Newly updated for 2020, This revised and updated book documents Adele’s experiences with her daughter since the book was first published in 2013, and Adele’s ongoing involvement in highlighting the plight of Orphans in Romania.
This memoir, by photojournalist, Thomas B. Szalay, reflects on his journey into the lives of Izidor Ruckel and other abandoned Romanian children.
”Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young-
a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
Teo Chariessa, Conop, Romania wrote;
”A very powerful book, meaningful, speaking straight to the soul, heart-touching. Vivid descriptions bring the reader at the core of events and situations. A lot of suffering that generated so much ambition, determination, so much courage in a person weakened and vulnerable due to so many trials and tribulations. Love and self-sacrifice coming from a broken heart. A wounded soul has so much power and nothing can stop it when it’s started on it’s way. A huge ambition compensates all the frustrations and by saving another soul, you have saved yourself. A very good book, a thrilling read, a wonderful writer.
“You wake up one morning to the sound of history knocking loudly, impatiently, persistently at your door.
To answer it is to take a leap of faith into your future.” Adele Rickerby
Jonquil Graham wrote: “A must read book for those of us who adopted from Romania, or anywhere. It’s about a mother’s perseverance and how she found conditions and the baby she adopted. It’s about hope and what happened in Romania post-Ceausescu. It is haunting and if you were in the same position, would you be brave enough to just go with your gut and do what is right for the sake of a child? ”
Costin Hewitt, a Romanian Adoptee, wrote; “This is an amazing book. Thank you so much.”
Tony Tingle, Editor, Memoirs Publishing in the U.K wrote: “The Promise I Kept is a powerfully and vividly written story.”
Colby Pearce, Principal Clinical Psychologist at Secure Start and author wrote:
I recently finished, The Promise I Kept, Adele Rickerby’s memoir about the personal journey that led her to adopting a child from a Romanian orphanage in the aftermath of the downfall of the Ceausescu regime. It is a well-crafted story that is accessible to most readers and can be read cover to cover in two-three hours. People will take out of the story different things, depending on their own life journey and interests. I found the insight into the inner world of the mother and evocative descriptions of the characters and places she experienced along the way most satisfying. I am happy to recommend it to the many who are fascinated by personal memoirs and accounts concerning adoption.
Sandra Flett wrote: “I love memoirs, especially of ordinary women doing remarkable things to help others in desperate situations and this book was right down my alley. Growing up as a child and teenager in the 1980’s and 1990’s, I would hear bits and pieces about the ” Romanian Orphans”. And so to read a true story about a woman who rescues a little baby Romanian girl captivated me. I only wish it was much longer. I read it in about 2.5 hours one summer afternoon and was sad that I didn’t know the rest of the story. More please Adele Rickerby!”
|1.||Kelly Proctor reviewed The Promise I Kept: A mother’s journey to save a child from the poverty and squalor of post-Cold… A Burning Desire June 1, 2014Adele Rickerby’s, The Promise I Kept, is a superb story of what the can be accomplished when one sets a goal and has the burning desire to carry one through the innumerable obstacles. Due to certain health issues, she is not able again to conceive another child. But her desire to be mother again does not die and she decides to pursue the adoption process.|
Adele’s story of wanting to be mother again, despite all the immediate roadblocks that were presented to her in Australia, should had been enough to discouraged anybody from trying, but the burning desire inside her, carried her far away from the borders of this country to a land that just having been freed of a despotic ruler and was trying to find itself. Among all this chaos Adele is there, going through every and other hurdle that comes along in this journey, from mindless and corrupt bureaucracies, inhumane proposals, and much more, she is finally able to come back home with her new daughter.
This is just another great example of what the mind can conceive, it can achieve.View on Amazon.com Add a comment View this book’s reviews on Amazon.com
|2.||Kaiden reviewed The Promise I Kept Good story! January 5, 2014An interesting story about a courageous women who singlehandedly travel on the other side of the world and struggle through a bureaucratic maze to finally achieve her dream to adopt a child. A must read for anybody who contemplate adopting a child oversea!View on Amazon.com Add a comment View this book’s reviews on Amazon.com|
|3.||mark johnston reviewed The Promise I Kept You read this from cover to cover November 27, 2013A very interesting wee read about a young woman on a mission to the eastern block, to adopt a child. If we cast our mind back to that era it was certainly was a troubled time both politically and socially in the ‘block’. Between being thrown off trains because of her New Zealand citizenship, and not able to speak the language, she faced and conquered many problems and challenges with patience and doggedness . The corrupt ‘officialdoms’ backstreets and dangers are compensated by the sheer generosity of strangers. All these faced by a smallish woman with the burning desire for another child, despite a failing marriage at home. A very compelling read.Mark Johnston.|
Born to defeat; the incredible life story of the young man raised at the orphanage and who now provided a warm meal for the homeless of Bucharest. By Ramona Raduly. Translation by John Korst.
Gabriel Ciubotaru was born the day after the devastating earthquake of 1977. He opened his eyes to the world for the first time in a near ruined Bucharest, and this was to predict his destiny. His mother was an artist, the father an airline pilot. His father died in an airplane crash. When he was just ten years old, his mother also died from the rottenest of the Communist regime; she had been diagnosed with an extra-uterine pregnancy that had to be aborted, but for this, a commission was needed and abortions were not allowed at that time. Until the answer came, his mother died, and after this second great tragedy, Gabriel was taken to the ”Children’s Home”.
