Partnership with FCCA (Romania, 2001-5)

Partnerships

This project has been set up with the partnership of  Heart for Youth which is based in UK.

This is the first of our projects anywhere in the world and we supported the initial running costs of the Association (1 year start up grant).The Association in Romania now has independent funding from a churches in London & Singapore and family businesses in Romania.

The Association hopes to partner with other Christian organisations in Romania as well as around the world and also to work closely with City Council and the Child Protection Directorate in the city of Oradea.

Aim

 

  • To set up and run a Christian Family Home (caring for up to 10 children at a time) in the village of Livada de Bihor as an example to this and other villages
  • To assist families in our village to look after and/or adopt children
  • To be a resource and outreach centre for the community for adoption and foster care as well as partner organisations with interests in the future of Romania’s youth
  • To run a day/ community centre for Gospel outreach and Summer Bible camps to the youth of the village
  • To empower local youth by investing in them to enable help their own communities

 

How we came into existence

The Association was founded in Dec 2001 by Dr Eva Andrea Todos, a Romanian medical doctor so moved by the plight of an abandoned deformed 2 year-old girl in the state hospital where she worked, that she took the little Florina into her own care.

Over time, her whole family grew to love the little Florina and decided to start a family home. Her sister, Florica Todos, previously a sceptic about such a project, was so touched by Florina’s development due to the love of the Todos family that she donated her own plot of leased land as well as her entire life savings totalling US$5,000 to buy building material (which was initially meant for her own house) to the association to build the family house. She had originally intended to take 10 years to single-handedly build the family home. (Florina is now registered under Florica’s foster care as Eva is living with her husband in Cambridge, UK). (Updates on the lateFlorina’s blogsite)

This act of sacrifice inspired many people around the world and donations totalling US$10,000 were sent from Singapore and the United KingdomHeart for Youth was set up to support the Association by advising, setting direction and raising funds for the building of the family home in Romania as well as raising the awareness of the plight of orphans and the positive steps that Romanians themselves are doing to address this.

Why and what we hope to achieve (2002)

After the world’s eyes were opened to the state of Romania’s orphanages after the revolution, conditions have improved dramatically. However, while orphanages may be decent places to stay, they are not conducive environments for children to grow up in. Sometimes centres have up to 100-200 children; individual care and attention the children need cannot be effectively given by the over-stretched staff.

It is the Romanian government’s initiative to phase out orphanages and set up family homes with up to 10 children and run by a family. Two centres have been set up in Oradea, a city of 230,000 near the border with Hungary, with state help and these children are better prepared for adoption in families. Government officials have endorsed the Associations plans to build and run a Family home.

The current family homes are in the cities and children brought up in the cities find it difficult to adjust to life in the villages. Since 56% of Romania’s population is rural, it makes sense to raise children in a village and this is what we intend to do – build a family home in the village where the costs of living are lower and it can be self-sufficient.

Milestones (2000 – 2005)

2000 – A plot of land in the village of Livada de Bihor was leased by Florica Todos for her own house.
Jul 2001 – Using her own funds of about US$ 5,000 faithfully saved over a period of 10 years, Florica bought building material to build her own house and cultivated the land for her farm.
In 2005, this plot of land is worth $20,000.
Aug – Nov 2001 – After her family grew to love Florina, the abandoned girl in their care, Florica decided to donate her plot of land for the building of the Family Home and the US$5,000 worth of building material, plans and authorisations already invested by her to build the family home instead.
Dr Damian Yap who was in Romania at that time was impressed with her vision and sacrifice and promised to help support the Association and in partnership build the Family Home with them.
Dec 2001 – Dr Barbara Wensing visited Romania and saw the vision and dedication of the Romanian staff that she and Damian returned to London to set up Heart for Youth to support the Association as partners.
Mar 2002 – Together with Heart for Youth (H4Y) and their partners, Architects with Borders (AWB), Belgium, the Association put forward a propose to build and run a self-supporting family home with income from the farm. They also proposed ways in which they could help transform the economy of the village.
A successful study mission tom Romania by Eric Selies (AWB) and Margriet Wensing (H4Y) was conducted.
Jun 2002 – The joint venture found support with the government of the Belgian Province of Limburg who wanted to collborate with the Romanian district of Bihor using our project as a springboard.
Aug 2003 – The official dedication of the site of the Family Home was on 26 Aug and was attended by guests from the United Kingdom (London & Scotland), Belgium, Sweden and as far away as Singapore.
The Foundations, however, were not finished in time for the opening as the funds raised were insufficient.
A senior team from the Belgian government visited ths site but withdrew from the programme due the differing objectives of both parties.
Feb 2003 – H4Y initial funding (1 year start up grant) to the association comes to a conclusion, Florica uses her family’s funds and savings to not only continue the work of the Association but increase its range of activites. The association is grateful that God sustained them through a Romanian Foundation and two UK charities.
Barbara Wensing, Trustee of H4Y is posted permanently to Holland and has to be replaced as she would not be a resident of the UK.
Mar 2003 – Florica uses her visit to the UK to forge a partnership with St Mary’s Church and speaks to many advisors of Heart for Youth, diplomats, and officials while in London.
She is anointed by St Mary’s church as their partner in Romania and receives broad support from all sides for the building of the family home.
Apr 2003 – H4Y Trustee, Alison shows her encouragement for the Association by giving a one-off donation to the Association.
The Committee nominates Berit as replacement Trustee and Madaleine was consultant to Florica. They write to Free Children for their approval – this is granted by Florica.
Jun 2003 – A group from Yio Chu Kang Brethern Church, Singapore (Rtd Pastor Freddie Ho, Mrs Grace Ho and Dr Eric Yap) made a special trip to see the work of the association. They were impressed with the work that is being done and that the association is investing in the youth and has plans to be self-supporting. They have been supporting and will continue to support the Family Home project financially and in prayer.

