Jo Cope - General Care Projects in Romania
I arrived in Romania on a cold, snowy afternoon in March. I felt very nervous and wondered what I was doing leaving the comfort of my home to come to this strange looking place. At the airport, after collecting my stuff, a friendly young man and another volunteer who had just arrived greeted me. After a short bus journey we arrived at the train station and chatted over some chips and a drink while waiting for our train.
Our train journey took around two hours. When we arrived we stuffed our backpacks into a taxi which looked like something from the 1970's and set off to our host family's houses. We dropped off Lindsay (the other volunteer) and by now I was feeling really scared. We arrived at a block of flats and got out of the taxi. We got into an old fashioned style lift and went to the top floor. We knocked on the door.
My heart was racing. The door opened and we were greeted by a lovely looking lady, her husband and her son. My host showed me around the flat and showed me my bedroom where I would be staying with Sabree another volunteer who had just arrived. We sat and chatted for a while then I went to sleep feeling a lot less scared. I was now quite excited about the next day.
In the morning Sirin (who works for Projects Abroad and who picked me up at the airport) picked us up from the flat and took us to the office in town on the bus. In the office I meet lots of other volunteers who had just arrived and some who had been there a while. Everyone was so nice and friendly. We walked around the town for a while, went for lunch and went home for dinner.
After a few days I started working at the orphanage with a few other volunteers. The children would all come running over to us each time we entered the rooms and were all in so much need of attention.
They all wanted picking up at the same time. We would work a 3-4 hour shift and after would be exhausted as the children, understandably, were very demanding. After our shifts we would often meet up in one of the many excellent bars for a few drinks and a chat. One day we walked half way up a mountain with the children from the older orphanage. We sat with the children chatting and eating lunch and taking in the amazing views. We had a good laugh as we were made to run some of the way down the mountain with a load of the energetic boys!!
We would meet up most, if not all evenings for a meal or drink or to celebrate people's birthdays and leaving parties for anyone going home. There are lots of good bars and drinks are very cheap. We had so many great nights out including karaoke which we went to every Tuesday.
On our weekends off we would usually travel somewhere else and maybe stay over night. We visited places around Brasov and places further away such as Bran castle, Sinia, Bucharest, The coast and Budapest in Hungary. Some people even visited Kiev in Ukraine and Istanbul in Turkey!! I was only supposed to be in Romania for four weeks, but I ended up cancelling my flight home and returning after six weeks and then went back again within three weeks of getting home.
I loved every minute of my time in Romania and would recommend it to everyone!!
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.