Cheers and cuddles when Aurelia and Cassandra come to visit

Aurelia is a volunteer in our Home Start program. Join now as she visits the Guineru family. It is easy to see why this scheme is worth its weight in gold for children in disadvantaged families.


Adina's red car is a familiar sight in the countryside outside Craiova. Children and adults at the roadside wave as our well-used Dacia rolls by. Cassandra is behind the wheel and as a coordinator for the volunteers she has become well acquainted with the road standard in the villages. It is dusty violently on the rough gravel road. The sun is shining from a cloudless Romanian sky, it is 33 summer degrees and windless.

Today we give a ride to Aurelia Longu (30) who will visit the Guineru family in the village of Golombo, a drive approx. 45 kilometers away from the big city. Aurelia is in the third year of the Home Start program, and must be counted among the veterans in the corps of adult volunteers that the Fundatia Adina Foundation has built up.

Mother and father Guineru have nine children in the herd. The oldest have left, two of the middle ones are still in high school, while the youngest are waiting anxiously for Aurelia. They know that this will be a real cuddle day where the little ones get all the attention for a total of two hours. We meet them up in the yard, but their dog marks all too clearly that it does not like strangers and we pull away to neutral grounds.

Aurelia and the three little ones settle under a shady tree while Cassandra tries to get enough air in a included football. There is reading time under the tree and cards are played. The toddlers whisper confidants to Aurelia who listens and asks with one child on each knee. She is a single mother with two children herself, but this surplus person finds time to care for others. She knows the little ones desperately need attention. Once a week, Aurelia is picked up by Cassandra and driven to the flock of children in Golombo.

Then it's time for football with a ball without air, but who cares about the equipment when it can be played so the dust is around the ball and legs. Bowling with ball and empty bottles is arranged, and we adults receive clear instructions from the little ones who control the show.

Dad Marian comes cycling by in the scorching sun. He works on the farms in the neighborhood, and gets a solid dose of hugs from his little ones before he steps on to the next employer. Tonight, his kids have a lot to tell about when he gets home, such as how bad some of the adults were at throwing punctured ball in the bottle.

Then the two-hour visit ends with genuine hugs and assurances that Aurelia and Cassandra will return next week as well. The key to Home Start's success lies in the words attention and play - so simple and so effective.