A Letter from
something ENDS something NEW BEGINS
June is a very
emotional month for me. It has been for years now! Ever since I
have been involved in the educational programmes that Smiles has in Tileagd, June proves to be the "roller-coaster month". But this
year something was different!! This year was worse than ever!
Why? Why was
this time like that?
Let me tell
you in a few words ……AND I try not to cry! (so as not to damage
In the nursery
this past academic year (2015- 2016) we had 51 kids with ages from
2 years to 6 years old. They started very nervously in September
A few of them cried all through the
term because they could not get used to
leaving their mum at the door and see them go. But the love of the
teachers and staff made the kids feel
that nursery was like home!
Now in June
when we had the graduation day, they
all cry not to make them to
go on holiday!!
Thirteen of them finish their kindergarten and
move in September to grade school! They are "big children" now and
every time they have an opportunity to remind me of that, they do!
I was very proud of their progress this year. I am thankful to all
the teachers and the administrative staff that work there. They do
an amazing job preparing the kids for life, putting the
foundations in place.
Then in school,
for grades 1 to 4 this past year we had nearly 60 children.
Amazing to see the progress they make. This past year they won
lots of competitions and I was very impressed when I had a teacher
from a different school in the city telling us "your kids are a
real example of progress". Is that not nice to hear? Yes it is
hard to work with them, because even if we work with them for so
many years still not all the parents understand the importance of
education. YET it is
to see little glimpses of hope! My 4th graders are
ready to move to the next stage and onto 5th grade in
the State School!
In order to
celebrate that, we had a party. The cake was amazing and for that
we are really thankful to Geoff. He is our best friend in
Tileagd, and without him and his support to us, lots of things
would not have happened this year!
The most emotional
side of it was related to the secondary school kids. There we have
16 of them in grades from 5 - 8. My 8th graders
finished their ‘journey’ in the ‘small school’ as they like to
Now they are
becoming young adults. What was very emotional for me was
sitting in their graduation party and hear the teacher calling
their names in front for different rewards! I could not believe
that THEY ARE MY KIDS!!! The same kids that in 2004 were 2/3 years
old, coming to the nursery in the arms of their parents. I could
hold them and carry them. Today they are looking much bigger than
me! My babies have grown up!! To see 12 years of work being
recognised when their names were on the "Good list" was amazing!
Please PRAY for them! I have 4 of them that will move now to the
next level. I have Cassandra and her wish is to do stylist
classes. The boys Mike, Alex and Stanescu would like to do
mechanics! So please pray for their dreams to become real. I’m
thankful to Geta, my right hand person in Tileagd on the
educational side, for never giving up on these children. Also to
Meda and Ghiuri and all the teachers who are helping these kids on
a daily basis.
Then to make the
‘rollercoaster journey’ complete this year, I had
the high school
girls graduating 12th grade! Something that we never thought
would happen! Cornel finishing the high school last year was a
beginning of ‘breaking the tradition’ in the Gypsy community. It’s
nice to hear for example Florica G dreaming to do a college
degree and being one day a hotel receptionist. Until then she
will work for us from the beginning of July, helping on the retail
side. She likes fashion and everything that is related to it. Now
I have 3 of the "kids" working with us! I have Cornel who
started last year! He is a great help on the construction side
when we have mission trip teams. Also on security when it’s needed
and because he has a driving licence, he is a good help on driving
always. This year I had Roxana adding to the team. She is
helping Mariana at the mission centre and is doing a good job
there, especially when the place is busy with the teams. So please
pray for all 3 of them as
it is not that easy to do a job like all
the ‘normal people’ do, when you’re not from a ‘normal’ situation.
For their culture it is a new beginning!
I pray that they
will learn new things in the new chapter of their life!!! For this
I’m thankful to God, also to Mr Hoy who did not gave up in
supporting these kids over the years, even if at times he had
every reason to do so.
So, AM I PROUD?
YES I AM!
I’m proud of them
all, even if at times I get frustrated and angry with them! I’m
proud to see a new generation coming up in the Tileagd Gypsy
I always knew
that it would not be an easy journey. But I also knew the ONE
that is leading it – GOD. And even if at
times I or Mr Hoy want to give up, we are reminded of God’s love
that did not give up on us. So that keeps us going. Until when, I
do not know, but I’m sure that God knows best!
I want to say a
HUGE THANK YOU to ALL the people who did not give up helping the
Tileagd kids over the last 13 years. Your efforts and
commitment will be rewarded one day. Like the story in the bible
of the seed that is planted. Not all is in the good soil, but the
ones that are, need to be taken care of. And maybe we won’t see
the harvest here on earth, but I’m sure that the legacy that we
leave behind is a BIG one!
And yes, if there
is one wish I have in all this process, it was for Stephen
Woodward to be here with us and see the results. Still I’m
sure he is sooooo proud of them all from his advantage position in
Heaven. I will never have enough words to express my thanks and
gratitude for everything I learned from him. So dear friend - I
everything I wrote I am thankful to God. For the good times
and for the bad ones. For the time when I laughed and for the
times when I cried. For the times when I was strong and for the
ones when I was weak and wanted to give up! FOR EVERYTHING!
Because from everything I’ve learned that IF you want to get a
clear diamond, that diamond needs to go through the strongest
Let us pray
that we ALL become diamonds in God’s eyes!
And let’s continue
to pray for Tileagd. One day I’m sure that THEY will turn their
hearts to God. So let’s not give up praying.
Maria Hava ,
Director of Operations, Romania