His years of school and adolescence were sprinkled with everything, and good and bad, but he grew up, learned, finished College and a Master’s degree and now helps the little ones. He founded the Association; ”Your Chance” with which he carries out many good deeds projects, but the dearest of his soul is ”A Warm Chance”, with which, for more than eight years, he provides a warm meal to the homeless of Bucharest.
An incredible story. A true story that could one day come to the page of the book ”Born to Defeat”.
”What does a day in your life look like today?”
”First of all, I don’t think that there are any significant differences between my program and those of other people, more or less ”N.G.O’s. This list probably sounds familiar to you; sleep, healthy eating, family, career, sports, reading, writing, travel etc. What is different from what I did five years ago is definitely a much better organisation, which helps me to better distribute the twenty-four hours of my life.
The sun shines above my house, I start my day with optimism, I carry out all the procedures I do in the morning, after which I eat and start work; I answer emails, I read correspondence, I answer telephones, counselling, conferences, meetings with collaborators, etc.and we solve the cases that come or are being finalised, I visit the social centres, I go to get donations from where people want to donate. Depending on the day, we prepare various projects, but the evening comes quickly over us. And because the summer is much longer, I have time to walk on the forest path, to relax and to think about my life.
I still visit the beneficiaries; for example today I was with a father and four of his ten children to see their mother in a penitentiary. I also read Ionut Ursu, the young man raised in an orphanage who has been volunteering in Nepal for five years. How did a child who, until he was eighteen, was told that he would die of A.I.D.S to build the first dental practice in Nepal?
”What are your current projects?”
A Warm Chance, Smile From the Box, Camp of Your Life, Requirements for Your Future, Helmut Schlotterer Social Centre.
”What is the dearest, closest project to your soul so far?”
The project ”A Hot Chance”.
”When you were a child, what did you dream of doing?”
My dream was to be a driver for salvation, to save people, but with the time and experience gained, I could say that I fulfilled this dream to help people. I didn’t think then that I could do so many things. Now I want to be a man to help people and to fill my parental void- the lack of a family, helping those in need. If you are not well anchored in your values, you may be living the dream of someone else, (society, parents, friends, boss.)
”What happened to you at the orphanage?”
After my mother’s death, I went to the orphanage called St. Stephens Children’s House. It has now been abolished. There were one-hundred children, each with his life story. Relatives took me there. They probably couldn’t afford to keep me. I was in school, in fourth grade in Sector One when my mother died. At the orphanage, we tried to organise the birthdays of my colleagues every month. We went to camps, we also had difficulties with the biggest ones who beat us. The desert was a luxury for us, fearing that the bigger ones will take it. But I was running from the placement centre and going to hospitals, and the doctors were protecting me and I was admitted for a few days. When I returned, they didn’t take much notice of me, because I told the Director and I was running away.
I learned a job, I finished school, we had good educators who helped us with lessons, they were beautiful memories. When the holidays came, then I was suffering, because most were leaving to go home and nobody came for me. I kept wondering if, as far as this big world was concerned, there would be no family for me. I was crying and calling out to God.
The Revolution came, the foreigners came with help and I started to grow. To grow old and to forget about the lack of family. We changed the room with furniture from donations, we dressed differently, we received oranges, we made juice. We slept six-eight children in a room. There is a lot to tell and I have not yet found anyone to help me finish my book ”Born to Defeat”.
I was organising trips. I remember that I went to a Children’s Centre in Busteni where there were three hundred children. I talked to them and it was an exchange of experiences.
”How were your school and teen years?”
The years of school and high school are unforgettable; full of joy, smiles, ears, emotions, years when I was part of a great and wonderful family. I remember with fondness the first day of school when, full of emotion, I went to class together with the teacher, a second mother to me, full of warmth and kindness, who loved us enormously and did everything she could to help us. She was the one who showed us, for the first time, with great patience, the magical powers of the pen, and the one who helped us choose the best path in any challenge we had. Even though I was in the more energetic group and I was upset about the lady teacher, she always had the power to understand us and to forgive us very easily. The day I finished fourth grade was full of strong emotions, both happiness because I was starting a new chapter in our lives, and sadness due to the separation from the lady teacher. I remember how many hugs, flowers and tears there were.
For me , the hardest stage in my life was in grades V-V111 and in High school when I felt alone in the world. But I learnt, worked hard to get somewhere, despite the obstacles in life. Thus, with the beginning of 5th. grade, I embarked on a new adventure of my life. We were all scared and curious at the same time. The years of Highschool proved to be wonderful and I learnt a lot of new things. Each teacher took care to teach us both lessons related to the subject taught and life lessons. I remember with joy the wonderful teachers we had, with all the defining gestures, how to teach and make us easily understand what they want to teach us and all the passion they had, each of them for own matter. I was forced to change High school but I quickly made friends. The school was in the orphanages yard, and my bedroom was facing the school yard, a wonderful view; I could see when children were leaving or coming to the school, and when the yard was filled with children, I was motivated to learn and to move on.
In school, I connected with beautiful friends. We were surrounded by two different worlds- children from families and those from the placement centre. I was watching and seeing the differences. Even though the children in the families were poor, they were more educated, but we from the centre were happier because we lived permanently in the community.
But the nucleus of life forms in the family. I did not understand then that there is another world.
”Who trained you to become a man today?”
