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December the 6th was Saint Nicolas day: a very important date for children and students in some Western countries. Saint Nicolas is like Santa Claus : he comes in the houses to give chocolates and presents to the children. Here, in Romania, they also celebrate this day. In Brasov, during St Nicolas celebration, there is also the ‘lighting up’. This event is an important and beautiful moment, meant to open winter festivities. During this period, Brasov is called the ‘Fairytale City”.
And There Was Light
5.20 in the council square in Brasov: a big crowd, people everywhere pushing to be near the Christmas Tree. Projects Abroad volunteers’ meeting point was the Nativity Scenery, in the council square. We didn’t know where some volunteers were, but the festivities didn’t wait. So, few minutes later, we were trying to approach the center of the crowd, to have a better view.
At 5.30 Christmas carols started. A group formed by a majority of women was singing some typical Romanian carols. Problem: everyone wanted to see them, so they pushed a lot to get near the stage. We decided to stay near the Christmas Tree because we went to see the ‘Lighting Up’. We could listen and see the group from everywhere in the center of Brasov, as there were some widescreens in the square.
And finally, a little bit before 6 o’clock in the evening, the miracle happened. It started with all the people counting down the seconds. It was like New Year’s Eve, I almost said ‘Happy New Years’. The lightning up of the Christmas Tree was fantastic, really beautiful. Not all the lights were turned on in the same time. First, it was the small lights, afterwards the balls and thirdly, the circles from the bottom to the ...
After six years in a successul career in investment banking, Felix Wickenkamp (31), was searching for a new challenge.
“I had a fascination with Africa for a long time and I heard a lot of good things about Tanzania,” says Felix. “I also think volunteering is a great way to learn about the country, the culture and the people. Plus, I’m really interested in microfinance.”
Felix received a master’s degree in international business studies in 2006 from Maastricht University, making his academic and professional experience highly valuable to an underdeveloped country. He departed Germany in October for a one month microfinance volunteer placement in Arusha, Tanzania.
The microfinance project assists local women’s groups who are single or widowed and have individual and collective businesses. Projects Abroad provides the women with business, marketing and bookkeeping training in addition to an interest-free loan to start or improve a business idea.
“The level of responsiblity is pretty high because it’s more or less run by the volunteers. At the moment we are a team of five along with the project coordinator. Our responsiblities are really doing administrative work and implementing new initiatives and training.”
Felix says that the volunteers spend half their time in the office doing administrative work such as writing reports, reviewing loan documents, feeding the cashflow sheet and preparing trainings. The other half of their time is spent in the field visiting the women’s groups to collect money from loans, conduct feasibility studies or provide additional training.
“I tried to make an impact by proposing new administrative ideas. I also developed a training that we will launch next ...
Hello everyone and Happy Wednesday,
It's the middle of the week and Projects Abroad Romanian Team is soooooo busy with selecting and sorting out donations, presents and prepare surprises for the children from placements we collaborate with.
Besides this, the drama group is doing very well, working hard on rehearsing for a Christmas Performance. Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, our Black Juice Group comes at the office and works together with our drama volunteer, Elly Pugh, with our journalism volunteer, Laetitia Delmarche and with myself, Alexandra Ichim. We plan to perform two plays in front of parents, students, friends and children from foster homes, around Christmas. The main performance is 'Grinch Who Stole Christmas' and the other one represents three monologues of Santa Claus, Mrs Claus and Brumbly, The Elf.
Students are working hard and they are giving their best to form a performance that pleases the audience and that makes us, the coordinators proud. The Black Juice Group is formed of 9 members who are performing the roles exposed between brackets: Elena Teja (The Narrator), Maria Teja (The Grinch), Oana Juravlea (Cindy Lou), Ionut Butiu (Father of Cindy Lou), Madalina (The Mayor), Sabina Sancu (The Narrator), Sabina Cristian ( Max, the dog; Brumbly, The Elf), Alex Coca (Santa Claus), Diana Chirovan (Mrs Claus). They are very tallented and they are enthusiastic about everything they do within the drama club. Some of them will perform for their first time, so they are also very nervous about the plays.
Our newly arrived drama volunteer, Elly Pugh, already started preparing interesting helpful activities for the group, in order to get the best out of them. She is passionate with her work and she is willing to make these students work hard ...
“I’m thinking of becoming a doctor so I wanted to see what it would be like,” explains 19 year old Peder Kjeldsen about his decision to volunteer abroad.
Peder and his bestfriend Frederik Kristensen set out on a three month medical volunteer placement in Arusha, Tanzania.
As part of the experience, Peder and Frederik lived with a local Tanzanian family allowing them to fully immerse themselves in the cultural cuisine, lifestyle and language. Peder reports to work at a local government hospital five days a week observing and assisting the medical staff.
“Projects Abroad helps the hospital get more staff, which makes the nurses less stressed because they have many patients. Typically there should be 4 patients per nurse, but in Tanzania there are 8-10 patients per nurse. On a normal day I work in the medical ward. I follow the doctor around or escort patients to the x-ray room, take blood pressure or the temperature of the patient. When the doctor is done, I follow the nurse around and help her to get the medicine for the patients.”
Thus far, the experience has been very educational for Peder. He’s been able to learn how to give injections and take blood pressure for the first time, as well as participate in a medical outreach in a rural community.
“It makes me happy that I’m here at a hospital out in the country and not in Arusha. Its very poor and dry, but that’s not what makes me happy. We are helping people who are sick and not feeling well and we do it without people having to pay anything.”
Pedae found that there were many differences between his home and Tanzania in terms of culture and medicine.
“There are many diseases in Tanzania that we don’t have in Denmark. And we ...