The culmination of the Mentoring Project was a weekend in Bran, in the Carpathian Mountains.
The children were so excited to get there. They had been anticipating the fun activities and time to spend with their mentors for months.
When we arrived at the camp ground, we were first served lunch. The children ate more than the mentors! They were so excited to have so many options of food and sweets to choose from. Then they went right outside for a party. Snitzy, the lamb, was joined by pirates and clowns for one big party. The children had their faces painted, made sword balloons, played musical chairs and then got cake for desert!
Then the children had a contest to see who could cover a mummy in toilet paper the fastest.
They even had a contest to see who could clean up the most toilet paper at the end. No littering in this environmentally friendly group! Then some of the kids played soccer with their mentors while the rest relaxed on hammocks or fed the deer. After dinner, the children enjoyed a huge bonfire while sipping on hot tea.
The next day was also full of excitement! The children rode horses, shot arrows for archery and even zip-lined through the forest.
They made arts and crafts and even had a drawing contest to illustrate their favorite experience of the weekend. Of course everyone won and received treats and bubbles to blow.
It was a great weekend for the children and mentors to spend together in the Romanian mountains. No one wanted to leave! All the children were so tired from the exciting weekend that they slept the whole way home!
As part of the Mentoring Project activities, the mentors and mentees spent a great, sunny day at the Zoo. It was a much needed day. First, the children enjoyed learning about each animal while enjoying snacks. The mentors always love to feed them a ton of sweets before taking them home to their orphanage. They watched the tiger lazing around, the bears rough housing and the dingo antagonizing a bear ten times his size.
After this, we all spent some time in the play ground. The children loved being swung around the merry-go-round and could have stayed there getting dizzy for hours. If only we didn’t have another fun activity waiting for them. They were so excited to have a drawing contest and each made some drawings on the sidewalk with chalk. The task was to draw their favorite animal that they saw that day. In the end, they all did such a great job and everyone got a reward of sweets. The children were all winners that day in the contest.
Next came face painting! They were turned into the animal of their choice by the mentors so they could take the animals of the zoo home that night. We are sure they all had amazingly exotic dreams that night of running through the jungle!
In the Mentoring Project we tried to form partnerships with many other organizations, from non-profit to commercial and the public sectors. I was happy to see that the large majority of the organizations that we approached for help with our project replied positively and sometimes ended up getting more involved than we initially discussed. This was the case with the local Planetarium, part of the Arges County Museum.
After getting to know each other over the Christmas holiday season, the mentors and mentees met for a fun day at the local Pitesti Planetarium.
The children were so excited to watch a “movie in the sky” (as they called it). Amazingly for children, they all sat and watched the movie with awe on their little faces. They were so well behaved and intrigued by the film about the solar system that the Planetarium director decided to show them another film. This time they watched a cartoon about space.
After loving this film, the Planetarium director decided that they were so happy to learn that he gave them a break and said they could all watch another film.
The children were so into the films that they almost didn’t want to leave their seats for a tasty snack. A little chocolate dragged them away and after filling their bellies with food, they were ready for another film. They sat with their mentors and learned some more.
During the Mentoring Project we hosted a few international youth volunteer teams on the Habitat for Humanity construction site and we took them to interact with the children at the orphanage.
The volunteers brought clothing and books for the orphanage. The children were so excited to have visitors on a school night!
They ate sweets and learned words in other languages while teaching the volunteers Romanian words. It was very exciting for them to hear foreigners trying to speak their language. After getting to know each other, the children took the volunteers out to play in the snow.
For the volunteer team from Saudi Arabia, this was the first time they had seen snow. The children could not believe this and were gearing up for a snow ball fight. Of course the children won!
They played and rolled around in the snow with their interesting new friends and then had warm tea.
The Mentoring Project continued in December with the first group activity, a Christmas Celebration at our partner orphanage. The mentors went through trainings and learned how to work with the children and they were very excited to finally be able to meet their own mentee.
At Habitat for Humanity we had been saving up clothing, school supplies and toys all year to have enough for all 30 children at the house. We put together a backpack for each child and the mentors gave these to their mentees as a surprise.
The children were obviously thrilled to have the surprise of the backpacks full of needed supplies and toys and most of all for the chance to have a person dedicated to them. Everyone found a space in the orphanage to get to know their newly found friends.
We laughed, played, recited poems and sang songs. It was a joyful evening for the children and we were told they all slept great!
The young mentors were very happy that they were able to make the children’s Christmas so special. They were all looking forward to taking their mentees out for fun over the holidays and getting to know the children better.
You can watch a video with the children singing Christmas songs for their mentors.