People come and go from your life. Many special people have passed through my life, but some people remain for the rest of my life in my heart and mind. Every person who goes out of your way puts a brick in your character. It is not one particular person who trained me, it is a labyrinth of people, from my mother, educators, teachers, my aunt, to new people who came into my life after I opened the ”Your Chance” Association. Several doors opened to me. I got in touch with another kind of people, more responsible, serious. Also, every thank you from an orphan child or a child from a poor family has given me hope to move forward, change destinies and train at the same time.
I can remember a few people; my wife Gabriela, my aunt and my niece, Casiana Fometescu, Carmen Stoica, Diana Milea, Andrei Stan, educators, Mrs Mihai, Physics teacher, Aikido coach, Mr Grigorescu.
”When did the idea of helping sprout in your mind?”
A psychologist told me that God has put in me a special seed, to help people, because not everyone can do this because it is difficult to work with people. I liked to help as a kid, even though I grew up in an orphanage. After ’89, I was a volunteer at various N.G.O’s, such as YCC Romania,(Love and Home for Children), UNICEF, Ovidiu Rom, Alinare Foundation, etc. I was involved in all kinds of projects, from building houses, painting and offering clothes and accessories to counselling etc.
”And why do you do that?”
I help because I feel good about what I do, it’s a lifestyle, a passion, like medicine or other specialities, it’s a calling. By doing good things for others, your self-esteem will increase and you will have the satisfaction that you have given, that you give people a chance to be more responsible and to value your help. When you help, you take the burden of the beneficiaries soul, but give it the power it needs to recover. You can be an example to others and try a state of joy and fulfilment. Because when we help, we can make amazing things happen by pushing those in need to be happy.
”What is your motivation?”
When I give, I feel happy, and especially when I see others happy. As I am connected to the needs of poor people, with those who want to help, I am glad that I can be a bridge between the poor and the helpers.
”Were there times when you cursed your fate? Or on the contrary, do you thank God for living and being healthy?”
I thank God for giving me this opportunity to move forward. It is not easy. There are all kinds of obstacles in life. I had moments when I was about to give up, but Heaven always lifted me up and gave me the power to move forward.
”What’s your biggest regret in life?”
My regret is that I didn’t have my parents near me to see how I grew up and be satisfied with myself. I can’t speak well in words, but I think life gives you a lemon and you have to make lemonade. I was pleased with what I had and my regret is that I am too open and exposed to less good people. I can make mistakes but I also learn something from it every time.
”What makes you happy?”
If you fail to make a lifestyle out of being happy, because happiness is from God. It activates according to your state and your involvement in helping others. Let me throw away all the useless things and keep only the essentials. To read and learn new things, not to upset anyone and see happy people.
”What does ”Your Chance” mean?”
The Association ”Your Chance” was born from a desire to give a chance to everyone in need. To be a chance for both the people who want to help and for those who receive. Why is ”Your Chance” the expression that gives you the power to move forward even if you are going through difficult times in your life? Because we all have a chance in life and it’s a pity to waste it and not use it to do good.
WHAT WE’VE ACHIEVED
1993 – Barnabas Ministries was formed and outreach to the elderly and poor families began in Brasov, Romania.
1994 – Church planting and Orphan care work began.
2001 – Land was purchased in Sebis, Romania for the construction of Casa Ezra orphan and ministry center.
2003/2008 – Construction of Casa Ezra
2008/2009 – Weekly children’s and teen’s outreaches began at Casa Ezra.
2009 – Oasis of Love, kid’s camp was started and the first camps were held.
2011 – Advocacy for adoption began and a family of five children were re-united at Casa Ezra. (These children were eventually adopted by the Hurrelbrink’s after a difficult adoption process lasting seven years.)
2017 – Property was purchased for the future Community/Outreach Center in Sebis, Romania.
2018 – The Community Campaign to finance the building of the Community/Outreach Center was started.
Abandonat în spital de la 4 săptămâni, Andreas este unul dintre cei mai inteligenți oameni pe care îi cunosc și mă bucur tare mult să văd tineri ca el încercând să facă România bine. Face voluntariat de la 14 ani și luptă din răsputeri pentru drepturile copiilor din centrele de plasament. Din păcate, războiul cu autoritățile este unul lung și crâncen. Dar el nu se lasă, tocmai pentru că știe foarte bine toate abuzurile care se petrec în sistem. Statul român i-a refuzat dreptul la o familie, educatorii mușamalizau abuzurile sexuale din centrul în care era plasat și o mulțime de alte nereguli de acest fel. Iar normal ar fi ca astfel de lucruri să nu se mai întâmple. Pentru că ele încă au loc și în 2019.
Vă invit să descoperiți povestea unui tânăr de doar 24 de ani care a demonstrat că se poate. Astăzi e președintele Consiliului Tinerilor Instituționalizați din România, expert recunoscut internațional în drepturile copilului, în echipele ONU și SOS Satele Copiilor, dar și formator de asistenți sociali.
DaddyCool: Salut, Andreas. Spune-ne puțin despre tine. Cine ești, la ce vârstă ai fost abandonat și cu ce anume te ocupi în prezent?
Andreas: Salut, Robert! Sunt un tânăr de 24 de ani care încearcă să facă bine pentru semenii săi. Am deschis ochii în sistemul de protecție a copilului, adică sunt în sistem de la 4 săptămâni. Practic, de la naștere.
