Little John’s House Newsletter | Summer 2012
In this issue: The Difference a Family Makes
Looking Forward and Back at Little John’s 20 years on Believe it or not, this year marks 20 years since I first went to Romania! (I don’t feel that old!) Whenever Liviu and I visit now we talk about how much things have changed – or not, in some cases! There have been some incredible changes over the years and then other things that have not changed at all and we find it very interesting seeing the differences. The centre of Sibiu has been modernised and is a beautiful city centre. The shopping malls outside the city have shops from all different nationalities to suit every taste – if you have the money to spend in them. You can find most things there now – at a price! In fact, at first glance, Sibiu would seem to have changed into any other European city – it is only when you know what is going on in the background that you realise it is just an image and, in fact, life for the majority is very different to the people of most other European cities. When I first went to Romania, most people lived a very modest life, based on very little income and also a very limited amount of items available to buy. The shop near me used to sell peas one week and jam the next week, but nobody seemed to mind and everybody helped each other by telling them when a particular shop was having a delivery, or even standing in the queue for hours on end for their neighbour. However, with the emergence of more and more shops and products on offer, people now strive for a higher standard of living whether or not they can afford it, whilst treading on each others’ toes to get there. Is this progress?
See How Far We’ve Come
The Future – Phase 2
Little John’s Day
The difference a family makes! Whilst we were contemplating the changes in Romania on a recent trip, it was also great to take a moment to realise the changes that have happened at Little John’s House over the years. It is easy to forget how it all started and how far we have come and we tend to just take it for granted that it has always been the way it is now, but looking back is quite revealing!! When Mum and Dad first bought 186 Cisnadioara, it was just an average village house with a barn and a long empty garden, at the end of a rather pretty but rundown village. Many teams of lovely people have helped turn it into the haven it is today with its bright coloured walls and lovely paved courtyard; not to mention the exciting playground to be found beyond the Summer School building and volunteer accommodation! I suspect that to the critical eye, there are many things that could be done to improve the buildings even now(!) but the truth is that wonders have happened in that location and it could not have happened without the help of lots of you – many hundreds of volunteers have slept in the barn and provided hours of endless fun and care to hundreds of children each year; children have found a family and a caring home to spend their childhood and realise their potential; some of them are still with us, whilst others have moved on to different things; ordinary people from the village have been transformed into caring staff who are willing to fight for the rights of these children and overcome day to day battles against authorities that do not even pretend to try and understand their needs. Quite truly amazing! Yet none of it could have happened without your help! Thank you!
See how far we’ve come…. Costica We first met Costica 20 years ago, when I volunteered at one of the Orphanages in Sibiu. He couldn’t stand up in those days and we were forbidden from taking photos of him because he was deformed. His legs were like frogs legs, pointing out the back if he tried to sit down and had no strength in them if you tried to stand him up. Hard to believe that the Costica we have now is the same person really – the man who loves helping outdoors; goes to the shop to buy bread; rides his bike with pride and enjoys nothing better than winning a good water fight! Costica is now 22 and by rights he should be preparing to leave us, but other than to return him to the state institution that is too overcrowded to take him anyway, there is nowhere else for him to go. He has been with us since he was six.
Iulia and Andrada Julia and Andrada have also been with us since they were small, when they lived with Mum, Dad and older sister in a tiny flat, with nothing to play with except a yogurt pot and a hairbrush. Mum was so poorly that she could hardly lift them and Dad died whilst they were still quite young. They have come a long way since then and the ladies have done amazing work with them – especially the year when Iulia spend months with her eyes shut! The twins Mum is even more poorly now and cannot even come and visit the girls. They still need full time care and always will do, but there is no other place that would take these girls.
See how far we’ve come…. Ana Maria Anamaria came to us two weeks before her fifth birthday and the staff could not believe how small she was, or how her tiny legs could hold her up. Now, at 15 she is a very large presence in the house and at school, where she drives everyone round the bend with her never-ending chat! The school she attends is the only ‘special’ school in Sibiu, but the education is no more tailored to the needs of the children than at any other school, so Anamaria doesn’t manage to learn very much, although she thoroughly enjoys the bus journey – sadly, the same could not be said for the bus driver!
