The Art of Restoring Hope
Teofil, the Romanian man who painted this remarkable portrait of Christ, has battled schizophrenia most of his adult life. Because of the mental illness, Teofil had difficulty keeping friends and working, and ended up homeless and living on the streets for months at a time. Help came to him through the House of Solidarity and Hope Foundation, the humanitarian arm of the Iasi Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese. It provided a safe and caring place for a struggling man to express himself through art therapy and to discover that the gentle strokes of a paintbrush could help him cope with the debilitating symptoms of his illness. Now Teofil paints out of a rented studio, supports himself with the sale of his work and is taking medication for his condition.
|Volume 17, No. 2||Spring 2014|
Helping at-risk people like Teofil overcome life-limiting obstacles brought on by mental illness, alcoholism and substance abuse is one of many ways an IOCC program is helping to create more resilient communities in Romania. Working closely with the Romanian Orthodox Church, IOCC has trained 114 clergy, educators and social service providers in three dioceses – Iasi, Bucharest, and Craiova – to develop more effective administrative, financial and programming skills. Upon completion, the newly trained participants return to their parishes and social service agencies with a better command of how to provide guidance and support to families and individuals facing issues such as domestic violence, joblessness, and child abuse. This multi-year project, launched in 2009 with support from the Romanian Ministry of Labor, Family and Equal Opportunity and the European Social Fund, is one of the largest endeavors by IOCC specifically dedicated to strengthening the Orthodox Church's ability to respond to the needs of underprivileged Romanians.