I worked in-country with RCR on several projects as they were supporting the development of foster care and the extension of foster care to children with handicaps. The experience for my graduate social work students was always excellent and the in-country support for achieving goals is the best I experienced since going to Romania starting in 1991. RCR is the number one organization on my donation list and for events like birthdays and anniversaries, I ask my friends and family to donate to them rather than give me anything. This is a great organization doing wonderful things in Romania.
Fundatia Inocenti is an incredible organization, and I am so blessed to have been given the opportunity to work with them. Every day is a new surprise and a different challenge, but both the compassionate staff and courageous children make every day worth it. Whether we're struggling through a math problem, trying to understand impossible Romanian grammar, or feeding the tiny babies, I constantly feel like I'm making an important difference in the lives of the kids, and becoming a better person myself along the way. Would definitely recommend involving yourself with this amazing community of people.
This organization is truly phenomenal. They take such great care of the children and provide them with useful information that they will use for the rest of their life. The staff are not only wonderful teachers, but lovely people as well. I would go back and volunteer any day. It was truly a joy.
I was a graduate student in the US when I first heard of RCR - Fundatia Inocenti in 2005. In the mean time, more than 10 years passed and I moved my dreams of living in America, to give back to Romania! It's worth it because together with a great team we can do more as a group than I could have done it as an individual.
Happy to be back home for over 7 years and working for Fundatia Inocenti. I see success every day with every child and family we help. The seeds that we plant today will grow a better society!
I went on a child welfare service trip in 2012, and learned so much about the work RCR is doing! I enjoyed working with the staff and the children! RCR continues to make a difference, and continues to advocate for the Roma people!
RCR is simply an inspiring organization. RCR has and will continue to make such an impact on the most vulnerable children of Romania thanks to the incredibly smart, thoughtful, driven, dedicated, and energetic staff and volunteers.
RCR-FI is an incredible organization. I have been volunteering with them for 5 years. Their staff is well educated, empathetic, professional and extremely hard working. RCR-FI is thoughtful about their programs and resources. The teachers and therapists are wonderfully warm with every child who participates. The team knows the entire family and always tries to support them all. We traveled across country and were amazed at the outreach, warm and motivated staff members, and their dedication to always learning more (e.g. taking online classes for music therapy). I can't say enough great things about this organization and their founder and Executive Director.
I went on a service trip to a hospital in Bucharest through the RCR. It was a life changing experience. I learned about the culture and history of Romania and was inspired by their work in orphanages and hospitals. I will never forget this trip or the amazing work that the RCR does
It's been almost 10 years since I volunteered with RCR, but I went twice and loved both experiences! The work they are doing is important, heartfelt and sustainable- three of the keys to success internationally. The children are able to develop long-standing relationships, both within their community and with specific RCR supportive programs. I still think about "when I can return"!
I volunteered for Romanian Children’s Relief in 1999 then worked for RCR from 2000-2001. This was a time of great change for children in Romania, when the foster care system was being developed and implemented. Romanian Children’s Relief started the Me & My Family Together program to support children transitioning from institutional life into foster care. While many of the foster parents had raised children, they had not encountered the types of developmental delays and stereotyped behaviours associated with early childhood institutionalization.
This is where RCR came in, offering early intervention prior to and after the children’s time in the orphanage, education and support to help foster parents understand children’s development and needs, and basically anything that would make the placement work and help the children and families. At the beginning of the school year, RCR provided children with school supplies and in the winter they provided boots and coats. And children who left the institution with no language, not walking, and not making eye contact would make rapid gains in their development, blooming from the experience of being in a loving family.
Since that time, The Me & My Family Together and the two hospital-based programs have continued to evolve and meet the needs of children. The early years last forever, becoming imprinted in children’s development. The work of Romanian Children’s Relief continues to support optimal development and quality of life for the most vulnerable, for the innocents.
No charity could have more dedicated and competent direction than Mike Carroll and Eileen McHenry who, together, built this organization from its inception after personally experiencing the dire needs of the children they serve. I met Eileen in Romania in1990 where we were both adopting our daughters, and was an early volunteer when Mike, who had recently returned from writing a story on the horrific conditions in Romanian orphanages, invited a small group of people to his living room to brainstorm what we could do to help. After twenty-two years, RCR has grown into an organization that has served 2000 children with 500 volunteers. And even more impressive, the organization has developed a staff in Romania who deliver extraordinary services with equally great dedication. I have personally witnessed the excellence of RCR"s programs and continue to be inspired by the work of our staff on both sides of the Atlantic.
