This article was originally published in the July 2023 edition of ITMI Monthly.
Giorgiana came to Casa Dorca Children’s Home when she was 14 years old.
Giorgiana had a troubled and painful past, so that after spending Christmas of 2016 at ITMI’s Casa Dorca Children’s Home, she chose to stay at Casa Dorca rather than go home. Her caseworkers and the staff at Casa Dorca agreed, and she became a member of the Casa Dorca family.
Casa Dorca is now one of the largest buildings among the small red-roofed residences that make up the rural dwellings of the townspeople of the rural village of Prilipet, Romania.
The building, which ITMI supporters helped expand over two decades ago, has 13 rooms and 25 beds.
There is a kitchen, a relatively large common room for gathering, a garden, and a courtyard, where the kids enjoy outdoor activities when the weather allows.
The facility is heated by a wood-burning system that heats and stores hot water, which is then pumped through many wall-mounted radiators. Wood is the most cost-effective way to heat in this rural area.
Coal would be cheaper, but regulations severely limit coal burning, and it can only be used occasionally in small quantities.
Each summer, Casa Dorca needs to collect all the wood needed to keep the home warm through the winter. The wood needs 6 months to dry out before it can be used.
The staff, with help from the children staying there, as is appropriate, chop the wood and prepare it for use during this time.
Last winter, Casa Dorca was forced to burn wood that hadn’t fully dried yet. The green wood gives out moisture, which combines with other elements present in the boiler, creating a gooey residue that sticks to the walls of the boiler and corrodes it.
This caused the inner wall to be compromised, and the boiler had to be shut down in the dead of winter.
During that time to deal with the very cold temperatures, they attempted to use some portable electric heaters to heat a minimum of the rooms. This was extremely expensive. It was also crowded. There was still no hot water to wash dishes or shower, either.
Like all foster homes, Casa Dorca must maintain its facilities and environment to meet government regulations in order to remain open and legal. If Casa Dorca were to fail to meet these regulations and, for example, not provide heated rooms during the winter, it would risk the government relocating the kids who are staying there.
This would disrupt the “normalization” that is in progress for each of these children as they take steps toward healing from trauma, learn to re-engage socially, and learn to trust others through relationships at Casa Dorca.
“It would be really bad,” Ionel Iovescu, the Director of Casa Dorca, commented.
In recent years, some of the laws and procedures have changed in Romania.
When a child enters the system, case workers will first try to find a foster family for the child. If a child is over 7 and has a history of behavior issues or problems, that is when a child gets placed in a “group home” like Casa Dorca. A younger sibling can come to Casa Dorca with their older sibling if the older sibling gets placed somewhere like Casa Dorca, but in general, kids under 7 aren’t being placed in group homes.
Ionel explains, “When a family splits, the kids are neglected, but it doesn’t happen instantly. It takes years. The first thing that goes is school, then hygiene. The authorities only step in when things get really bad.”
So, by the time a young person reaches a place like Casa Dorca, they have likely been repeatedly traumatized by abuse or neglect, are grievously behind in school, and often believe there isn’t hope or a future for them.
Re-engaging with the world is difficult; normal social interactions probably feel almost impossible. Re-entering school after years away is an additional challenge that is often seen as insurmountable.
The staff at Casa Dorca embraces these tough cases with open arms, diving headlong into the trauma and pain and offering hope and healing through Jesus.
When they walk through the Casa Dorca doors, that “case” is no longer a “case” - it's a beloved family member.
In 2021, Giorgiana graduated High School. Later that summer, she made her faith her own and was baptized at the local church. Ionel wrote,
“It is a very encouraging time for us at Casa Dorca when one of our kids decides to make their faith their own. We do everything we can to teach them the Gospel as they grow up here, we try to exemplify Christlikeness for them, but ultimately the decision is theirs to make. Sometimes these decisions for Christ come later in life for them, but occasionally we are blessed to celebrate a baptism before they leave our care.”
Later that fall, Giorgiana started nursing school about a 2.5-hour drive from Prilipet.
Now 20, she lives on her own but remains a member of the Casa Dorca family and under their care and provision. They continue to interact with and pray for Giorgiana and her walk with the Lord. In her first year at nursing school, she made good grades and adjusted well to living in an apartment on her own. She enjoys baking, coffee shops, and reading.
Casa Dorca has an immediate need for $1910 to purchase the rest of the firewood they will need to get through this winter. It is already July, which means the wood purchased by any funds given this month will not be ready until January or February.
ITMI supporters have already made sure Casa Dorca can continue providing a safe place and a loving family environment for kids in need by giving $14,705. That wood has already been purchased and is drying out, but they need to purchase the rest very, very soon.
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Steve Evers has advocated for and served the ITMI partners as ITMI Director since 2001. Approximately once a year, Steve visits with ITMI partners in their countries and brings stories back to encourage supporters. Steve enjoys photography and mechanics (both hobbies that have greatly benefited ITMI partners!) Prior to becoming ITMI's Director, Steve served on the Board of Directors for 4 years. Steve lives in Arizona with his wife, Darlene.
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