Romania Volunteer Work

This blog focuses on charity and spiritual growth. In 1999 I graduated from Olivet Nazarene University and spent the next month-and-a-half working in Romania with orphans. There was nothing in my life that prepared me for this opportunity more than the volunteer work that I had spent prior to this engagement. However, the volunteer work, no matter how diverse it was, never prepared me for the amount of diversity that I would be engaged with for the next month and a half. I truly saw people at their very lowest with very few resources on hand. My own volunteer work had greatly been spent in the United States. And our idea of the needy is truly different when it comes to the view of the greater world. In 1999 there were refugees escaping from Bosnia to Romania trying to avoid genocide.

These individuals were extremely poor and had almost zero resources. During this time these people were competing with the locals in Romania for what little was there. I got to work with the orphans of gypsies in the town north of the city of Bucharest. This town was a very small town with poverty that was palpable at every turn. One of my greatest memories of my time in this town was the opportunity that I had to buy ice cream for all the little kids. The American dollar was extremely strong in Romania at the time and for less than a couple of bucks I was able to buy ice cream for 10 to 20 kids. I felt like the Pied Piper when I was able to buy ice cream have kids with it surrounding you, it was one of the greatest memories I’ve ever had.

Giving to others always feels great and the opportunity to see the need from the eyes of some of the poorest people helped me really understand what poverty truly is. Although these people were truly poor in the world’s eyes most of them truly had something deeper inside of them and less superficial than the people I normally meet on a daily basis. The one thing I really noticed about these people is relationship meant more to them than anything else.

The only thing I could surmise was the fact that the lack of material goods has pushed them to care about the things that they should care about most. I walked away from this changed for life. Understanding that relationships truly are the most important thing in our lives and the only thing replaceable is everything material.

People are not replaceable. When I left this experience and went back to America I had a full-time job waiting for me. I remember feeling extremely guilty at the time knowing that I was going back to such a lavish opportunity that others could only dream of. Knowing and constantly remembering, to whom much is given, much is expected.