Approximately 100 children have left Casa Alba and now have families. When greetings come from them with messages of positivity, those who have worked to save the children feel that it was worth every effort. Since the stop law prevented international adoptions in 2003, children unfortunately remained at Casa Alba for a longer period of time. Babies were no longer allowed to be place there anymore, but older children, that had been removed from their parents by the authorities, still came. Casa Alba became a home for school children and even though the staff did everything they could to make it as home like as possible, it is not normal for children to live collectively like that. In 2009 the dream that all Casa Alba children would have a family, came true. The children live in FCE’s family homes, in foster families and some are in the process of being adopted.
From 1994, when the boarding school at Cadea started, until 2004 when it was closed, FCE’s staff and volunteers made a great difference in the lives of the youth there. In 1997, FCE was asked by the state to run the boarding house to change the chaotic and destructive conditions. The youth needed to be better prepared for a life in society
In 1997 the first group of teenage boys graduated from Cadea. 13 of these were homeless, left outside of the school with a plastic bag of belongings in their hands. For those who knew these boys, this was a big challenge, because nobody wants to see the ones you love on the street. The first transit home was opened in Marghita in 1998 and until then the boys lived in the not yet renovated camp in the Black Forest. The standard wasn’t much better than the one they had come from, but security, enough food and hope for the future were new ingredients in life.
It wasn’t until 2001, with the three transit homes completed, that the boys who graduated from Cadea were able to move straight into a secure family environment. All those who didn’t have families to go to were offered a place in one of them.
Initially it was only boys who had finished school at Cadea that were placed in FCE’s transit homes, but in 2004 the first home for girls opened. In more recent years the state has allowed younger youth to move from the orphanage in Popesti to FCE’s transit homes. With a big effort they have managed to integrate into normal schools any many have graduated.
At Casa Alba there were often good bye-parties when the children moved out. In spite of the separation it was always a joy to see children receive a mother and a father but more importantly a greater chance in life. Some children couldn’t be adopted or placed in foster homes because of different disabilities, so in March 2003 Casa Silvia opened, which is a home for children and youth with various disabilities. Silvia, who was one of the first children who moved into Casa Alba, gave her name to the new home.
It had initially been intended that the special needs school would exist to give children with special needs the opportunity to go to school and not be pushed aside by society into an orphanage.
Since 1997, when the first ones graduated from Cadea, job training and employment have been offered within FCE, because many of those who have grown up in an orphanage had difficulties getting a job and keeping it. To be able to offer employment opportunities and business training, PRO-Elim was started. A car wash opened in 2002 and has given jobs to many of the older boys. Since it didn’t generate any profit the car wash, and the coffee shop next to it, was closed in spring 2007. In the autumn of 2010 the car wash was opened again for necessity. Today, most of the youth that move out from the transit/family homes have a greater chance of getting and keeping a job in society.
In 2002 a hair salon was opened, where some of the transit youth received training. The hair salon closed in 2006 and the building was repurposed and renovated into a family home for five school aged girls, “Casa cu Flori”.
Phyllis Parker from the USA was the volunteer behind the hairdressing training and the hair salon. Her work has left a strong and lasting impression on many of the youth and volunteers.
Read Phyllis Parker’s story about starting the hair salon, and how she was led to Marghita, in EFI/FCE ‘s newsletter from March 2001.