|Volume 6, No. 3||WINTER 2003|
|SNAPSHOTS FROM THE FIELD|
Anisia-Flavia (right) holds her baby, Anisia-Maria, one of 196 children who have been successfully reintegrated with their families as a result of IOCC’s partnership with the Romanian Orthodox Church. Once again, Anisia-Flavia has the support of her own mother (left) in the raising of Maria. Photo: Stefania Epure-IOCC
Making the unimaginable possible
According to Romania’s National Authority for Child Protection and Adoption, a staggering 100,000 children in Romania are living in state care. The majority have been left by poor mothers and families who feel they cannot adequately provide for a child. IOCC and the Romanian Orthodox Church are implementing a project in three southwestern Romanian counties that helps women keep their babies and reintegrates abandoned children with their families. The project is supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the World Learning Foundation. Anisia-Flavia is now a “mentor mother” to other women who are considered at risk of abandoning their children. As a volunteer, she provides them with counseling and support. This is her story.
Drobreta-Turnu Severin, Romania (IOCC) “When my baby girl, Anisia-Maria, was born, I was scared. I didn’t think I could keep her because I was single and only 17 years old,” said Anisia-Flavia, now 18. “I was worried about what my family would say if they found out. So I left little Maria in the hospital.
“Some people from the Romanian Orthodox Church’s Social Assistance Office found out about my child and were determined to help her. A Church social worker named Stefania befriended me and helped me see that it was possible to keep my child.
“Thanks to the Church’s Social Assistance Office and IOCC, I can say now that I am a happy mother. I have stayed next to my little girl, even though I am rather young. With support from the Church, I get along better with my family, especially my mother. There is a warm atmosphere at home.
“Because of this support, I’m also finishing my high school studies in biology and chemistry in my hometown of Drobeta-Turnu Severin, and I’m learning to trust myself and other people again. Eventually, I hope to become a social worker.
“I understand now that my child’s life is more important than anything else. I would have never forgiven myself if I had lost my little girl!
“I realize that sometimes a good word means more than material support. That is why I decided to become a volunteer with the Church’s Social Assistance Office. I want to advise young mothers who experience what I did not to leave their children, offering myself as an example.
“Going out to their homes, I have seen a lot of children who live in hard conditions, but anything is better than abandonment. I try to offer their mothers counseling and support.
“I have a very beautiful little girl, and I cannot live without her. My daughter took her first steps on my 18th birthday. Imagine that I didn’t want to know her at first!
“I thank you and I am grateful to you, because otherwise I wouldn’t be here.”