Lili, cea care mi-a dat viață, m-a abandonat imediat după ce a ieșit din spital. De la spital am fost tranferat la leagănul de copii din Timișoara, iar de acolo am fost transferat la Casa de Copii nr. 4 din Lugoj, județul Timiș. Am „locuit” în acea casă de copii până la vârsta de 4 ani și 6 luni. Țin minte că am fost transferat la Checea în Decembrie, 12 decembrie 1999. De atunci casa de copii nr. 1 din Checea este casa mea.
În prezent sunt asistent social, formator și lucrător de tineret. Din Decembrie 2017 sunt președintele Consiliului Tinerilor Instituționalizați, structura națională de reprezentare a copiilor și tinerilor abandonați din România.
„Regret că am cunoscut-o pe cea care m-a născut și m-a abandonat la ieșirea din spital. Nu sunt supărat pe ea. Nu cunosc sentiment pentru ea.”
DaddyCool: Ți-ai cunoscut vreodată familia sau vreuna dintre rude?
Andreas: Da, mi-am cunoscut. La vârsta de 14 ani am cunoscut-o pe Lili și pe mama ei. Am vorbit cu administratorul fundației „Siguranța pentru Copii în România” și l-am rugat să mă ajute să o găsesc pe Lili. Îi cunoșteam numele, dar nu puteam să asociez numele ei cu o față de om. Am cunoscut-o într-o zi de Sâmbătă, la prânz. Nu era acasă, dar a fost chemată urgent ca să își cunoască băiatul abandonat. Așa îmi zicea mama ei.
Regret că am cunoscut-o, nu ținem legătura. Nu pot să zic că sunt supărat pe ea, nu pot să zic că o urăsc sau, Doamne ferește, că o iubesc. Nu cunosc sentiment pentru ea, poate că nici nu vreau. Îmi este bine fără ea. Dacă 24 de ani nu m-a căutat, nu vreau să forțez nimic. Un lucru este cert, copiii mei nu vor crește în casa de copii! Promit!
„La duș ne era frică să mergem pentru că băieții mai mari ne atingeau și ne abuzau sexual. Educatorii știau, dar aveau nevoie de ei ca să se <ocupe> de noi cât stăteau la țigară și cafea!”
DaddyCool: În ce casă de copii ai crescut?
Andreas: Am crescut la casa de copii nr. 4 din Lugoj și la casa de copii nr. 1 din Checea.
La vârsta de 4 ani am fost transferat la fundația „Siguranța pentru Copii în România”, în comuna Checea. Aici, în fundație, am fost sprijinit să mă descopăr, am fost încurajat să învăț și să mă dezvolt. Am crescut în condiții mult mai bune decât la Lugoj, unde eram 120 de copii îngrămădiți în camere uriașe, în paturi cu etaje și în frig.
Mâncarea era cea mai de preț. Toți copiii ascundeau colțuri de pită sub pernă. Ne ascundeam jucăriile ca să nu fie furate. La duș ne era frică să mergem pentru că băieții mai mari ne atingeau și ne abuzau sexual. Educatorii știau, șefa de centru știa și ea, dar aveau nevoie de băieții mai mari ca să se „ocupe” de noi cât stăteau ele la țigară și la cafea. Așa că era legea junglei în centrul de la Lugoj.
DaddyCool: Ce ai schimba în acest moment la România?
Andreas: Cred că aș schimba din funcție pe toți șefii de instituții cu o vechime mai mare de 8 ani pe post. Oamenii aceștia ajung să creadă că instituția este a lor, că ei pot să facă legea acolo și, mai presus de toate, ajung să creadă că ei sunt dumnezeii copiilor abandonați.
Aș muta focusul de pe angajații din sistem pe copiii din sistem. Aș crea un mecanism de dialog între copiii și tinerii abandonați și autoritățile locale, județene și naționale, în vederea îmbunătățirii calității vieții copiilor abandonați din România. Măcar atât să facă cei care trăiesc pe spatele nostru!
„Adesea rămân fără lucruri de care am eu nevoie, ca să îi ajut pe alții…”
DaddyCool: Care sunt, pe rând, calitatea și defectul tău cea/cel mai mare?
Andreas: Cred că defectul meu este că nu pot să refuz să ajut pe cineva care are nevoie de ajutor. Spun asta pentru că adesea rămân fără ceea ce am eu nevoie ca să îi ajut pe alții. Nu știu de ce, dar așa este! 😊 Calitatea mea, hmm, nu m-a întrebat nimeni până acum. Nu știu să îți răspund. Îi las pe alții să răspundă la întrebarea asta.
„Mă inspiră oamenii cu O mare. Oamenii care înțeleg să facă bine un sistem, dar din interior. Tu ești unul dintre ei, sincer.”
DaddyCool: Cred că inteligența și perseverența sunt calitățile tale mari. Mie îmi place tare mult și spiritul tău justițiar. Te inspiră cineva în acest moment?
Andreas: Ooo da, ești unul dintre ei, sincer. Cel mai tare mă inspiră oamenii cu O mare, oamenii care înțeleg să facă bine un sistem din interior. De exemplu, domnul Ștefan Dărăbuș – Directorul „Hope and Homes for Children” sau Rita Pierson – o directoare de școală din USA care a spus la TEDx că „toți copiii au nevoie de niște campioni”. Așa este, campionii mei sunt Marianne și Dr. Lutwig Herbold, oamenii care mi-au oferit o șansă pentru o viață mai bună, dar și Eva și Fleming Elgard Jensen, familia daneză care și-a dorit să mă adopte, însă statul nostru minunat de tâlhar mi-a interzis asta!