Jul 2003 – Free Children organised a 3-day summer camp for 30-50 children and youth in the village of Livada de Bihor. This was conducted by volunteers from Free Children and Heart for Youth and funded by Kaitlyn, a 16-year old American high-school student from Kansas City who sent $100 to Florica for her ministry.

Aug 2004 – Free Children organised week long summer camp for 30-50 children and youth in the village of Livada de Bihor. This was conducted by volunteers from Free Children and Heart for Youth and St Barnabas Church, Cambridge.  For more info please this link.

Aug 2005 – Free Children organised a summer camp for 30-50 children and youth in the village of Livada de Bihor. This will be conducted by volunteers from Free Children and Heart for Youth and St Barnabas Church, Cambridge.  For more info please this link.

Founder receives Award from Singapore President

Heart for Youth Founder, Dr Damian Yap, received the SIF Award 2005 from President of the Republic of Singapore for his volunteer work in Eastern Europe since 1997.

End of Project report (AWB, BE – FCCA, RO) (2002)

 

End of Project report (AWB, BE – FCCA, RO) (2002)

Background

The Heart for Youth – “Free Children” Christian Association Project to build a family home in the village of Livada de Bihor was among the 20 projects submitted for partnership with the government of Limburg, a province in Belgium. The project was sponsored by Mr Eric Selis of Architects without Borders (Architect sans frontieres (Architecten zonder grenzen), Belgium).

Of the 20 projects, only four were chosen : 2 in Romania and 2 in Poland. Besides our project, the other project in Romania is a Charity shop run by a Christian charity.

Visits to Romania –

Sudy Mission – Easter 02

Eric Selis and team embarked on a one-week study mission to asses the social economic and political issues including information on local social networks that are in existence, the way the area is governed and integrate the other two projects (the christian charity and the worldshop). The visit was from 28-29 Mar 2002. Click here to see the photos.

 

Site Visit – Summer 2002

Eric Selies (AWB) and Margriet Wensing (H4Y Partner in Belgium) accompanied by Luc and Karin representatives from the provincial government of Limburg (Belgium) visited Romania from 23 – 29 Aug 2002. They met officials and programme partners in Romania and attended the foundation laying ceremony of the family home on 26 Aug 2002 in Livada de Bihor. More information about the submitted project is available from the AWB website in Flemish (link removed as it is outdated).

Conclusions – Aug 2002

Following the site visit by the Belgian Team, the Limburg government decided to withdraw from the programme in Romania and not to disburse the 53,000 euro budget allocated to us. No reasons were given but they had the following comments about our project and the way be run:

a.   We did not appear to provide a wide enough access and seemed to work only within a closed Christian community and not involve enough of the villageOur partners have letters of support from the village councillors and the Primar – all of who support the work of the association. They also received and continue to get financial and material support from families in the village and the church testimony of the support they receive.

We later understand that while there was unanimous support for the work of the association in the village, there were many reservations (justified and unjustified) about collaborations with governments. Neither Free Children nor the village were pleased with Heart for Youth’s proposals. They preferred to and continue to work their own trusted way which are bearing fruit.

b.    Our partners appeared to work only with friends and relatives. The President of Heart for Youth was also related to the Director of Free Children Christian Association. Our partners already have broad access but stand by their principle that they work with only honest, upright and trustworthy people since it is essential that they work with people they can depend on. The President of Heart for Youth has since resigned.

c.     The land on which the family home is to be built was on Florica’s name (This was on the advice of the lawyer) and a government cannot be seen to support an individual. We are seeking alternative legal advice as to the implication of transferring the land to the name of the association to which Florica donated it to. If acceptable, Florica has said that she will execute it but wants to ensure that the land and building actually get to house orphans, the purpose she donated the land for.

d.     There appeared to be a lack of a coherent executable plan and coupled with the inexperience exhibited by Heart for Youth, the project did not appear to be workable. Heart for Youth has since sought professional advice and will be re-structuring to ensure that we support our partners in Romania in the best way possible. The Director of Free Children Christian Association has accepted this as a postive step and tasked her UK partners to concentrate on their responsibility of raising funds for the building of the family home.

Free Children has unveiled their own long-term vision for the development of their ministry and generation of a steady annual income to support the running and expansion of their ministry in 2008. This has already received endorsements from several independent organisations. Their ideas have also been praised and being carefully studied for implementation by other charities in Romania and elsewhere as a model.

We thank the Limburg team for the invaluable advice and support in the planning stages. However, we regret but understand their decision to withdraw from the programme. Our partners, Architects without Borders did however express their belief that the family home will be built but regret that they could not help further. Florica has asked her UK partners to avoid future government collaborations but work with Christian NGOs and churches as they would be more understanding and familiar with the ethos, philosophy of and practical problems faced by her and her Association in their uphill task to reform an out-dated system by example and translate their Christian vision into practical ways to help the orphans and youth in Oradea and the village of Livada the Bihor.

Heart for Youth
Updated Jul 2003.