Donna and Frank have returned from their visit to Pro Vita in early November. Lots of news as this was the first Board member visit in over a year.
Status of Ukrainian Refugees
The population has stabilized with all the Valenii de Munte and Posesti properties filled to the gills. The elderly are enjoying the expanded chapel in Valea Plopului although their resident chaplin,Fr. Roman. recently had surgery and is recovering. His two teenage/young adult sons accompanied him from Ukraine as did a number of caregivers who still remain with their 35 charges. Fr. Tanase has begun a project to convert the lower level of the house into a dining room so the ambulatory residents will be able to take their meals in common.
The teenagers who were re-located from the institution in Kiliya, Ukraine and a dozen who came to Pro Vita after a year in a Romanian institution in Bacoi are enjoying life in the Social Center and the re-purposed Admin Center in Valenii de Munte. The teens who were in Bacoi are more challenging to manage than those who came directly from Kiliya.
Most of the teens, including the girls living in Posesti, are attending the Special Education school in Valenii with a few teens accepted as students in the local high school.
Teachers and aides from Kiliya are still rotating to Pro Vita for 6-8 week stints. Evgeniyy, a French and PE teacher at Kiliya who was in residence at Pro Vita when we visited in October 2022, has returned and is supervising the 10 boys and girls living in the former Admin Center. One of the current thorny issues that the Tanases are dealing with is the Ukrainian government’s desire to have all the refugee children return to Ukraine and Kiliya. Because enrollment at the Kiliya institute is down, teachers are only being paid a fraction of their pre-war salaries and thus are agitating for the return of the young refugees to Ukraine. Mihail is in discussions with the UN and the Romanian government to keep the children at Pro Vita while the war continues. Kiliya has re-opened as a non-residential facility and “Bunkers have been built” to protect the students.The older teens are divided on the issue of returning which is causing increased anxiety among the teens.
The U.S. Sesame Street Corp. created a Ukrainian version of Sesame Street and Pro Vita was able to get a contract to make it available to the Ukrainian teachers and students.
Two Romanian girls are studying for the BAC to be taken this summer with university attendance contingent on their success. Miradora is in her third year of medical school in Bucharest and Christina is also at the university, studying economics after successfully passing her BAC last summer.
The playground has been cleaned up and broken equipment repaired/removed. The fund-raiser activity, 4Wheels4Children, did not raise enough money to completely renovate the playground. The common room above the dining room is filled with donated books in Romanian and English as well as a keyboard for musical exploration. Tutors continue to work with the younger children who need extra help with academics.
The Social Center
It’s fully occupied with a mix of Romanian and Ukrainian children and teenagers. The Romanian twins, Christina and Nicoleta, will be 10 years old in April and are still bossing everyone around.
Tutors are coming several days a week to provide extra help at all academic levels.
The courtyard and the exterior corridors have finally been paved and look fantastic!
The new house that will be built adjacent to the Social Center is back in the local review and approval cycle. New regulations require a third bathroom to be included while the overall footprint of 175 meters must be adhered to. Very frustrating that we are back to Square One.
After a several year hiatus, Pro Vita will have its first group of United Planet (UP) volunteers in January 2024. Fingers crossed that this group of university students will prove to be an asset to the Valea Screzii community as UP does provide some income to Pro Vita.
AFPVO has engaged a professional developer to refresh our 10 year old website while Melanie Tanase is trying to find the time to update the aged Pro Vita website. For any of you that are Facebook visitors, Asociata Pro Vita Valea Plopului often features postings of activities at Pro Vita, like the recent celebration of Romanian National Day.
US Embassy Visit
The recently appointed Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM), who is of Romanian heritage and Orthodox, visited Pro Vita to learn more about it. We hope there will be continued contact and support.
There were several county-wide “inspections” that required hours of the Tanases’ time copying and submitting months of accounting records. Resulting recommendarions were allminor.
There will be a Christmas choral concert in Bucharest to raise money. The teen girls have already started practicing and a performance site has been donated.
The significant drop in Romanian cash and in-kind donations, as well as the cessation in May ’23 of the very limited Romanian government support for the refugees has really stressed Pro Vita’s ability to pay its bills. Frank and Donna with Fr. Sean’s agreement have forwarded $20,000 to pay the overdue heating and electrical bills as well as bring all the salary payments up to date, leaving the Tanases with a small financial cushion going forward. We hope that all our donors agree with this decision. The continued residency of the Ukrainian refugees and rising economic costs have increased the monthly expenses for Pro Vita to over $1000/day. Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of the U.S. Ukrainian Orthodox Church, AFPVO has enough money to cover the construction costs of the new house — when it is approved. Mihail has been storing many of the needed construction materials on site for months.
Thanks to all our recent donors: Wendell B. (monthly), Ho K.(monthly), Cristian T. (monthly), Narcis A., Tony C. and Phyllis S..
We missed reminding you about Giving Tuesday but encourage all of you to include AFPVO in your end of year charitable donations. The need is great and if everyone reading this became a donor, AFPVO could ensure that the outstanding work done by Pro Vita could continue on sound financial footing. PLEASE BE GENEROUS!
Thank you all for your continued support. HAPPY HOLIDAYS
Fr. Sean Cavanaugh, Chairman
Donna Shelton, President
Frank Doe, Secretary/Treasurer
Kerry Garikes, Communications & Design
Donations may be made to PayPal, PayPal Giving Fund.org or checks to AFPVO sent to:
10518 Rosehaven St., Apt 306
Fairfax, VA 22030