As a child, I did not have the benefit of an intact family, and always felt keenly the lack of a safe and loving home. I became a teacher and tried to "be there" for my students, but wondered if my help and support during the hour of high school I was able to interact with each youngster was quite enough. I was looking for a more hands on way to show my concern for the children of the world. After a Fulbright study tour of Bulgaria and Romania I came to Boston to teach, and decided to find a nonprofit working to alleviate some of the suffering I witnessed among the children in orphanages in Eastern Europe. I discovered that the story about the AIDS babies of Romania was announced first by a Boston photographer, and that he and his friends had started a nonprofit called "Romanian Children's Relief" which had been making huge inroads creating a Child Life program in Alfred Rusescu hospital in Bucharest. I went to see the executive director (no one on the board is on salary) and after many conversations, the agency agreed to let me take some high school students to work in their programs during our summer break. It was a huge undertaking--it was far away and the needs of these children felt overwhelming at first. What should we take for them? What kind of work could my students perform that would help, and would be appropriate? Would we be "in the way" or useful? Would we be so much work for the caregivers that it would only be a one-shot event? We have been returning there every year since 1998. The agency met us with caring and support at every juncture, and over time, we have become more independent as we plan our work visits. Other schools have joined our efforts, both high school and college students now visit the Bucharest site and their newer outpost in Bistrita. We hold and play with little babies who are developmentally delayed due to abandonment or neglect by their families. Poverty adds nutritional challenges to the lives of these babies. In the care of RCR workers and visitors, these children get the one on one attention that helps them grow. Many of the same caregivers we met that first year in Orphanage #1 in Bucharest, are still lovingly providing supportive care, stimulating play, and working to find foster care in country for these abandoned babies, many of whom are special needs cases. They are tireless, warm, knowledgable, and faithful. My students learn a myriad of parenting skills from them, as well as the virtue of what can be accomplished when the right motives and respectful interaction with a country's issues are central to one's efforts. Over time, RCR has changed, as the relationship with the Romanians deepened. The name is now "Fundatia Innocenti" demonstrating the infusion of Romanian energy, money, and infrastructure. Keeping children in family structures has now become paramount, so we can now do "home visits" to foster care homes as well as work in hospitals, schools, and group homes. Every time we return on our annual visits we are greeted as old friends, given meaningful work to accomplish with the children, and given updated information as to where our resources have been used most recently. Over a hundred student volunteers have traveled with me and my colleagues under the auspices of this wonderful charity, (and this is just from my one school!) We are kept abreast of the challenges and accomplishments of each year's work, and how the babies we have worked with have fared over the years. Some of the stories are sad; many are triumphs of spirit and dedication. Working with RCR has changed my own life in many ways, giving me a focus and direction for my interest in making a difference. They have trusted me, supported my work with students, helped me understand another culture, and given me hope that if one chooses a place in the world to concentrate on, I can see great changes if I am faithful to their mission. Romania is no longer a hopeless, helpless, grim sentence for tiny innocent kids. Americans cared, and learned to partner with Romanians who cared, and now there is hope. I have been privileged to be a small part of this agency's brilliant, purposeful work on behalf of the world's children, and I have been blessed by their willingness to work with what I could give as a volunteer. I will continue to work for them as long as I can be of use.
With the special occasions such as Olympics for children with disability of Innocent Foundation and the Charity Ball I had the chance to observe the parents joy and satisfaction seeing their children in the middle of the events. These children have the great opportunity through this kind of events to be remarked and helped by the community.
In my volunteer work I had known the needs of the abandoned children who participle to the literacy programs and through these they interact with the young volunteers and makes friendships.
I first met Romanian Children's Relief - Fundatia Inocenti when I was just a student in Boston in 2005. I had no idea that this NGO exists or that it does a great job working with children and families in Romania. As a Romanian leaving abroad at that time, I was impressed by the dedication of a group of people trying to help my country. When Eileen McHenry (Executive Director) asked for my help the first time I thought she was joking...I knew that every gesture can count and make a difference, but I didn't really experience it the way it happened in the U.S next with other volunteers regardless their age, profession and so on. I met extraordinary people during my staying in the US and my 3 years of volunteer with RCR. Upon my arrival at home, I had the privilege to join RCR-Fundatia Inocenti's team in Bucharest. What started as a temporary volunteer helping out in the office, turned to be a permanent job of helping children and families in need in Romania working every day with wonderful colleagues in Bucharest, Bistrita and Cluj. Today, we welcome volunteers in our program everyday and we count on their support to continue what others started many years ago. Thank you all!