Nu o să uit expresia judecătoarei. Era așa de fericită că mi-a făcut rău și, practic, mi-a interzis dreptul la o familie.
Din fericire, Familia Herbold mi-a oferit o șansă și m-au luat la Checea. Ei mă inspiră zi de zi, ei mă încurajează să îmi finalizez studiile de masterat și să mă înscriu la doctorat!
DaddyCool: Ce s-a întâmplat cu procesul de adopție? De ce nu a mai avut loc?
Andreas: Statul român a decis să interzică adopțiile internaționale. Practic, au decis să interzică un drept fundamental, dreptul la familie. Trebuia să fiu adoptat de familia Elgaard Jensen din Copenhaga, Danemarca. Am fost la ei foarte des, voiau să fiu băiatul lor. Aveau deja 2 băieți, ambii studenți, unul la Medicină și celălalt la Drept. Aveau o situație bună și voiau să mă adopte. Bunica daneză a suferit foarte mult, ea își dorea să fiu nepotul ei. A decedat la scurt timp după ultima mea vizită în Copenhaga.
DaddyCool: Cine te-a îndrumat cel mai mult/ cel mai bine pe perioada copilăriei/ adolescenței?
Andreas: În perioada copilăriei, nimeni. Nu țin minte să mă fi ajutat cineva să depășesc trauma separării de familia Elgard Jensen, familia mea din Danemarca. Totul s-a întâmplat atât de rapid, încât cred că am dezvoltat un fel de mecanism de reziliență. Am acceptat faptul că nu o să îi mai văd. La Checea, nemții – cum le spuneam noi, s-au ocupat ca să nu ne lipsească nimic. Ne-au creat un mediu apropiat de cel dintr-o familie normală.
În adolescență m-a ajutat foarte mult doamna psiholog de la fundație. Este un om foarte apropiat de noi toți. Tata Dani, administratorul fundației, m-a ajutat foarte mult să mă focusez pe un drum în viață. Voiam să fac foarte multe lucruri, eram împrăștiat și m-am pierdut încercând să îi ajut pe alții. Nu m-am ocupat de mine, încă mi-e greu să mă pun pe primul loc, dar el m-a ajutat cu sfaturi și mi-a redat încredere și stima de sine. M-a sprijinit să plec în schimburi de expriență în țări din UE și asta m-a ajutat să fiu omul de azi.
„Voluntariatul înseamnă o serie de oportunități de dezvoltare personală. Am învățat o mulțime de lucruri care mă ajută acum. Sunt omul de azi fiindcă fac asta de la 14 ani.”
DaddyCool: Ce înseamnă voluntariatul pentru tine?
Andreas: Voluntariatul a însemnat pentru mine o serie de oportunități de dezvoltare personală, dezvoltare de deprinderi și de viață independentă.
Odată cu începerea liceului la Timișoara, am început să fac voluntariat la Fundația Student Plus de acolo. Îi învățam limba engleză pe bunicii din Academia Seniorilor, am fost implicat în proiecte europene și am învățat o mulțime de lucruri care mă ajută și acum.
A urmat Consiliul Local al Tinerilor Timișoara, unde am fost votat președinte al comisiei sociale. Apoi m-am implicat în alte proiecte europene. Astfel, în anul 2017, am fost angajat la Fundația Județeană pentru Tineret Timiș ca formator. O experiență foarte frumoasă. Am învățat într-un ritm alert să scriu proiecte europene, să susțin cursuri/ seminarii și am fost implicat în echipa care pregătea candidatura orașului Timișoara la Capitala Europeană a Tineretului. Apoi am fost ales Președinte al Consiliului Tinerilor Instituționalizați și m-am mutat la București pentru a mă ocupa de CTI.
„Vreau ca toți tinerii din sistem să își cunoască drepturile pentru a se apăra de cei care vor să le facă rău! Asta mă motivează!”
DaddyCool: Ce anume te-a determinat să începi să ajuți copiii din medii defavorizate și alți oameni care au nevoie de ajutor?
Andreas: Din nevoia și dorința de a schimba câte ceva la sistemul de protecție a copilului din România. Mă bucur că am reușit alături de echipa mea din CTI, dar și alături de partenerii CTI, să convingem autoritățiile să mute focusul de pe angajații din sistem pe copiii din sistem. Sper să se țină de cuvânt, să majoreze indemnizațiile și să îmbunătățească condițiile de trai din sistem.
DaddyCool: De la un copil crescut în orfelinat, ai ajuns să fii parte importantă din Consiliul Tinerilor Instituționalizați și să faci o mulțime de evenimente dedicate copiilor din centrele de plasament. Ce te motivează în fiecare zi?
Andreas: Vreau să conectez copiii și tinerii din centre cu instituțiile care trebuie să își facă treaba în interesul superior al copilului! Vreau ca toți tinerii din sistem să își cunoască drepturile pentru a se apăra de cei care vor să le facă rău! Asta mă motivează!
DaddyCool: Dacă ai descrie viața și activitatea ta din prezent într-un singur cuvânt, care ar fi acela?
DaddyCool: Care e partea bună a voluntariatului și care este cea mai puțin bună?
Andreas: Partea bună este că înveți multe lucruri prin educație non-formală. Înveți să relaționezi cu oameni din întreaga lume, afli la ce ești bun și faci bine comunității din care faci parte.
