A note from the founder, Jerry Skinner:
In 1997 I was teaching a class on active listening skills at a pastor’s conference in Kungsbaka, Sweden. One of my students was a repatriated Romanian who was traveling frequently to his home city of Constanta, Romania to help work with the hundreds of thousands of children with severe handicaps that had just become known to the west after the fall of the Communist government in 1989. We quickly became friends and he invited me to accompany his group on a trip to Constanta. Three other adults and five teens from Faith Church in Milford went on that first trip in June 1998. The event was all about waking up to a world we could only imagine. There were children in the parks, on the beach, in abandoned buildings and in the sewer system. They were rejected and treated with shame and hatred by the entire society. We were there for 10 days and it was powerful. I told the Romanians we would be back, they doubted the truth of my statement. Many had told them things like that, no one had ever meant it.
That was twenty-five years ago, we have been back. We have been back almost every year. We opened a facility in 2004 and now we employ staff to care for our friends. We have learned much about the culture and their lives. We have invested time, treasure, and tears. RHM is now truly Romanian.
In 1999, RHM was incorporated in the US. RHM-Ro was incorporated in 2004 in Romania. In 2004, we hired a young married couple, Silviu and Gabi Ghereben, to act as our Program Administrator and Doctor respectively. We also hired Liviu Marin to act as social worker and teacher.
In 2004 into 2005 we purchased a small retail space on the bottom floor of a block of high-rise tenement flats. By the fall of 2005, RHM-Ro. was a daily year-long program. Later in 2005 we purchased a handicapped accessible van and several years later we purchased a second van. By that time we were fully staffed, Silviu, Dr. Gabi and Liviu were full time. A psychologist named Mirela has had a big impact on the family’s lives. An accountant and a government required auditor filled out our paid staff.
RHM-Ro has recently taken on two volunteer teachers from a government run program in the city. We also enjoy teens from a local high and adults with the Romania Disabilities Ministry that volunteer. Finally in 2013 the black-market grocery next door went out of business. We miraculously raised the purchase price in two months, connected the spaces with a door, worked on a complete rehab and opened the new center much to everyone’s surprise by year’s end.
The program consists of practical and language education, medical care and medicines, physical therapy and exercise, crafts, stories and teaching, Bible lessons, social activities and much more. During the summer the Americans return for an annual summer camp, like a big, noisy VBS and at Christmas RHM-Ro holds a Christmas celebration.
Times have been tough, especially during the Pandemic when we were forced to meet outside in parks with as many as we could. We also suffered a number (3) of deaths among our parental group and lost two of our Foundation Members to illness and an accident. Please pray for the families left behind.
In 2022 RHM’s long time Social Worker, Liviu Marin needed to leave Constanta and move to Germany for family reasons. We are saddened to lose Liviu, Simona, and family, however life changes do happen and this one was also part of God’s plan. This cut out one of RHM’s community programs. “The Value of a Man” was taught by Liviu in the Constanta Public Schools from 2005 through 2019. We hope to find a new teacher and resume the program now that the Pandemic is over. Changing the local populations attitude and knowledge about young persons with disabilities is critical to RHM.
2023 is our 25th Anniversary, we will celebrate the RHM longevity this year. We need to hire two additional staff. One to replace Liviu, who after many years of service is moving to Germany with his wife Simona and his family. This is the first replacement in our full 25 years. Thank you Liviu and Simona. We thank Liviu for almost 20 years of diligent service and his kind heart.
We are blessed, thank you all for your support and prayers.