Ionel*, a seven-year-old boy, is a student in a large group in kindergarten, and he came to stay at the “Emergency Reception Center for Victims of Domestic Violence — Casa ADRA” in Romania, run by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency in that country. He came to Casa ADRA with his mother and younger sister because of his father’s violent behavior. More than his younger sister, Ionel had witnessed the many arguments between his parents due to excessive drinking, gambling addiction and their father’s neglect.
When Ionel arrived at Casa ADRA, he only ate salty pasta, made only a few sounds and answered questions with “yes” or “no”. Lack of proper nutrition, parental neglect and abusive family environment had left their mark on his development.
Immediately after his arrival at Casa ADRA, the boy received support from the team members, who worked with him for several months on cognitive, emotional and social development, and managed to diversify his diet. Currently, he is recovering and progressing steadily day by day.
“Ionel is an adorable little child,” said ADRA psychologist Mariana Roș. “He is intelligent, eager for the attention and affection of those around him. He has made great progress; he comes alone with the notebook to my office to show me what he has written.
Roș said that Ionel likes to be appreciated. “He focuses beautifully on the writing; now he knows numbers and letters; he can speak short sentences, although a few months ago he only made a few sounds,” she said. “I’m happy with his results, although I know that continued support is needed so the boy can integrate into school in the fall.”
Ionel’s mother and the two children had to leave their home empty-handed, with important documents in a trash bag so the attacker wouldn’t realize they were leaving, Roș said. “As a professional, my satisfaction is to be able to contribute, so that they feel better. I feel energized every day seeing how people like Ionel and his family can overcome the ordeal they have been through.
Between 2009 and 2021, Casa ADRA assisted more than 3,552 victims of domestic violence. Of these, 1,015 were accommodated in the establishments.
The ADRA Romania project aims to seek the social reintegration of victims of domestic violence through shelter, social and psychological counseling, emergency medical assistance, food, and referral to a lawyer. The lives of those housed and assisted at the center have changed because they have understood that a different way of life is possible, ADRA Romania leaders said. It is a way to live without physical, verbal, economic, mental, sexual and religious violence. It is based on spiritual values and cultivates healthy habits in food, exercise, training and recreation.
*Name has been changed to protect privacy. the original version of this story was published by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency in Romania.