Partea mai puțin bună este că sunt ONG-uri care se folosesc de voluntari pentru activități pentru care, în mod normal, ar trebui să plătești pe cineva.
„Conferința VREAU ACASĂ a fost un vis a devenit realitate! Anul trecut, la Baia Mare, am organizat acest eveniment, unde au participat peste 110 tineri și educatori din sistemul de protecție. Promit că la anul vor fi mai mulți tineri și instituții europene la masa discuțiilor.”
DaddyCool: Cât de mult ți-a schimbat voluntariatul percepția asupra vieții?
Andreas: Sunt Andreas de azi deoarece am făcut voluntariat încă de la 14 ani.
DaddyCool: Povestește-mi un episod care va rămâne pentru totdeauna în inima ta.
Andreas: Conferința „Vreau Acasă”. Un vis a devenit realitate! Anul trecut, la Baia Mare, am organizat acest eveniment, unde au participat peste 110 tineri și educatori din sistemul de protecție. La fel, organizații și instituții de stat, aflate într-un prim proces de dialog, structurat între tinerii instituționalizați și autoritățile statului. A fost o experiență foarte frumoasă, un stres teribil pentru organizare, dar a meritat!
Tinerii au spus ceea ce nu le place la sistem, am venit cu propuneri pentru îmbunătățire și au mai scăpat de frustrări și supărări. Au înțeles faptul că noi suntem aici ca să îi ascultăm și să îi ajutăm. Promit că la anul va fi mai bine, cu mai mulți tineri și instituții europene la masa discuțiilor. Îți mulțumesc pentru ajutor, ne-ai ajutat foarte mult!
„Nu am bani pentru tot ceea ce am nevoie, dar mă descurc. Nu mă plâng. Iubesc ceea ce fac!”
DaddyCool: Pentru nimic. Nu am făcut mare lucru, sincer. Sprijin cauzele în care cred. Cât de greu e să mobilizezi sponsorii și cum îi aduci alături de tine pentru a pune în practică toate proiectele gândite?
Andreas: Nu îmi este greu. Odată ce vrei să faci ceva, odată ce crezi atât de mult în ideea ta și crezi că ceea ce faci va avea impact asupra celor pentru care lucrezi, vin și resursele de care ai nevoie.
DaddyCool: Tu din ce te întreții?
Andreas: Bună întrebare, că tot vorbeam despre voluntariat. 🙂 Lucrez într-un proiect European. Sunt co-formator într-un curs care îi pregătește pe cei 120 de asistenți sociali și alți profesioniști din sistem să lucreze cu tinerii care vor părăsi sistemul și vor ieși din îngrijire. Îmi place ceea ce fac. Era să uit, din Decembrie 2018 lucrez în grupul de lucru al ONU pentru rezoluția ONU privind protecția copiilor fără părinți. Voi lucra cu ei pe parcursul anului 2019.
Mă descurc, nu mă plâng. Nu am bani pentru tot ceea ce am nevoie, dar iubesc ceea ce fac!
„Am regizat două filme de scurt-metraj, am fost producătorul unui film foarte reușit pentru antidrog și am regizat primul spectacol de teatru al departamentului de asistență socială din facultatea la care studiez.”
DaddyCool: Știu că ești pasionat de artă. Povestește-mi despre proiectele pe care le-ai făcut în acest sens.
Andreas: Am regizat două filme de scurt-metraj, am fost producătorul unui film foarte reușit pentru antidrog și am regizat primul spectacol de teatru al departamentului de asistență socială din facultatea la care studiez. A fost interesant să lucrez cu profesorii mei din facultate. Să le zic eu ce să facă! 😊 A ieși un spectacol chiar reusit!
Acum lucrez la un nou proiect, un spectacol de teatru pentru ziua mamei. Te invit cu drag la spectacol. Pregătesc alături de echipa mea a doua ediție a galei „MAMA” și alte proiecte culturale pentru tinerii din sistem.
DaddyCool: Voi fi acolo, mai ales că voi prezenta evenimentul. 🙂 Care este cel mai mare vis al tău?
Andreas: Visul meu este să înființez centre pentru dezvoltarea deprinderilor de viață independentă în cel puțin 6 județe din țară. Sunt sigur că voi reuși anul acesta! Am o echipă foarte bună în consiliul director și mă bucur că partenerii CTI ne sunt alături în demersurile noastre.
DaddyCool: Ce le-ai spune tuturor tinerilor care ar vrea să facă voluntariat? Le recomanzi sau nu experiența?
Andreas: DAAAA! Dacă vrei să te faci bine, dacă vrei să ajuți și să schimbi ceva în comunitatea ta, implicăt-e! Fă voluntariat.
DaddyCool: Cum ar putea oamenii să te ajute, dacă ar vrea să îți fie alături?
Andreas: Să mă contacteze la 0786 336 068 sau pe email la adresa firstname.lastname@example.org. Este mereu nevoie de ajutor!
Dacă vor să joace în spectacolul nostru de 8 martie, chiar avem nevoie de actori. 😊
ACADEMIA DE VOLUNTARIAT este un proiect editorial semnat DaddyCool, menit să aducă în fața voastră povești incredibile de viață, ale unor oameni de tot felul, care și-au dedicat o mare parte din timp (dacă nu chiar tot) copiilor din medii defavorizate, mediului, animalelor abandonate, mamelor victime ale violenței domestice, bătrânilor etc.
