Greetings from Bucharest! My name is Tiago and I’m staying in an EVS project between Rota Jovem in Portugal and A.C.T.O.R. organization. We talked last time about volunteers intervention is special schools so today I decided to touch the subject of one of the most challenging part of the program, the animation in hospitals!
A.C.T.O.R. has partnerships with four different hospitals in which they expect our presence one or two times per week for about 2h each visit. In hospitals we perform different types of activities, clinical animation which includes face painting, origami techniques, balloon modeling, juggling, crafting, theater, intercultural games and songs, performances with dance, music and acting. Since we volunteers have a non-formal methodology we try every week to prepare diverse types of animation in between the groups that visit each hospital, like we prepare for special schools but in this context we never know how many kids will be there so we planned not so specific activities.
We have mostly on Tuesdays and Thursdays the hospital “Institutul de Pneumoftiziologie M. Nasta” aka Lacul Bucura in this one the kids have problems with pneumonia. The children and pre-teens here stay for more time and some of them live there because of their family situation. So in this one, we can do activities more complex and challenging. Sometimes we have contact with families but it’s very uncommon. The activities there tend to be very diverse; we also tried to do workshops with them, one time we did paint with feet workshop with music and movement; some of the volunteers had prepared a shadow theater performance to show them, we did a t-shirt painting workshop also. Here we can plan something really nice for teenagers and for children, they appreciate it!
The next one is on Wednesdays, the “Spitalul Clinic de Urgenta pt Copii G. Alexandrescu”, we act in a room where there are children or pre-teens who were victims of burn accidents and they are properly able to move and safely treated, we don’t encounter so much serious cases in that level of the hospital. Here we communicate and put the parents or other family relative to be a part of our activities, it’s important to have this type of exchange. Mostly in this hospital we talk with parents who say to us that we bring a lot of entertainment and fun to the children and that’s very good!
Some of them appreciate our presence and our work here in Bucharest even they ask the reason why we are here. I talked one time with a mother of a little boy that couldn’t stay out of bed because of an injury in the right leg, she was very happy to see us there and to share that moment with us because he was the only child that day and we were three volunteers and we decided to give him a lot of animation and activities which were playing, doing origami, balloon animation, coloring, sing together and having fun, his mother was so interested and grateful to see us there just to give a little bit of light and fun. She told us that our work in hospitals is very important and we should go more times while she was saying that she decided to call by video her other son that was at home to see us play with the little boy Rafi. So more than given animation, after hearing a lot of good feedback from families we feel that our work, although our presence is quite fast there, each week we do make a change and difference in the stay of children in the hospital, sometimes they are only that time or a little bit longer. We as volunteers from other cultures and countries we can represent an image of support and to give more awareness about solidarity and consciousness.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays not only we have Lacul Bucura but also the hospital “Centrul de Recuperare pt Copii Nicolae Robanescu” in this one we find children or even teenagers with physical and neuro-psycho-motor deficiencies, we prepare a big rounded table in the middle of one of the lobbies of this hospital, we put some big benches around it and we wait for some children to do activities. We go two times per week so some of them already know our presence there as well the parents and its fun for us to see one particular kid more than one time although we always want them to get better. In Recuperare the flow of kids is bigger and we are four to five volunteers there to assist them, the activities pass from painting to face paint, do origami with them, drawing, songs and dances, crafting and so on… It’s important to challenge them and give them some purpose with the activities; most of them can really use their upper body strength so we can do a lot of things with them! We have there the presence of families and parents that sometimes joins us and they help us too in translating or even to do some craft, we talk with them when we can if we aren’t so busy or concentrate with the activity. Some parents are really interested in our presence others are more attentive to their child, others like to see from far, it goes in different ways. The ones that are with us we try to communicate with them asking what they think of the activities implemented that day, if they like them or not and what they feel about our time in the hospital. The answers are always positive and encouraging, saying that although we are not professionals we do a good job to animate and entertain their children while they stay in the hospital for a few time, they also question us about the reasons of our stay in Bucharest, how many money we receive and if we have conditions to be here. So we encage a little bit with the parents and explain our position and they are very empathic and understanding. One time I was with a girl that was in a wheelchair and I was singing to her and her mother decided to take picture of the two of us and she was very happy and sympathetic, she thanked a lot! Other day we were singing and playing music with a guitar of a volunteer and I was playing with a little boy that was in a wheelchair too, he had some psycho-motor deficiency and his mother was very open and responsive to our moment together, she also took picture of us! Most of the parents are like this, very interested and want their kids to be a part of the activities and animation!
On Fridays we have the hospital “Spitalul Clinic de Urgenta pt Copii Marie Sklodowska Curie” where we go every week to the hall of children and teens who suffer from blood related diseases. We consider this hospital the most challenging because we instead of being in a public room like the other ones in this we go from room to room where the kids are installed, we never know how many children there will be so we planned general clinical animation with different materials for different age groups. We volunteers have in this hospital the presence of families and parents that are supporting their kids so we are closer to them, we always try to communicate with the kid and parent and work together. We are surprised sometimes by the level of interest of the families that know how to speak one or more of our languages and actually they try to get to know us! So for them our visit there is rewarding especially if their kid isn’t in a good situation, we bring some fun and color in their stay there. We try to involve as much as possible by exchanging languages and knowledge between different cultures especially trough out the games and activities it is a very successful day when we volunteers can bring everyone together.
Our work in the hospitals is the most satisfying as well challenging for those reasons, the parents being there also can bring the children closer to us and together we create awareness to diversity and solidarity which is one of our goals when we go to each one of the hospitals, not only to entertain but also to help build a bridge to consciousness. In our environment we deal with families who struggle financially or even with kids who have issues in their family, we don’t feel hate but sometimes we feel a lack of attention and nourishment from them and our presence there can help to raise awareness. In our programs we are able to see the social differences and the social gaps in here how difficult it is for them because they are in this type of ambient we don’t feel that they suffer from any hate speech but suffer from indifference of the other social classes. Our job as volunteers is to bring these so called social classes to come together and help each other.
Tiago Carmo from Portugal