Over the summer months, three Elmira girls – Gwyneth Findlay, Tricia Bauman and Natalie Hanley-Sadowski – are planning to visit orphanages in Romania as a way to open their hearts and support the children in the state-run institutions.
Romania is going through an orphan crisis, with close to 80,000 children abandoned, abused or displaced across the country.
The girls are travelling with International Teams Canada and will be running a day camp for children.
“The purpose of the ministry going to Romania is to teach the orphans family skills and life skills because the Romania orphanages are institutions and not homes – they do not pick up those kinds of skills,” said Findlay. “The idea is that the orphans will be able to raise a healthy family once they leave the orphanage.”
The trio will be heading to a camp near Cluj in the mountains of Romania with seven other volunteers for two weeks from July 22 to Aug. 6.
Last summer Findlay and her family went to Romania to work with children in the north-west part of the country. Working in a camp for two weeks they would perform morning exercises, read bible stories, play games and activities with the children from two nearby orphanages.
“Ever since that trip I always wanted to go back but I didn’t think it would be an option until I was 18 years old,” said Findlay, a 16 year old EDSS student.
Findlay was sitting down with her team leader earlier this year when she asked him if it would be possible if she would be allowed to go back to the country to volunteer even though she was underage.
“He said that as long as I had my parent’s approval and there were chaperones it was totally possible,” said Findlay.
Bauman, Findlay’s friend from school was on board shortly after.
“When (Findlay) came back from her first visit she couldn’t stop talking about her trip and it seemed like her life had changed. She was so excited about it and I always had wanted to do a short term mission trip and it just seemed to work out that we would be able to go together this summer,” said Bauman.
Hanley-Sadowski joined the trio with help from Findlay’s parents who work for International Team Canada as they set up interviews for the 18 year old St. David’s student.
“I always really wanted to get involved with something like this. I always thought it would be great to go on a mission trip,” said Hanley-Sadowski. “This is something that has been on my heart for a long time and I wanted to reinforce my faith at the same time.”
The trip will cost approximately $3,500 and the girls have held a a garage and bake sale where they raised $750. They are also doing some local support raising sending sponsor letters to organizations, friends, teachers and family.
As a team they are holding a Zumba class in Mississauga on June 9 to help raise money for the trip.
Anyone interested in supporting the girls can visit www.iteams.ca and search for the girl’s names to sponsor their trip.