Today is a BIG day. We meet at 10:30am with the ovid.ro team in Rahova. This team is embeded in one of the poorest, gypsy (Roma) neighborhoods in Bucharest. This is very close to where our birth family lives.
We arrived at a large school that was empty due to Easter week holiday. The school grounds looked like a normal, urban school in America or Europe, albeit a little in disrepair. But, honestly this school is in pretty good shape and feels alive.
We went into the Ovidiu Rom (www.ovid.ro) office and were instantly greeted by Vera (Program Director), Catalin (School Mediator), and Dana (social worker). They were very warm and helpful, and we got to business quickly, American style. 🙂
They were prepared and pretty much knew what we needed to do. So, after we got to know each other and agreed that we wanted to work together, we headed off to Gina’s house with Catalin and Dana. Note that on the ride over, Catalin told me that he was Roma, and I got a short history of his background.
We arrived at Gina’s house and I was pleased to see Florin (13), Corina (17), Gina, and her oldest daughter Nicoletta at the home waiting for us. Unfortunately, Florin was crying and quite upset since his Mother had hit him because he would not take his eye medicine (for Herpes infection).
Note that we have been emphasizing the importance of taking care of his eye and clearly Gina is taking this seriously.
We had a fantastic meeting. Catalin and Dana knew exactly how to take the lead and make the family members comfortable. I was very impressed with the subtlety and sincerity that they exhibited. So, we introduced everyone, talked about the importance of school, and arranged for Dana and Catalin to meet with Gina and family next Tuesday (to assess and design programs).
Note: The Ovidiu Rom (http://www.ovid.rom) program started by Leslie Hawke and Maria Georghiu focuses on two very specific areas: 1) getting kids to school, and 2) teaching women to be more independent. A perfect match for the Bunea family!
So, the morning was a great success! I feel like these folks are as good as it gets and the Bunea family is in good hands. Finally, something good happened. Note that I really had a strong connection with Catalin, since he speaks perfect English and just feels right to me.
After a lunch at City Grill, Mariana and I headed to IKEA–just opened in Bucharest and quite the rage–to buy lots of cool new furniture for the family. But, as in all my IKEA experiences, I quickly became mesmerized by the Swedish consumer experience and drifted into confusion and indecision. 🙂 This happens to me EVERYTIME I go to IKEA, even in Romania. About halfway through, it became clear to me that we need to do First Things First. So, rather than buy a bunch of furniture (e.g bunk beds, convertible sofas, etc.), I decided to get the house design figure out first and THEN get furniture to fit it. Oh well, Mariana did buy some stuff and it was not a total waste of time.
We went across the parking lot to a Romanian “Home Depot” looking for a small septic tank for the family so that we can replace the “closet of hell” with something cleaner. Unfortunately, they had everything, but a septic tank. 🙂
We then went for beer before a major grocery shopping extravaganza. As we were walking to the mega-grocery store, a fashion show started in the middle of the mall. See photos. 🙂 After a long and often querlulous shopping trip, we headed back to my hotel. On the way back, Mariana and I had a heated debate that erupted into a full-scale argument. I’m not sure what we were arguing about, but I think it was my complaint that she was making too many decisions before the facts were in. We separated quite upset. I called Heather and she talked me down. 🙂