Ann Hassan, Spence-Chapin’s Humanitarian Aid Coordinator, is reporting on a trip to Moldova and Bulgaria. MOLDOVA—What a coincidence to arrive in Moldova to visit Spence-Chapin’s two Granny Programs on September 6, the very day that this small nation celebrates Babushka Day, the day of the grandmother! Here with me are Rita Taddonio, Director of our Adoption Resource Center, and Milena Kazakov, Coordinator of our Moldovan and Bulgarian Adoption programs.
Our first visit was to the Republican Children’s Home in the capital city of Chisinau. We drove down a street lined with mulberry trees and pulled into the grounds of the children’s home where we were welcomed by the staff who had been anticipating our visit for several months. Gathered inside were the grannies from both of our vibrant Granny Programs in Moldova. Our host, the Republican Children’s Home, is the site of our Granny Program that started just six months ago in April 2010. Also present were veteran grannies and staff from the Municipal Children’s Home (also in Chisinau), where a Granny Program was initiated five years ago.
This was the first time that all 20 Moldovan grannies gathered in one room to share ideas and exchange stories. It was exhilarating to see a room full of so many people devoted to the same idea—providing love and guidance to children who are deprived of parental care. It was heartwarming to see the familiar faces of grannies we met on previous visits; and to witness the enthusiasm and energy of women who are new to the program.
Everyone came together today in order to attend a training by Spence-Chapin’s child development expert Rita Taddonio. As she has done previously in China, Colombia and Russia, Rita offered an overview of attachment theory which highlights the theoretical underpinnings of the design of the Granny Program. During the training Rita invited the grannies to share stories about their personal experiences with the kids. The grannies expressed an appreciation for the practical nature of the training which gave them an in-depth understanding of their role and validated the importance of their day-to-day interactions with the children.
Ending the day on a perfect note, we were treated to a performance of songs and poetry by the children of the Republican Home’s Granny Program. An adorable young boy of just 5 years old recited a poem written for the occasion:
My Granny is the best!
She shows me how to be.
How to live a good life and respect other people…
This and many other good things kindly my Granny keeps saying.
I know she wants me to grow up protected, happy and healthy.
It was a full day…we returned to the hotel filled with wonderful impressions, ideas and anticipation of what our second day in Moldova would bring.