E un proiect cu planuri foarte mari de viitor și sper din suflet să vă inspire să alegeți acest drum pentru că VOLUNTARIATUL poate fi un mod de viață, o cale spre o viitoare carieră, o revelație, o menire.
De ce i-am spus ACADEMIE? Pentru că fiecare dintre oamenii pe care vi-i voi prezenta pe parcursul anului 2019 ne va preda o lecție frumoasă de empatie, de ajutor necondiționat, de bunătate. Toți vor fi un exemplu de la care vom avea multe de învățat, iar împreună vor forma ACADEMIA DE VOLUNTARIAT, locul în care se adună toți oamenii buni ca să facă lumea din jurul lor un loc un pic mai bun.
Vă invit să citiți și despre PROIECTELE MELE DE VOLUNTARIAT, CARITABILE, pe care le-am conceput sau în care m-am mai implicat!
This article, which I wrote for the ”Adoption Today” magazine, appeared in thier July 2016 issue.
Within one year of adopting a baby girl from an orphanage in Romania, after the revolution, my husband was living elsewhere and I was a single mother of two beautiful girls. This was the inevitable result of a dysfunctional relationship. One in which I did not have the support of my husband when adopting.
I travelled alone to Romania and back home again via Germany and New Zealand, where I needed to finalise the adoption of my daughter as a New Zealand citizen. My ex-husband did not finally meet his adopted daughter until I returned home to Cairns, Australia, two months after I had left. There were many opportunities for him to be involved, but, apart from playing his part with the paperwork during the adoption approval process, which took three and a half years, that was all he did.
It is imperative that couples support each other and travel together throughout thier adoption journey. Meeting your adopted child for the first time in thier country of origin, is an essential part of the initial and ongoing bonding process for both parents.
Feeling isolated and with no support where I was living, I sold the family home, packed up what remained of our belongings after a garage sale, and moved to Brisbane with my two daughters. Natasha, my adopted daughter had just turned one year old and my biological daughter, Melannie, had just turned seven years old.
After settling in to a rented house, I actively went about building my adoption support team. International Adoptive Families Association of Queensland, was an essential part of my support team. I was already a member, having joined the organisation at the beginning of the adoption approval process. During that time, I spoke with other I.A.F.Q. members over the phone and looked forwards to receiving thier regular newsletters, but had never met a member in person. I started attending regular ”chat and plays” with Natasha. These were held in the homes of I.A.F.Q members or Parks and Gardens around Brisbane.
It wasn’t long before I was asked to take on a more active role. I was asked if I would co-ordinate the first seminar on Intercountry Adoption, to be held in Brisbane, and subsequently co-ordinated two more. Coordinating the seminars provided me with the opportunity to become more actively involved in the adoption community.
”Our Country is Poor But Our Hearts Are Rich”, said my fellow train passenger, an engineer on his way to an early morning meeting in Bucharest. The sun was rising on a day full of hope and promise, after a nightmare journey, alone, across Germany, Austria, Hungary, and finally, Romania, on my way to adopt a baby girl. I had been thrown off the train at the border between Austria and Hungary by eight Hungarian soldiers with revolvers at their hips and one official. When, finally, I arrived at the Gara De Nord railway station, and after a lengthy wait, was met by Janet and Michaela, I was exhausted and relieved.
Janet and her husband were from Brisbane and were adopting a baby girl and a baby boy. We stayed together in Michaela’s house. When, eventually, I arrived in Brisbane, one of the first people whom I contacted was Janet. Another couple whom I had also met in Bucharest, Tina and Steve, were also from Brisbane and adopting a baby boy and thirteen months old girl. Tina and Steve arrived back in Brisbane after spending one year in thier original home country of England.
After the revolution, foreign journalists went into Romania and discovered approximately 100,000 abandoned babies and children living in horror institutions where they were neglected and abused. The New Zealand government established an adoption program with Romania and a group of New Zealand parents formed Intercountry Adoption New Zealand. New Zealand parents soon started arriving back from Romania with thier adopted children.
Narelle Walker, married to a New Zealand man whilst living in Brisbane and wanting to adopt, made enquiries and learnt that they could adopt from Romania as New Zealand citizens. Narelle and her husband were one of the first couples to travel to Romania. Narelle went to the media to tell her story. That’s how I learnt I could do the same.
Together, Narelle, Tina, Janet and myself formed the ”Eastern European Adoption Support Group”. Tina had a suitable home with a safe backyard with a fort-style cubby-house, a sandpit and a swing. There was a rumpus-room with lots of toys for rainy days. Soon, we were meeting every Thursday morning for playgroup. As a single mum with no family, this was another vital source of support for me. We still meet regularly, twenty-four years later.
In 2013, I wrote a short memoir; ” The Promise I Kept”, published by Memoirs Publishing in the U.K and available as a paperback from The Book Depository. It is also available to be downloaded as a kindle edition on Amazon. I followed this with my website; http://www.thepromisekept.co in which I publish articles about orphan advocacy and child welfare in Romania. I also have a community Facebook page of the same name.
25 October 2018.
The love and care of his adoptive parents changed the world for Alex Kuch, but he also gives credit to the University of Auckland, which “opened up so many opportunities” to learn and then to apply the knowledge he has gathered.
The story of Alex Kuch, a recent University of Auckland graduate in Politics and International Relations, begins half a world away in an orphanage in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.