Laur Laur has been with us for 10 years, since he was four. At that time, he ate no solid food, simply because the only food to be given him in the Orphanage was mush. The ladies worked very hard to overcome this problem, but they got there in the end and now Laur takes great pleasure and interest in all foods. Laur is now in full-time main-stream education and is doing really well. He still has very poor eye-sight, but this never stops him making the most intricate Lego models of his dream house, complete with swimming pool and balcony!
Vlad Vlad, at 11, was our oldest newcomer. He has now been with us for 3 years and has changed dramatically. He has gone from being a traumatised little boy who couldn’t even bear to look at you, to an all singing, all dancing entertainer! Vlad still has times when he hits himself and he struggles without the element of verbal communication, but he manages to get his point across when he wants to and is now putting on weight, which is real progress for him. The ladies have dealt with Vlad’s behaviour with no specialist training and have done a remarkable job in caring for this very disturbed boy and giving him the support of a loving family.
The Future: Phase 2 At a recent Trustees meeting, we decided that since these six children and young people have grown up as a family it would be tragic to split them up now, so the exciting news is that we have decided to embark on a new project! We are aiming to buy a piece of land and build a new building to house the adults and the children that now make up the family at Little John’s House! The plan will include a small farm for the adults to work and many other features! It is a huge plan and at this stage we have no idea how we are going to achieve it, but we believe that we should still look after the family as they grow older and so we feel we must keep fighting to care for them in the best way we can. For this dream to happen, we will be asking for your help more than we have ever done before, since you are part of what has made this possible up to now! So, if you have ever wanted to run a marathon; climb a mountain; shave your head or stay silent for a while, we would love to hear from you – this could be your time to make a real difference to the family at Little John’s! We will, of course, keep you posted as and when we have more details, but in the meantime, we would value your thoughts on any fundraising ideas you might have.
Little John’s Day on 15th October, Ionut (Little John) would have celebrated his 23rd birthday and to remember the beginnings of Little John’s House, we would like to invite you to join us for ‘Little John’s Day’. Why not join with us in hosting a sponsored event, holding a dinner party, coffee morning, afternoon tea, jumble sale, quiz night or coming up with any other intuitive idea for fund-raising. The aim is to get people all over the country (or even further afield) raising money at the same time. Send us your ideas and we will advertise them for you on the Facebook Little John’s House Appreciation Society page or on our Website www.littlejohnshouse.org – the more interesting the idea, the more publicity we will try and generate! The challenge is on, but we can’t do it without your help!
Fabulous news! In the last couple of weeks we have had an amazing time! Vlad was finally operated on by a lovely team of British surgeons and looked after by their nurses. The operation went well and his recovery is coming on slowly. We know there will be rough times ahead as he tries to get used to his new mouth, but we are thrilled that the waiting is over for this part anyway! Our thanks go to two of our special Trustees – Dr. Mary Cusack, who made initial contact with the team of surgeons and made the whole thing possible and Beth Yorath who gave up her time to accompany Vlad and give some welcome relief to the staff when the going was really hard. I am sure that Beth could tell you a whole host of stories about the Romanian hospital and how they were treated there, but ultimately, we are so grateful that Vlad now has the chance of eating, drinking and speaking as he should. Thank you for all your support at this time – it really has been appreciated .
Trustees If you would like to find out more about ‘Little John’s House’, or to discuss fundraising ideas, please do not hesitate to contact any one of our trustees: Liviu Zaharia (Devon) [email protected]
Beth Yorath (Bucks) [email protected]
Dr. Mary Cusack (Leics) [email protected]
Jo Gresty (Notts) [email protected]
Peter Davey (Notts) [email protected]
Rod Fry (Dorset) [email protected]
Richard Fry (Dorset) [email protected]
Ruth Fry (Dorset) [email protected]
David Chedgey (Hants) [email protected]
Marianne Chedgey (Hants) [email protected]
Hannah Pugh (North) [email protected]
Tilly & John Kimber, Church End, 12, New Street, TORRINGTON, Devon. EX38 8BN. Tel: 01805 938227 Email: [email protected]
Please reply to: Mags Zaharia, 107, Well Street, TORRINGTON. Devon. EX38 7BN. Tel: 01805 623474 E-mail: [email protected]
New Fundraising Tool! Orphan Aid – Little John’s House now has an online fund-raising facility with Virgin Giving. If you are looking at organising an event, or sponsoring someone else who is doing one, please look us up! Simply type in Little John’s House into the charity search bar and we will appear with a page like this: