Give children the chance to smile
The plight of Romania's orphans rocketed to the world stage in the early 1990s, when undercover reporters found children kept in unimaginable conditions. Over the past two decades significant donations and international aid has dramatically improved the lot of these kids- but there is still a long way to go.
It is estimated that 60,000 children are still in care in Romania, with up to 1000 more abandoned each year due to rising financial pressures. Unfortunately, the world recession has led to a decline in international funding, and volunteers are now more important than ever.
Oyster works with Brasov's childcare department to provide volunteers to help at various childcare facilities, including family homes, orphanages and children's wards. Abandoned by their parents at a young age, it is important that these kids have access to role models; without the external help of loving and enthusiastic volunteers, some children will never receive the affection, support and joy of a typical childhood.
Volunteers help at a variety of childcare placements, working with sick, abandoned and disabled children. These places are extremely inspiring, with many happy children who are just wanting to play. Whilst toys and staff are limited, having a positive attitude and a love for play is a must to help bring these kids the childhood that they deserve.
How can I help the kids?
The childcare system in Romania is vast. Oyster works with different family homes, hospitals, schools and orphanges in and around the city of Brasov. The placements are spread across different areas, helping with either orphaned, disabled or mentally ill children. Each placement is extremely rewarding, and we will take you on a tour at the beginning of your stay so that you can choose which suit you best.
- Family homes: Family homes are small, dedicated orphanages which provide a home to up to twelve children. These facilities are usually divided into girls homes, boys homes and homes for children with disabilities. The kids that live here have been abandoned by their parents, unable to provide the care that they need. They lead a life as integrated into society as possible: attending school, helping with chores in the homes, playing with their friends, doing their homework and generally being children. Volunteers help the kids with their homework, get involved in their games, read with them, get them outside playing football and running about, and become their friends. These are inspiring placements, bringing much joy to the children's lives.
- Children's hospital play therapy: The children's hospital is a lovely place to work. The English-speaking staff love having volunteers, as it gives them more time to interact fully with the children in their care. As many of the kids here have been abandoned, they don't have their parents to care for them whilst they are unwell. Your role is to engage them in games, arts and crafts and other fun activities so that they can have a speedy recovery. Many volunteers help on the neuropsychiatry ward, with young kids with mental difficulties or behavioural problems.
- Teaching: Teach your passions from English to art to young children in kindergarten and primary schools. Knowing English is a great start in life for the kids, so they will be delighted to meet you!
Oyster also sends volunteers to help in the medical side of childcare, offering a helping hand to the staff whilst learning about patient care. This is an amazing opportunity for people seeking to gain some experience before, after or during university, or if you are looking to share your expertise later in life.
- Recovery Centre: The Recovery Centre provides care and medical supervision for children with disabilities, from massage and infrared therapy to hydrotherapy and Kinesiology, from speech therapy to psychotherapy. Socialising is one of the key tasks of the volunteer, encouraging play and interaction with each other. Volunteers can help out in the different types of therapy, mainly on a watch and learn basis, but the knowledge gained here can be expanded to other areas of the care.
- Downs Syndrome Centre: Help out with play therapy and stimulation at this therapy centre. The Down Syndrome Centre is looking after 21 people aged between 3 and 34, helping them with social integration, speech therapy, Physio and very importantly – active stimulation. You can help and oversee all aspects of the centre, but the specialist emphasis is on how important is to get involved with the people there – initiating arts and crafts, singing and dancing. They are particularly keen for anyone who loves to dance to get involved with dance therapy.
You fly in to one of the two Bucharest airports where you will be collected by Razvan. The drive from Bucharest up to Brasov takes about 2 -3 hours. On arrival in Brasov Razvan will help you to settle in and take you out for a welcome dinner.
You will have a couple of days to visit the various projects and have an orientation tour around Brasov with Razvan.
A perfect English speaker and probably the most dynamic person you will ever meet, Razvan has run our Romania programmes since 2003. A veteran rep - he has dealt with over 200 volunteers so far - he always goes way beyond his Oyster job description, organising wonderful trips (to Dracula’s castle and the Black Sea among others) for participants. He was personally involved in the fundraising and subsequent building of one local orphanage and champions both the bear sanctuary and children’s homes.
It doesn't matter if you're a short or long-term volunteer, you still get full support from Razvan, whose aim is to ensure that you have a happy and productive time in Romania.
You will be based in Brasov living in a comfortable, central flat that Oyster will rent for you and your fellow volunteers. Please expect to share a room. The flat is large with plenty of space to relax and unwind after a day out and about. Wifi is available, but you will need to bring your own device to access it on.
There is a fully equipped kitchen so you can cook for yourself or treat yourself at one of the many delicious and affordable eateries in the city centre.
The flat is located a few minutes walk from shops, bars and restaurants and is a great base for exploring the city.
Cost And What Is Provided
The cost of a 1 month placement in Romania is: £1495, excluding flights Each additional week costs £100 for longer placements (very much encouraged!)
What is Provided?
- Phone or face-to-face interview & informal briefing
- Placement information covering care work issues and placement advice
- Help and advice from our UK office before and after departure
- Finding you a suitable volunteer placement, organizing your accommodation, liaising with our contacts in Romania
- Transportation to your accommodation from the airport.
- Accommodation costs in a shared central apartment.
- Assistance and support from your representative whilst on your placement including regular social ‘meet ups’
- Thorough orientation and basic Romanian language guide
- Donation to projects
- EU VAT at 17.5% on UK cost elements
- Tour of Brasov
- Weekend trips to Dracula's Castle, Rasnov Fortress and Sinai monastery
- Free access to InterHealth's Travel Health Advice Service
- Free myTsafe secure document storage account - worth £39!
What do I need?
- A passport valid for 6 months after your planned return
- Insurance (we can recommend a specific policy)
- Flights to Bucharest. We can help organise these.
- Cost of changing your return flight date if you need to (approx £30)
- Independent travel costs and cost of journey to airport at end of placement
- All home country travel costs (to airport and interview if face-to-face)
- Medical tests before departure (expect to pay a fee to your doctor)
- Criminal Record Bureau check (approx £40)
- Cost of food and going out (£25-£50 per week dependent on lifestyle)
- Cost of bus transport to reach family homes (approx £20 for one month)
- Cost of getting back to Bucharest at the end of your placement (minibus is approx. £10)
One more thing...
Brasov is home to the first Romanian School and to what is said to be the narrowest street in Europe!