchase and deliver food to families living in the rural villages who were facing food insecurities. We swiftly put in a place a plan for Facetime sessions and phone calls to encourage continual learning, provide guidance to families navigating difficult situations and to ensure that medical needs were being met. Once the weather turned warmer, our teachers met kids outdoors in their homes, in the park and at the zoo!

Here's what we did not do: We did not launch the fundraising campaign as planned. The majority of our donors are based in the U.S. and in the UK. We felt that March and early April was not the right time for this campaign.( In December, we held a very successful campaign which enabled us to fund our autism program.)  We were lucky to be able to obtain a rent reduction, we continued to have the support of donors, and we secured multiple grants including a microgrant from GlobalGiving. We view this campaign as "on hold" and will turn back to it.

Delia's Friends Learning Center re-opened last week. We re-opened slowly with just a few children at a time and already have new parents hoping to have their kids join us soon. 

As always, we so appreciate the support of our donors and of our friends "on the ground" in Barlad who help us make this all possible!

Many thanks,

Laura Larkin, CEO, The Delia Foundation

Lauren Fishbach, U.S. Board President

David Conway, Trustee, Association of Delia's Friends

Links:

Jun 29, 2020

Our Autism Program Takes a Step Forward!

A teacher visit to Gabi's home
A teacher visit to Gabi's home

While Covid-19’s impact has challenged us, it also has brought us closer to the community we serve. It has inspired our team in Romania, the U.S. and UK to find creative ways to provide support to the children who attend our day program and their foster parents/parents. Our staff has communicated through individual Facetime and phone call “sessions” to interact with the kids, provide instruction on activities and “check in”. As many of our kids have medical issues, we want to help if assistance is needed. With the warmer weather, we have met children in local parks or outside at their homes.  

Some of our families live in the villages and do not have running water. We were concerned as this makes hygiene more difficult when we are instructed to wash our hands to prevent the spread of the virus. We were also concerned about food insecurity and, in fact, assisted our partner Good News for Romania, by purchasing and delivering emergency food just as the country was being locked down.

While in many ways daily life has seemed at a stand still these past few months, our Autism Program has taken a step forward!  One of our teachers, Gabriela, completed her introductory course in Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), hosted by Autism Voice Romania and accredited by the Romanian College of Psychologists. We were excited that the course was still being taught and it was delivered in a live, on-line format for three days in April and three days in May. Gabriela has told us that the class introduced her to communication techniques and methods of working with autistic children that she knows will be life changing. She can’t wait to get back into the classroom to implement new ideas and share her knowledge with other staff.  Our psychologist, Lidia, will be attending the ABA course the next time it is given. In March, Lidia completed her Masters degree in Psychology and Educational Services (which encompasses primary education and instructing people with special needs). 

Prior to Covid-19, we had planned for all three of our full-time staff to be trained in the Picture Exchange System, a common tool used to help children with autism communicate. Our research led us to a consulting firm in Bucharest (5 hours by train) that offers both group workshop training and private instruction. We were hoping to have sent our team to Bucharest this summer for initial training but, of course, there are no workshops.

As always we are grateful for your support, which has enabled us to offer our services to children in need, free of charge.  We look forward to providing updates on the autism program but please reach out if you would like more information. On a separate note, we have changed the name of our Center to Delia’s Friends Learning Center in order to clearly state that we offer a program focused on learning and to better coincide with the name of our Romanian NGO and foundations in the US and UK.

We wish you and your family good health.

All best,

Laura Larkin, CEO, The Delia Foundation

Lauren Fishbach, U.S. Board President, Delia’s Friends Learning Center

David Conway, Trustee, Delia's Friends UK

Oana-Elana Codreanu, President, NGO Fundatia Delia Barlad 

Mario & Valentina meet a teacher in the park
Mario & Valentina meet a teacher in the park
Siblings Valentina & Mario outdoors with a teacher
Siblings Valentina & Mario outdoors with a teacher
Miruna with her Easter gift bag
Miruna with her Easter gift bag
Madelina: Happy to meet her teacher in the park!
Madelina: Happy to meet her teacher in the park!
Sharing plant-care during a teacher home visit!
Sharing plant-care during a teacher home visit!

Links:

 
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