When I first started at the hospital, my Romanian was very poor. I could speak a little and understood even less. The poor nurses spoke almost nill. This was a very frustrating situation and added some tension to the situation. At first I thought that the nurses were just heartless. I mean really... who could let children sit in poopy diapers for over four hours or simply prop a bottle and let the gruel run out onto the bed and never burp the baby? Who could be so cruel?
However, as the months and in some cases years went by, I had a change of heart. Who was I to judge so harshly, to think I could change these babies lives single handedly? You see these women were NOT cruel or heartless! In fact, they had struggles probably so much more than most of you readers and definitely more than I.
Communism is a difficult task master and these woman had all spent the majority of their lives under it. Going to church was a sin, speaking Hungarian on the streets was dangerous, basic necessities sometimes hard to find, bread lines were a way of life. Now that communism had ended and more commodities were entering Romania there was no money to purchase them. They worked for whatever the government paid them in a hospital that was a throwback to the 1940's and crumbling around their ears. They worked with very few supplies. ( Once after I had been very ill and had some leftover, unused syringes, I asked if the ward would like them? They were gratefully snatched from my hands and put to use) The rooms were dismal, gray and like I mentioned before, smelly. And they toiled there year. after year. after year. with. no. change.
After about a year of me working there, I starting to notice a change. I always played my music (for the babies), every visit I put up fresh window and wall clings, (for the babies) I made sure there was ample diapers and wipes now ( for the babies) I bought bright toys and books and walkers and clothes (all for the babies)! Slowly, it dawned on me that whenever I re-decorated or brought something new into the ward that the nurses would all crowd around and ooh and aah! They started humming to the music and then I saw the smiles... the delight on their faces. Their work environment had desensitized them. They had needed to put up a defense over their hearts because there was Nothing for them to do to help the babies in their suffering. They weren't mean! They had just been beaten down and had no hope.
When this realization struck me,
I remember crying. Crying at my arrogance, crying for the lives that they had led and crying for the hope that I saw enter that ward. Very slowly the nurses started to change. They would come into my room ( which they affectionately coined my gradinita~ my preschool) and talk with me, then they would touch a baby while they talked, then pick one up and cuddle it while we talked. Then one day someone came in and asked if she could help me feed the ten babies I had in there! No one had ever offered to help before and I knew that there had been a major breakthrough in their hearts at that point! Praise God!
These women have become friends of mine and I love going "home" each year to visit with them and work with them! They need to be recognized for their sacrifices and their hard work! The hospital is now been repaired and redecorated. It has been modernized for the most parts. There are many foundations involved and many volunteers and the babies are given a better start in life. But the the nurses and assistants there have a happier place to work now and I think that they deserve it! God Bless, Ladies! Binecuventare!