In the early 2000’s a group of local humanitarians, including both Wetaskiwin and Millet areas, raised funds to help the children living in a Romanian foster home. One of the humanitarians involved dropped by The Leduc/Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer to give an update on how those children are doing now, especially as local residents were very generous donors.
Gerda Zerbe-Kiel, a resident of Wetaskiwin, and several other volunteers traveled to Romania in 2001 as part of a Children’s Aid International Relief and Development (CAIRD) project to help children living in a poverty-stricken foster home. Zerbe-Kiel had already been donating her time as a church volunteer by making children’s items like diapers. She said local donors made a major impact and were very generous.
“Extremely generous,” said Zerbe-Kiel at the Pipestone Flyer Aug. 28. “Especially this man who lives in Millet. Thousands (of dollars). Extraordinary.”
Zerbe-Kiel and her sister Lil Hickman of New Sarepta decided to go to Romania through CAIRD to not only see things firsthand, but to pitch in and help renovate a house in the village of Medias.
The traveling altruist said after spending about two months in Romania, she became quite close to the children there. She stayed in touch with the kids and wanted to give local readers an update on where the kids are now, noting they are all doing well and are wonderful young ladies.
Some update information has been provided by a CAIRD worker named Peter Mrazik, who was a leader during the 2001 project and was previously a resident of the New Sarepta area. Mrazik had traveled to Romania and saw the need there, then returned to New Sarepta and told his church peers what he saw. They decided to help out.
Mrazik provided the following updates:
1) Coco is married and living in Canada now.
2) Ioana graduated from university as a registered nurse with a specialization in labour and delivery.
3) Anca graduated from university with a degree in pharmacy and is working as a pharmacist in a needy rural community in central Romania.
4) Alexandra just graduated from high school. She is considering further studies in pharmacy.
Although back in 2001 CAIRD worked through an orphanage in Romania, there have been some changes, including a presence in South Africa where the orphan crisis is critical. Significant improvements have been made that impacted the orphaned children’s lives. For many years now CAIRD has been working through the local social service departments in each country to place the children in two parent families where they have a stable, loving upbringing. In Romania there are currently 28 children in 13 families, and in South Africa there are nine children in three families. For more information, please go to www.caird.ca.
Zerbe-Kiel was quite humble about the experience, and said she felt it was her duty as a Christian to do what she could to help, and was relieved many local donors obviously felt the same way.
She also mentioned that Mr. Fisk, a Grade 4 teacher at Clear Vista School in 2001 asked if his class could participate in the project, by donating items needed at “Farmer’s House” in Romania, a children’s house operated by CAIRD. Zerbe-Kiel said the response was overwhelming as kids brought toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, diapers, towels, washcloths, tissues, Q-tips and more.
She also recalled some heartwarming comments made by students. Student 1 said, “My heart really went into this project.” Student 2 said “Now I know what I want to be when I grow up. I’m going to be a missionary.”
She stated that the Bible chapter Matthew 25, verses 35-40 explained why the volunteers wanted to help:
“35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”