Caring for the Forgotten Children

SFR Story

Sunshine Foundation Romania was born out of a need to do something to improve the lives of children in Romania who currently live in an orphanage, known as Barsa Mica and to try and ensure quality, long term, life outcomes for them.

Barsa Mica orphanage is situated approx 12 miles outside Brasov in a very isolated area. It is typical of many orphanages in Romania. It is unsuitable in terms of layout, it is overcrowded, and it lacks basic facilities.  

The children are aged 4 -19 years and most have lived in institutions for all of their lives. Many of them are abandoned children and as such have no right to basic education or health care. The years of deprivation, lack of stimulation and the lack of attachment to a parent figure have all led to the children becoming very sad, without hope and just merely existing. A few children have very profound disabilities but receive no specialist input to improve their situation.
For several years we have been trying to improve the orphanage building, provide resources and training and change attitudes. Unfortunately we have had little success and no lasting change has been made to the lives of the children.
2 in a Cot
It was this frustrating situation which made us rethink and we came to the conclusion that if we were to achieve any worthwhile change to the children's lives we had to take a different approach.
We decided that we had to take steps to get the children into a better and more stable environment, provide them with a consistent education and try to integrate them into the community. So in the year 2000 Sunshine Foundation was born.

The short term objectives were to

  • build or renovate a property to provide the first small family group home which would accommodate 8-10 children in a social family.
  • secure the cooperation of the Romanian authorities with the project so that the future of the children would be secure.
  • employ selective recruiting and provide comprehensive training so that the staff looking after the children would have the skills required.

In June 2001 we purchased our first property and began renovations and extensions to this property in Nov 2001. These were completed in Aug 2002 and the first 10 children moved into the house in Sep 2002. We have an agreement with the Romanian Child Protection Agency that they will fund the ongoing running costs of the house like staff, heat, food etc. In preparation for the children moving in on Sep 2002 we ran an extensive training program on childcare during Aug 2002, for a group of interested individuals. The staff who will live in our house and look after the 10 children was choosen from this group. These staff will live in the house which is named Casa Sfanta Maria.

Our longer-term objective is to build up to ten houses (providing we can raise the funds) so that we can rehouse all of the children living in Barsa Mica orphanage.