My first awareness of the women’s refuge in the village of Bolintin-Deal, about a half hour drive west of Bucharest, was in 2007. I was hoping to be a member of a practical ‘Relief’ team working at a children’s orphanage in Bucharest. In one of the preparatory meetings we were shown photographs and a brief video of the women’s refuge in Bolintin-Deal on the outskirts of the city which, at that time, gave food and shelter to approximately forty women in their late teens and early twenties. The photographs shocked us, due to both the behaviour of the girls and the conditions in which they were living. The plan was for the some of the women on the team to visit the refuge each afternoon during the week we were there and to work in small groups on simple crafts and basic hygiene, plus a very short time of singing and simple Bible teaching.
If the photographs and video clip had shocked us, the reality was far worse, the erratic behaviour of these damaged young women and
the squalor and lth in which they lived left an indelible impression on us all. The journey from those days to where Casa Jubilee is today is brie y recorded on page five; my brief is to share the continuing burden I have had for the women, one that has drawn me back to visit them six times in total and caused me to pray for them over the years. That first summer, we saw a stark contrast between happy, cherished children and teenagers at the Christian-run orphanage and the traumatised ‘rejects’ from the Ceaușescu years. It was hard not to ponder on ‘what could have been’ for those in the refuge, had they had the same quality of care, support and interest. Much work has been done to improve living conditions, and those women able to live independently have moved on, making the centre more manageable and life for those who remain a lot easier. The fourteen still living there are very much a ‘family’ and Casa Jubilee is their ‘home’. About half have severe learning difficulties, all are traumatised in some way due to what they have suffered and it is very unlikely that any of them will ever be able to live independently.
Visits to Casa Jubilee in the last three years have been a delight, far removed from 2007, when the prospect of each afternoon felt utterly daunting! Under the consistent care of John, the manager, and those who help him, the women have grown calmer and more disciplined; outbursts of temper, fighting and inappropriate behaviour occur less often. I found a particular joy in seeing those who had been most withdrawn and traumatised able to relax, smile and laugh and join
in. After a wait of years Geta managed to sit at a table and take an active part in craft activities, on her own, for the rst time. A glimpse of a hitherto dormant sense of mischief revealed more of another’s personality! All who are able have responsibility for some of the household tasks, and the most able ones take their responsibilities very seriously. The latter also take great pride in keeping their personal living area and possessions both tidy and spotless. It is also interesting to see how the concentration span of many individuals has increased. Interest, both in craft activities and devotional times, is sustained for longer periods. Some special memories are of the times when visitors and residents pray for each other. However, time with the women is still very challenging and exhausting, especially for those with them all the time!
It is encouraging to see the improvements and the progress that has been made, and vitally important that these women should be able to remain together in their home, overseen by people who know them well and have their welfare at heart, and whom they have learnt to trust. Thanks is truly due to God for the resources provided and the work that has been done, and especially for the changes to be seen in the lives of each of the women.
Support Group member