Help autistic orphans in Romania get an education

by The Delia Foundation
Help autistic orphans in Romania get an education
Help autistic orphans in Romania get an education
Help autistic orphans in Romania get an education
Help autistic orphans in Romania get an education
Help autistic orphans in Romania get an education
Help autistic orphans in Romania get an education
Help autistic orphans in Romania get an education
Help autistic orphans in Romania get an education
Help autistic orphans in Romania get an education
Help autistic orphans in Romania get an education
Help autistic orphans in Romania get an education
Help autistic orphans in Romania get an education
Help autistic orphans in Romania get an education
Help autistic orphans in Romania get an education
Help autistic orphans in Romania get an education
Help autistic orphans in Romania get an education
Help autistic orphans in Romania get an education
Help autistic orphans in Romania get an education
Help autistic orphans in Romania get an education
Help autistic orphans in Romania get an education

What an amazing, productive and insightful visit we had to our Delia's Learning Center!  Delia Foundation CEO Laura Larkin and I spent two weeks in May with our kids and wonderful team in Barlad.  We are thrilled to share with you that we have launched a NEW TEEN/PRE-TEEN PROGRAM led by our newest team who is a Social Worker (called Social Assistant in Romania). 

Since opening our doors three years ago, our goal has been to provide the children with tools to help them be more independent once they become adults. BUT due to their disabilities and lack of formal education, many of these kids have been at risk of being returned to a state run facilty when they become of age. This is why our program has emphasized educational tutoring and teaching life skills.  To further assist our older kids, we are developing the Teen/Pre-Teen program. For now our Social Worker is part-time but we hope to raise additional funds to have her work full-time.

The program has small groups and one-on-one, specifically teaching life skills according to the needs of each child. We work with the children at our Center and in their homes to assist the foster mothers in addressing any specific in-home challenges. We also plan to provide instruction through real world experiences -- taking the kids to the grocery store, the movies, the bank, a restaurant, etc.  We want children to understand how to use money at a basic level, how to take care of themselves physically while navigating any of their own physical or medical difficulties, and always how to interact socially with others. We are helping them start to think vocationally. One of our teens, Mario Z, wants to start a business and he came up with a great idea. Click on the link below to watch our video of Mario who explains his concept. (at the bottom of this page: Mario Z Pitches His Business Plan) You can even help him attain his dream to have a fishing business this summer! 

We look forward to sharing more details about this new, much-needed program.  Attached are some photos - one of our pre-teens wants to be a hair dresser when she grows up so we got a professional haircutters wig donated for her to practice on!

As always, thank you for your kind suppport.  If you would like to learn more about helping to support our Teen Program, please email me at  lauren@deliafoundation.org.

Best,

Lauren Fishbach, Co-Founder, Delia's Learning Center, US Board President, The Delia Foundation

Laura Larkin, Co-Founder, Delia's Learning Center, CEO, The Delia Foundation

David Conway, Co-Founder, Delia's Learning Center, Trustee, UK Association of Delia's Friends

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Hello Friends!  Buna prieteni!

We are excited to write and share some wonderful photos to give you a peak into our Delia's Learning Center. Here are just a few really important highlights since we last wrote: 

  • Drum roll please.... We are hiring a part-time social worker to develop a teen program. Hard to believe but we now have six teenagers attending the Center. As they enter this next phase of their life, we would like to include more instruction in development of life skills and to work with the kids and their foster moms on increasing independence and self-care. 
  • With your funding assistance, our team took an additional class series in Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Therapy. One of our teacher is already certified in ABA and was thrilled to be able to continue to build her knowledge to help the kids. The class was also very helpful for our psychologist and speech therapist
  • One of our little girls with autism who came to us last year never smiling and not speaking is now SMILING and while we never heard her speak before, she is now singing and interacting with other children!
  • A key goal is to provide educational support as 85% of all autistic children in Romania do not go to school. The kids are making progress in learning the basic of the alphabet, writing and math. They especially love puzzles!
  • Learning appropriate ways to interact socially is critical for all kids. It doesn't come naturally for most children with autism and we are so proud of the growth we have seen as kids who never had friends before are establishing relationships!

2022 promises to be bright and full of opportunities! We can't wait to help our kids open new doors!

As always, we are grateful for your ongoing support. It means the world to us that you have helped us continue to grow and meeting the ever-evolving needs of these special children!

All best,

Lauren Fishbach, U.S. Board President , The Delia Foundation and Delia's Learning Center Co-Founder

Laura Larken, CEO, The Delia Foundation and Delia's Learning Center Co-Founder

David Conway, Trustee, UK Association of Delia's Friends and Delia's Learning Center Co-Founder

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It's been a struggle for many of our kids to communicate.  I too was at a loss for words when seeing their tears of frustration in trying to make themselves understood.

In rural Romania, there are few resources for autistic children who are non-verbal or have any level of speech disorders. From the moment we opened Delia's Learning Center in 2018, we wanted to hire a speech therapist.  With your assistance, we raised funds for a salary and then we searched for a qualified individual. We realized this would not be easy. Afterall, one of the reasons children on the autism spectrum are not educated is because of a lack of specialists, including speech therapists. This spring, we were finally able to hire a speech pathologist who has EVERYTHING that we were looking for and she began making an impact from her very first day!  