I recently returned to Fundatia Inocenti in Bistrita with a group of 10 graduate students in social work as part of a service-learning class through the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work. The students had a wonderful experience, in terms of the service and the educational aspects of their time in Bistrita. The staff arranged numerous educational opportunities such as speaking to representatives from other NGOs and observing the Inocenti staff in action. The students enjoyed interacting with the children in the Placement Center and doing craft projects with the older children who participate in an after school program. When one of the students lost her passport, the staff went above and beyond to assist us in making arrangements to go to the embassy in Bucharest and subsequently driving the student to another city when the passport was found. In addition to all of this, the founder of Romanian Children's Relief, Mike Carroll, spoke to my class before we left for Romania, and the Executive Director, Eileen McHenry, is flying to Boston to attend our last class. I highly recommend volunteering with Romanian Children's Relief - Fundatia Inocenti.
I first thought about volunteering for Fundatia Inocenti after watching the documentary ‘Hand Held’. At the time of the film premier in Bucharest, my family had only been living in Romania for a few weeks but what I saw in the documentary was a story of hope and stubborn dedication in a situation that was desperate.
My volunteer experience is of working as a small part of the 'Child Life' Program in Bucharest. I have helped by playing and interacting with babies and hospitalised children in the playroom in Bucharest. This is a part of a wonderful program which aims to support, stimulate and improve the quality of life for these hospitalised and abandoned children.Dedicated trained professionals staff are an integral part of this scheme whilst the time and care of an expat volunteer like me is a small but vital part of the program. it is such a satisfying way to spend the morning; reading stories, building towers, singing songs and generally giving the babies care and love and attention. What have I and the other volunteers achieved? We have worked with the highly dedicated and caring staff in making these young lives a little better. We have created opportunities for stimulation and educational development for babies who have the misfortune of being hospitalized for prolonged periods of time. I know as a former teacher and mother just how important these early years are.
It is important in our transient expat community in Bucharest to ensure that the marvelous work of the Foundation is always publicized and known, locally and further afield. Through word of mouth, events, school based work experience and talks we can do that. We can raise funds to help sustain the programs and further expand them. It seems very little compared to the enduring and professional work of the staff. For this reason, I also went to Bistrita to further witness some of the work of the Foundation. I volunteered to help at the Special Olympics - an annual community event which celebrates the potential of children with disabilities. This is so important and again, I was overwhelmed by the dedication of the Fundatia Inocenti staff and the way in which they worked with the local people in creating an atmosphere of positivity and value for the children. My overwhelming impression afterwards was that the team of staff that Fundatia Inocenti has in Bistrita is a very exceptional one. The level of commitment, ownership, professionalism and dedication to the children was apparent in every single person that I spoke to. There is passion and enthusiasm for the programs and most importantly, a desire to improve and move forward. As a former UK Headteacher, I know that this is the key to success
there's no story is reality, when God decided that you have almost everything is only natural to offer others at least a little time of your life.
As a Romanian living in the U.S. for the past twenty years, I am very proud to see that volunteerism now is flourishing from within Romania and not only as in the past - from the Western countries to help Romanian children. The Fundatia Inocenti Volunteers are Amazing and have a very BIG HEART. Thank you for all that you do for the children in Romania. I hope that with fundraising and sponsors Fundatia Inocenti can expand to other cities within Romania. ALL THE BEST IN THE FUTURE! Florina Raducanu-Uyar
I traveled to Romania from the U.S. in 2007 and 2008 to volunteer for nearly a week at RCR. The experience was amazing! I had the chance to shadow their many service providers, who are incredibly dedicated. We did an art project for the center, creating colorful pieces to be hung throughout the areas frequented by consumers. We assisted the caregivers in the infant/toddler room and played with the children there. I was consistently impressed by the quality of the care being provided and the lengths to which RCR goes to serve children in need.
July 24, 2012 our service partner Romanian Children’s Relief/ Fundatia Inocenti welcomed us at the main headquarters in Bistrita. We met with the Executive Director, Marin Mic and his team where we learned about the history of the organization. After the international exposure of the orphanages during the end of communism, the organization was developed to address the debts that children and families paid for Chiosescu. Based on the needs of the communities, programs grew to address the problem of abandoned children in the hospitals, classes for new mothers, foster families and disabled children (early intervention). Outside of the programs, the NGO hosts two annual activities, the Special Olympics and a Charity Gala.
Following the introduction, the group divided into two where some students went to tour the hospital with Maria and Laura the Child Life Managers. They were able to visit the playroom for children in recovery and learn the responsibility of the Social Workers. Some even had the unique experience to see two of the five abandoned babies (3 who were premature and in the a different unit of care). It was heart heavy experience. Throughout our time the organization gave us great access to their personnel to learn from experts and opportunities to explore our personal interests. Also many of us enjoyed interacting with the children in a culturally sensitive way thanks to our great training and understanding of the programs.