Given the basics of life but deprived of any affection, warmth, stimulation or love, Alex suffered from a condition called hospitalisation.
He habitually rocked, had no language and could not make eye contact with another human being.
His life changed forever when his adoptive parents Heidi and Walter Kuch rescued the 18-month-old and gave him a second chance at life in Germany, later relocating to New Zealand when Alex was 11, attracted by our education system.
“When I met Alex he was very quiet,” Walter says, as he recalls the “basic and overcrowded” institution where some 200 children were housed.
“He had a black mark on his cheek. We were told it was from another child who bit him when he tried to pinch an apple. There was not enough for them to eat so they fought over food. Alex couldn’t walk. Nobody cared for him.”
Walter bundled Alex up and took him to Bucharest for three nights while paperwork was finalised, while his new mother Heidi waited anxiously in Germany for their arrival.
“On the first morning in our hotel he woke up and I dressed him and he started rocking. That was a scary moment, it was a symptom of hospitalisation. We didn’t know if he would recover, but regardless I thought ‘he is our child and I will take him home’.”
After a few weeks in a loving home with responsive parents, the rocking stopped and never came back. But the long-term outlook for Alex was grim. A psychologist advised that he would never lead a normal life, complete high school, or have the social skills to integrate into society.
With the help of intensive speech and fine motor therapy, Alex walked at 22 months and began to talk around the age of five.
This year Alex completed a Bachelor of Arts degree and is now an accomplished public speaker, researcher and adoption advocate.
My parents weren’t going to let a prediction determine who I was going to become.
“My family is really proud of me, especially as I’m the first person in my family to have gone to university. It has been challenging; however the University has been very supportive. I had a writer for exams as I still have some fine motor challenges such as not being able to write neatly and quickly. But coming to university has opened up so many opportunities for me.”
Alex’s full list of achievements is lengthy and constantly growing. Standouts are speaking twice in Romania’s parliament, the first time when only 18 years old, being named a finalist for Young New Zealander of the Year, and completing research looking at the experiences of adoptees.
He is also an advocate for re-opening Romania’s borders to international adoptions. After the overthrow of the Ceau?escu government in 1989, thousands of abandoned children were adopted by overseas families, but corruption was rife and the world’s attention was drawn to the terrible conditions. Romania closed its borders to international adoptions in 2001.
“Just because there have been bad instances, entire countries have closed international adoptions as a result.
It’s like saying just because a small proportion of a population has inflicted violence towards children then everyone should be prevented from having children. What we need is to develop better policies to protect children during the adoption process.”
To this end, Alex is helping to establish a framework for global adoption policies at the third Asia-Europe Foundation Young Leaders Summit on ethical leadership, and will work with other global adoption experts at the International Conference on Adoption Research in 2020 in Milan.
He will also share his joint research with Dr Rhoda Scherman from AUT, which compiles the experiences of other adoptees published on the New Zealand based ‘I’m Adopted’ website.
“I’m Adopted is a place where adoptees from around the world can connect and share their stories,” says Alex. “With the permission of the adoptees, we have gone through dozens of stories to pull together the common themes of what adopted children go through. It’s valuable knowledge for agencies and families, for example knowing when to intervene or what to expect, and to provide better support.”
In an unusual twist in Alex’s own story, he met his birth mother three years ago on a live Romanian talk show.
Alex has visited Romania twice to advocate for reopening international adoptions, but has never sought to connect with his birth parents. While he was speaking on television about his advocacy work, the show’s producers blindsided him by bringing his birth mother and half siblings onto the stage.
“It could have been done more professionally, but things are a bit different over there,” Alex says.
“After I visited some orphanages and was then surprised by my biological family, I began to recall some visual impressions of my time in my orphanage. It was very emotional.”
Alex has chosen not to stay in contact with his birth mother.
“Why would I? I have a mother and father in New Zealand,” he says.
Heidi, his adoptive mother, says there was never an expectation that Alex would attend university. His younger brother Colin, also adopted from Romania two years after Alex, is more hands-on and has started a building apprenticeship.
“Alex just loves to learn. Once he learnt to talk, whoosh, it was like a waterfall that never stopped. He was always asking questions,” Heidi says.
“But we never put pressure on him to go to university. We just supported him in whatever he wanted to do. We didn’t spoil the boys or give them lots of toys, but we spent lots of precious time with them playing games and doing activities as a family.”
But Heidi says Alex was a challenging student and the German schooling system held him back.
“The New Zealand school system has been very good for Alex. When they discovered he was good at maths they pushed him, and then he was away.”
Alex was a top student at KingsWay School, on the Hibiscus Coast where he grew up.
Now back living in Europe, he has begun an internship with children’s rights and development organisation, Aflatoun International, based in the Netherlands. He also plans to return to Romania to continue to advocate for the re-opening of international adoptions, and is writing an autobiography chronicling his journey from the orphanage to New Zealand.
“Alex’s background, interests and experience will help us to scale up our focus on children that are living in alternative care and will have to stand on their own feet as they reach the age of 18,” says Roeland Monasch, director of Aflatoun International. “We want to make sure this specific group of children are empowered with these essential social and financial skills in order for them to be resilient and successful in their adult life. Alex will be a great resource for us.”
By Danelle Clayton
Ingenio: Spring 2018
This article appears in the Spring 2018 edition of Ingenio, the print magazine for alumni and friends of the University of Auckland.