We grow together
Landing finished, the wheels roll quickly and the speed decreases. Here we are. Hurray!
I love to fly but that anxiety of the first flight never leaves me.
Here we are: Otopeni International Henri Coanda, Arrivals.
After a couple of hours I'm on the bus on my way from Bucharest to Panciu. From the window the road runs fast, the landscape returns to being familiar to me as if I were here the day before. And it is nice to see the Romanian countryside. In summer it is decorated by large coloured sunflower’s fields.
After 3 and a half hours of travel, on time, we arrive in Panciu. I take my big suitcase plenty of different things that people gave me knowing I was going to Panciu: carnival costumes, sweets and Italian coffee for the staff and volunteers.
I get off at the so called "Notar" (Notary) bus stop, because it is just opposite the notary's office. The statue of Ioan Slavici with the serious look is in its place in front of the school and on the other side of the street I see the "Piata", the market and shopping area, with benches crowded with Roma families who frequent the Pinocchio Center.
The children are the first to crank their necks with curiosity. Someone came from outside. Then the mothers, aunts, grandmothers, brothers and cousins, and the other indefinite relatives turn and talk to each other with their eyes turned towards me. A few hands rise and say hello. I greet too.
Someone gets up and starts crossing the street to come and see more closely, always the children are the first.
The questions begin: who are you? Your name is… Linda? And another suddenly intervenes "ba nu este Federica".
And I am amazed to see how much the children have grown up. Fernandito (little Fernando) is now taller than the elder Fernando. So, now I realize that a year and a half has passed and in between there has been, and unfortunately there still is, a pandemic.
And while other questions follow one another “How long are you staying? Why were you away? Do you remember of this person and the other one? ", the volunteers of the Lumea lui Pinocchio association arrived. The kindly came to welcome me at the stop.
Right now the Romanian staff is helped by a nice team of 7 volunteers from different countries: Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal and even Bangladesh! Some of them arrived in October 2020 others more recently in March 2021.
Every day the volunteers help to serve lunch and snacks, they invent games and workers every day.
During the school period they supported the children in distance learning. Many children who attend the Pinocchio Center have no computer or internet at home, and they are not supported by their parents. For them, the Pinocchio Center was the only chance to not lose the school.
Jade, a French volunteer who arrived in Panciu last October 2020, saying that: "In June we prepared a show with them, with dances, theatre. They presented to their parents. Everyday we propose different activities to help the children to learn new things, based on a thematic: on Monday it's creative, we do origami, paintings; on Tuesday, we organize workshops about different important topics (bullying, violences, body consent, team work). Sometimes we use short movies to start to talk about a subject that the movie is about. Wednesday it's sport, we play games all together in the garden, we try to create a new game each time, where they have to run, use a ball, and cooperate. Thursday its strategic games. They played treasure hunt, labyrinth. And on Friday we do life-skills activities like gardening, sewing, cooking. We also try to promote healthy food and we cook different fruit-based recipes. "
My 10 days in Panciu run very fast into an atmosphere of reborn serenity, meeting the children at the Pinocchio Center, playing with them and with the smiling, generous and welcoming volunteers and staff. I came back to Italy together with a young volunteer who finished her 11 months of Voluntary Civil Service, she arrived in Panciu at the end of September 2020.
In her final report she wrote: “I'm Gabi, I'm 27. Thanks to IBO I was able to realize one of my dream: to have an experience abroad like the one just ended in Panciu. At the Pinocchio Center I worked with Roma children (approx. 4-13 years) with disadvantages, unfortunately. Illiteracy is widespread. Even more serious, however, is the lack of care.
Among the families of the children that attend the Pinocchio Center, we often face another important social problem: the alcoholism. And when this problem occurs, children are left behind, and even without food, due to economic difficulties or negligence.
Me together with the other volunteers and the staff of the Pinocchio Center have worked and are working, to help those children have a better future and at the same time to break down the rooted thought of prejudice towards them.
In these months I have had the opportunity to carry out many different recreational / educational recreational activities with children with the team of volunteers, the educator Oana and Mihai the coordinator, but also didactic activities to try to fill the serious basic gaps: knowing counting, doing simple math operations, learning letters and reading. Each activity is designed to develop a specific area; example: sensory-motor area: movement, outdoor sports activities; sensory area: develop the 5 senses; emotional area: knowing one's emotions and then becoming familiar with them, through the theatre.
The work of the Center is very important for these children as they need a safe place suitable for them, where they can find the support they need, care, attention, and at least one meal a day.
I think in this way they can have a future - in the future. "
I return home thinking that generosity really can change the world. I really THANK YOU because you believe in this project and support it.
Thank you for being part of this wonderful team which, despite the efforts, the fear of uncertainty about tomorrow, we believe that by helping children we can build a better future.