Happy Fall to All Our Loyal Supporters,
Frank and I recently returned from a visit to Romania and the Pro Vita compounds in Valea Screzii, Valea Plopului, and Valenii de Munte. We actually stayed in the Teen House/Social Center in Valenii de Munte, celebrating its one-year anniversary. It’s harvest season in Romania and all the Pro Vita kitchens are busy pickling and preserving vegetables and fruits for the cold days ahead. The storage closets are glowing with jars of vegetable pickles and red pepper and eggplant spreads.
As always, Pro Vita is super-busy with new arrivals — children, families, and elder citizens needing long-term living support. There are currently almost 500 “beneficiaries” supported directly by Pro Vita including several young expectant mothers. While we were there, Mihail got a phone call at dinner that a Good Samaritan was on the way the way to Valea Screzii with a mother and her four children who had been found in Bucharest living in their car for the past few months. Suddenly, a pleasant dinner was replaced by a series of phone calls to the manager at Valea Screzii to ready accommodations for this family, and the next morning was spent verifying their paperwork, registering them with the local government, etc. Unfortunately, dealing with these human emergencies is a way of life for the Pro Vita staff.
Another high school graduate has started university studies in Bucharest, joining several other Pro Vita young adults already several years into their studies. Mihail Tanase has also developed a strong relationship with a Bucharest restaurant owner who has taken a number of Pro Vita’s high school graduates into an informal training program for restaurant personnel. In general Romania is still experiencing a “brain drain” with a high percentage of high school graduates moving to Western Europe for work.
We were pleased to see that the walk-in refrigerator has been completed adjacent to the large home in Valea Plopului. This refrigerator now permits appropriate storage of all the donated dairy products from the local Danone factory as well as cold storage for donated fruits and vegetables. The elderly residents are happily ensconced in this large, safe house and receiving the full-time care they need. Several young mothers and expectant mothers also share this home.
Everything in Valea Screzii is going well with all the younger children well-cared for by the wonderfully attentive house mothers. Romanian supporters continue to be generous with their time and with in-kind donations of food, furniture, bikes, etc. The paved road in Valea Screzii has improved the opportunities for biking, roller-blading, etc. as well as increased the number of skinned knees and elbows.
The boys and girls now living Valenii de Munte are benefitting from the easier access to the high school, a much better elementary school, and the opportunity to participate in locally sponsored after school activities like music, dance, and art lessons. The Tanases have also hired part-time teachers who provide before and after-school tutoring to some of the children. The schools are all on double-sessions so there is plenty of time to benefit from the extra academic help and the chance to sample the arts. The building itself has been waiting for over a year for the installation of a three-way electrical connection which will finally permit them to hook up the commercial stove and exhaust as well as the commercial dishwasher. In the meantime, the flexible staff is making do with a small four-burner stove and doing large pot cooking on an outdoor wood fire as long as the weather holds. Although there are still some outside construction details (like paving the courtyard and the entry road) to complete, the materials are already on hand, the heating system works, and the children and their caretakers are enjoying the new building.
The anticipated demolition of the 1910 police station buildings and construction of the new buildings to allow expansion of the sewing enterprise and inauguration of the metal fabrication enterprise is still “on hold” due to various political and bureaucratic issues. Pro Vita is a finalist in a European Community grant competition to fund the acquisition of the computerized machinery for metal fabrication. Pro Vita’s proposal will offer job training opportunities to over 100 area residents, significantly expanding its economic impact.
Our funding raising for the construction is on-going and doing well. Mihail Tanase has been able to stockpile building materials from various donors in anticipation of government approval to proceed. With the onset of winter weather it seems likely that any significant progress will have to wait until next Spring. One of the more interesting donations is the large number of roof tiles donated by a former soccer star of the Amsterdam team who is building a very large home near the Social Center. An architectural change resulted in the roof tiles being unusable, and he was kind enough to donate them to Pro Vita. Once the demolition occurs, the Tanases plan to re-cycle the wood from the Police Station into a wood-fired summer kitchen at the Social Center, thus reducing the Center’s reliance on expensive electricity.
The new AFPVO website is still in development. We hope to launch it sometime in November. I will post all the pictures we took during our October visit at that time. We will welcome your comments on the refreshed design and various user options.
It was wonderful to re-connect with the children and the adults who remembered us from our June 2016 visit. One of the older residents was so excited to see her picture in our album of that visit.
As always, each of the sites is filled with happy and healthy children and adults — well-fed, well-cared for and, most importantly, loved by the caretaker moms, the staff, and one another. Every dollar you donate to AFPVO goes directly to sustain this amazing community. They and we thank you for your continued support.