Co-Founder and Delia Foundation CEO Laura Larkin is back in Barlad this week and she has been amazed that some of the children have started verbalizing while others have made great progress in how they converse.

It's common for kids with autism to have sensory difficulties resulting in trouble with chewing their food or even liking how certain textures feel in their mouths. Taste, texture, smell or color lead to kids avoiding certain foods or food groups which can lead to health problems. At Delia's Learning Center we serve a nutritious mini-meal each week day to the kids. During meal time, our speech therapist and other staff work closely with the children as balanced eating is important for how they process information, learn and manage their emotions.

Your support has made a world of difference! I think you will really enjoy seeing the photos of our speech therapy in action!  (plus a photo of meal time).  We now have 36 children attending our Center!

With Gratitude,

Lauren Fishbach, U.S. Board President , The Delia Foundation and Delia's Learning Center Co-Founder 

Laura Larkin, CEO The Delia Foundation and Delia's Learning Center Co-Founder

David Conway, Trustee, Association of Delia's Friends UK and Delia's Learning Center Co-Founder

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A and teacher Gabriela
A and teacher Gabriela

How does an almost 7- year old child whose native language is Romanian, teach herself to read fluently in English and is now working on acquiring Japanese and Russian?  And, by the way, she taught herself to read in Romanian as she does not yet go to school.

We almost wouldn't have believed it, if we hadn't met "A" ourselves!   And YES, you read that correctly... I got to meet "A" myself.... in person !!    Delia Foundation CEO Laura Larkin and I were finally able to travel back to Romania, having gotten permission from the Romanian Consulate as a humanitarian aide organization.  In June, we spent two weeks  in Barlad and the surrounding villages that we serve, spending time with "our" kids and foster families.  We got to give hugs to the special children living at the orphanage and meet with the orphanage director to start new plans in helping her build out an indoor/outdoor play space for the kids. Laura and I also got to deliver food to and check on some of the families who receive emergency meal supplies through our organization. 

The highlight of our visits is always getting to know the children who attend Delia's Learning Center. We are continually amazed by them and how much progress they make with the loving, careful guidance of our team of psychologist, teachers, and new speech therapist.  "A" astounded us with her potential. Her unique abilities have been directed so that in the fall she is now able to attend school, while still receiving support from our staff. 

Diagnosed with being on the autism spectrum, "A" had a good deal of behavioral issues when she came to us and did not understand how to properly socialize with other children, other than her younger brother. Our teachers soon realized that her keen intellect and inquiring mind had no outlet or focus. Little by little, with a lot of 1:1 attention, "A" has begun to learn how to interact more positively with others. 

Still wondering how "A" taught herself to read and speak other languages? When asked, she says "tv, the tablet."

There is no explanation other than that her beautiful mind works differently than others!  We are thankful to be able to embrace "A"'s differences and help her and our other kids with autism to grow according to their needs.

Special Note: While in Barlad, a well-known journalist from the region's most respected newspaper came to interview us and learn about Delia's Learning Center. The link to the article is below and will open in English if you copy the link into Google Chrome! Please read!  

Wishing everyone a beautiful summer on behalf of myself and co-founders Laura Larkin and David Conway.

Psychologist Lidia working with siblings "M" & "V"
Psychologist Lidia working with siblings "M" & "V"
Co-Founder Lauren plays a matching game with "A"
Co-Founder Lauren plays a matching game with "A"
The power of a snuggle with Co-founder Laura
The power of a snuggle with Co-founder Laura
Many benefits of speech therapy for autistic kids!
Many benefits of speech therapy for autistic kids!

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People often ask about the challenges of running Delia's Learning Center in one of the poorest areas of the E.U.  Let me tell a story that will help you to understand some of the logistical hurdles but.. keep in mind the song "Aint no mountain high enough" is playng in the background.

Re-opening Delia's Learning Center in the midst of the pandemic posed a number of challenges. One of the biggest was HOW would our team be able to wear masks in compliance with Education Department guidelines and communicate effectively with our kids who have autistm or language-related disabilities.  Many of the kids were confused by the masks themselves at first, but there was the larger issue of them relying on seeing facial expressions fully.  The answer to this problem seemed simple: Use masks with a clear panel over the lips/mouth. But not so simple to find them in our in our Center's "neck of the woods."  So, we decided, "why not import them?"  With a speech pathologist's recommendation, we purchased the masks and shipped them off to Romania this fall.. and that's where their journey begin... our precious masks were held up in Romanian customs for three weeks and then rejected and returned to New York! No clue as to why!!  Our teachers and kids needed them so what to do? Ship them to England to our Co-Founder David Conway and have him send them off to Romania. (We knew shipping from the UK was easier). BUT then the UK went into a deeper lockdown and David was unable to get them shipped until late January!   A 3-month journey to ensure that our staff and kids can communicate better! 

 I am also sharing this story because we want our donors to know that we appreciate your financial support that made it possible to climb up that mountain to help our special kids learn and grow! 

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The Delia Foundation

Location: Anthem, AZ - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @deliafoundation
Project Leader:
Lauren Fishbach
Anthem, AZ United States
$14,710 raised of $18,000 goal
 
244 donations
$3,290 to go
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