Crystal Ehresman - General Care Projects in Romania
It feels like only yesterday that I was in the Medicine Hat Library writing my thesis and being generally bored with my life. But yesterday I was surrounded by 30 Romanian orphans who simultaneously exclaimed, "Multumesc Crystal!" (Thank you Crystal) and then broke into song!
It was a very surreal experience. I said, 'Nu nu nu, multumesc Canada!' because besides taking the money out of my account and doing the shopping I didn't have to do much of anything. Thanks again to all my Canadian financial contributors, it was the best day ever and the staff kept saying the kids will never forget it, I know I won't!
After work at the hospital, we would go to one of the orphanages to get the mini bus that took us to the park. We were allowed inside the orphanage and it was actually a very nice place. The kids immediately wanted to hug me and Sophie, another volunteer, and hold our hands. One kept kissing my arms and hands on the bus ride too! They were all so cute and very excited but VERY well mannered and behaved young boys. I expected a huge group of boys ages 8-14 to be rowdy but they were fairly reserved!
The weather was perfect and the driver even let us stay for an extra half hour and also contributed free juice for the kids. The kids went wild; the park was so fun (I would've played too!). There were trampolines, giant inflatable slides, giant inflatables for play-boxing in a ring, sand boxes, see-saws, etc. One of the little guys came running up to me, panting and out of breath; he grabbed my arm and breathlessly exclaimed, 'thank you!' and then went running back to the trampoline. He was so funny and sweet!
Inside there was karaoke and a dance floor where some of the older kids were playing. Christina, the Projects Abroad Romania project coordinator, came to grab me saying I had to see how happy the kids were inside. It was just unreal. I walked in to see these skinny, shaved headed, Romanian orphans with mismatched clothes just going for it out on the dance floor with moves that should be in an Usher video! They were doing back flips and walking on their hands. It almost looked like something from 'So you think you can dance.' They were even singing 'Poker Face' during karaoke, it was so cute!
We sent gifts back with the staff to hand out later (so the children wouldn't make a mess on the bus) but their eyes were as wide as saucers as we brought the gift bags and footballs on board. Before they all left they all said thank you and sang. It was too surreal for me to even manage 'your welcome' in Romanian. All I could do was smile and hug people because their gratitude was too much for me to handle.
This volunteer story may include references to working in or with orphanages. Find out more about Projects Abroad's current approach to volunteering in orphanages and our focus on community-based care for children.