For the past twenty years, I have been associated with Heart of a Child (Inima de Copil), a non-governmental organization (NGO) in Romania. An NGO is what we in the United States would call a non-profit.
Heart of a Child is an organization that serves poor, homeless, and handicapped children, including children with HIV. For the past two years, I have been blessed to serve on the board of directors of Heart of a Child’s American informational and fundraising arm, Heart of a Child-US (HOCUS).
Heart of a Child runs on a small, very lean, annual budget. Each year, they do a tremendous amount with relatively little money. This past year was especially challenging. When Russia attacked Ukraine beginning in February 2022, kicking off a bloody, unprovoked war, refugees from Ukraine began flooding into Romania.
Heart of a Child is located in Galati, Romania, on the eastern side of the country, near the border with Ukraine and Moldova. In fact, Galati is only about 220 miles from the Ukrainian port city of Odessa, the fifth largest city in all of Ukraine. Galati and Romania welcomed the Ukrainian refugees with open arms, helping them find food and shelter upon their arrival.
However, life has not been easy for the Ukrainian refugees. Most arrived with just the clothes on their back. They had little money, nowhere to live, and they didn’t speak the Romanian language. The government helped shelter them, but most of their other needs were met by NGOs, including Heart of a Child.
This past summer, Heart of a Child took more than 80 Ukrainian children and their parents to a summer camp in the mountains near Galati. A week away at the camp allowed the Ukrainian refugees to put their troubles behind them, if only for a short time, to enjoy nature and each other.
When school started in August, Heart of a Child provided more than 200 Ukrainian children with backpacks filled with school supplies. Staff from Heart of a Child also worked with the refugee children on their school assignments and their language skills.
And keep in mind, the work they have been doing with Ukrainian children is in addition to all of the great, important work they are doing with poor, vulnerable Romanian children. I’ve seen first hand the conditions these kids live in. The work being done by Heart of a Child is invaluable.
Honestly, I don’t know how they do it. President of Heart of a Child, Dr. Anna Burtea, does an amazing job of stretching the organization’s meager budget to meet the needs of all the children they come in contact with. Their work is important. Even vital. But they need help.
With prices rising, budgets tightening, and the demand for their services ever increasing, Heart of a Child faces a challenging future. And by extension, the children that rely on Heart of a Child face a challenging future.
If you’d like to help, I’d encourage you to make a donation to Heart of a Child via Zelle (you can donate to firstname.lastname@example.org) or via Paypal (click link). Either way, your money will go directly to help children badly in need this holiday season.
I donated. I hope you will too.