by Viorica Vladicescu
When Veronica and Ilie’s parents divorced, their mother moved to Moscow and ended all communication with the family. Despite this, Veronica and Ilie’s father, Vadim,1 continued to raise and responsibly care for them, showing his children love and affection as he always had.
But in 2013, the family began perhaps an even more difficult period in their lives. While they were away from home, the ceiling of their house collapsed. To afford the cost of repairs, Vadim borrowed money from a bank. Then, while repairing the roof, Vadim stepped on a nail – a seemingly small accident that turned into a major setback with months of limited mobility. It would take four consecutive surgeries for Vadim to properly walk again.
During the same time, Vadim’s liver started to fail. This required a series of treatments and more medical bills, but Vadim continued working. Before the repairs were finished, Vadim had to take out yet another loan to complete the house.
The money and time required to rebuild the house, combined with Vadim’s mounting health problems and medical expenses, took too much away from the family and left them hungry and destitute.
As a last resort, the family moved into a spare room in the house of Vadim’s mother. The house was unsafe and cold, especially during the brutal winters. Understanding that he could not meet his children’s basic needs, Vadim decided to take his children to an orphanage hoping that, once he had a safer home and could provide a better life for his family, he would return for them and take them home.
That was when we at Children’s Emergency Relief International (CERI) first met Veronica and Ilie, when the pair of siblings were admitted to an orphanage in Orhei, Moldova.
CERI has been helping young people like Veronica and Ilie for 20 years across the country of Moldova, establishing the best opportunities for care to children in unfortunate situations or from unsafe backgrounds.
This has included slowly replacing orphanages in favor of in-country foster care and adoption, and equipping parents and other caretakers with the information and resources they need to be a stable source of support for their children, and to decrease the chances of biological families separating.
At the Orhei orphanage in 2012, Veronica and Ilie enrolled in CERI’s foster-care program with our staff in Moldova. Our primary goal was to empower and strengthen the Sandu family to a place where they could be together again. Their father, Vadim, remained engaged with the children and was also able to benefit from CERI. We offered him counseling and case management services as well as parenting classes and seminars, where he learned about the stages of psycho-social development in children, how to parent teens and how to foster healthy lifestyle habits with his children. Together with Veronica and Ilie, Vadim participated in Easter and Christmas celebrations at CERI – opportunities to learn about the love of God and to spend time together with family. These endeavors equipped Vadim with important knowledge to better raise his children with consideration of their physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs.
The Sandu family made great effort to overcome the crises that came their way and start life anew. CERI supported the family and even found a sponsor for Veronica, named Hannah, who became a mentor for Veronica. Hannah traveled to Moldova from Texas twice to visit with Veronica and offer her emotional support. As a sponsor, Hannah provided a monthly financial contribution to Veronica even when she could not be there.
Hannah’s sponsorship was a tremendous help to Veronica and her family. The Sandus also received support for other necessities like food, clothing, shoes and school supplies. Veronica even received a bicycle to travel from home to school. Support like this ensured that Vadim’s children did not need to return to an orphanage.
After the age of 16, Veronica continued her education at a professional school2 in Chisinau. She stayed at the school dorm and started receiving transitional care services from CERI, which helped her become a responsible and well-integrated young adult. She participated in life skills training, Bible classes, volunteering projects, psychotherapy and cooking classes. These activities impacted her life and helped her grow to meet her potential. She matured, made good friends and developed an honorable character.
Much has changed in the small family during the years they were served by CERI. Veronica graduated from a professional school with a specialty in tourism and hospitality. Ilie continued going to school and secured a job at a nearby factory. Both children now live in their renovated home, with their father.
As for Vadim, he remarried and became a father again. His youngest daughter is named Anastasia, which translated from Greek means “Resurrection,” marking the rebirth of their family.
1 The names of all family members have been changed to preserve anonymity.
2 Similar to a technical school in the U.S.