by Bob Doman
A lot of folks, particularly in the USA, have a hard time describing where in the world Romania is or are able to tell you much of anything about Romania (which unfortunately speaks to our educational system); but ask about Transylvania and everyone’s interest perks up and they conjure up visions of Dracula.
This last month I spent almost two weeks in the mountains of Transylvania with about 200 of our NACD family members from five different countries. We were practically under the shadow of Bran Castle, or what is widely known as Dracula’s castle.
This event was made possible through the efforts of many folks, but particularly little Tudor’s mom, Andreea Dumitru, and Teodora Pop, our NACD Romanian Coordinator.
Andreea’s efforts resulted in the advertising company Blitz TV sponsoring the event and arranging for free rooms and breakfasts for all of the families at the Cheile Gradistei Resort. Without this help many of the families would not have been able to participate.
There were two primary reasons for orchestrating the Transylvania Experience. The first was to provide a venue for an in-person evaluation for the children in the region, particularly Romania and Bulgaria, and the second was to provide an opportunity for the families to spend time together. To varying degrees families with children with developmental and genetic issues find it difficult to integrate their children into many, if not most, social situations. Getting to spend time with other families with similar issues who understand, permitting them to share support, encouragement, and to just be able to relax, accept, and socialize was a great unique experience. Sadly, Romania and the surrounding countries are often not very accepting of many of our children; so it was particularly important to hold this event in Romania.
Our Romania chapter, which includes many Bulgarian families, is certainly our most proactive NACD chapter, doing everything they can to support each other and to educate other families in their countries about the hope that NACD offers. Our families travel from around the country to participate and share their NACD experience at every possible event that they think might help another family learn about the hope for their children. They understand that NACD’s family-centered approach means that any family in any place in the world is only a call, an email, or a Skype visit away from their coach and evaluator on any day and that they can help their children irrespective of what may or may not exist in their area.
The feedback from the event from the families was outstanding, and everyone wants to repeat it next year, even with the understanding that we may not have funding assistance. At the families request, I have happily committed to coming back again next year (I didn’t have a chance to visit the castle on this trip, so I need another visit to Transylvania) and we will hopefully return to the same spot and show off and share the children’s progress and help generate some new memories to add to those we created this year.
Personally, it was a bit demanding. It took twenty-two hours to get there, arriving in the evening and starting the evaluations first thing the next morning; but it was truly a marvelous experience. These are incredible families! Being able to relax and interact with the families and share meals and a little down time outside of the evaluation process was extremely rewarding. Perhaps some of my greatest memories are of watching the children with issues and all of the typical siblings interacting together as naturally as if they had know each other forever. The typical siblings were amazing to watch. They instinctively knew how and when to help and how to communicate with or just be with a new special needs child they had just met minutes before. Speaking of communication, the majority of the parents spoke English and often an additional language or two, as did the children. I loved all the “Hi Bob”s I heard from so many of the kids who were just learning to talk as they walked in for their evaluations.
We have some hope that other NACD chapters and groups around the country and the world will come together and do more to help build their regional community of NACD families.
Lesson to be learned: We do better as part of a community that shares a common approach, common ambitions, and a belief that the primary responsibility for our children and the best people to help our children are we, the parents. We can make a difference and change the lives and futures of our children.
As always it is an honor and a privilege to be involved with such incredible families and children.
For more photos and a daily journal of Bob’s trip, please visit our Facebook page!
Testimonials from our Romania Attendees
I also wanted to write a few words about this experience, but it is so hard to write about everything in a couple of phrases. 🙂
For me it was an amazing and different and new experience, even though I am with NACD for 2 years and a half now and I´ve been before to Bucharest to help Bob with translations. This time I also took part in the organisation of the event and it was amazing. Meeting families for the first time, seeing other again and listening to everyone´s story, sharing opinions and advises and being there with Bob during the eval was a HUGE learning experience for me. I am confident that my decision to stay in Romania and dedicate myself to this cause and to the NACD families in Romania was the correct and the best one! I am honored and humbled working with the NACD staff and with all of you here in the Romanian chapter!!!
The experience in Cheile Gradistei was beautiful and full of emotions. We waited eagerly for this moment. We couldn’t wait to meet Bob Doman, and the impression of him is a great one. We feel that he is a very good person and very involved in what he is doing. The kindness with which he is looking at the children makes you trust that what he is saying is good for the little ones. The parents are great, full of hope and positive. We left the place trusting in the NACD program and trusting in ourselves as a family that we took the best decision when we joined the program. The landscape helped us to relax and to spend some family quality time. Even though we had to leave earlier than scheduled, the presence of the other kids and parents made the days feel very short and filled with great moments. Thank you for everything!
I need to say that we are grateful for a great weekend. Yes it was beautiful, but meeting with Bob (this time Matei was OK and awake comparing to last year) was a huge reinforcement for us. We also got really useful information from Teo and from other parents that gave us courage to push for more changes for Matei.
You know what the experience at Cheile Gradistei makes me think at? We are thought that from the 3: frequency, intensity and duration, the most important is the intensity. So this experience was not as much duration as is was high intensity! Exactly like in the NACD activities: high intensity, so that you will want more!!! So that it will be forever in your mind and in your heart!
It was a great experience, both because of meeting people with which we share the same vision of recovery and of the joy in our children’s eyes enjoying the fresh air with us and other children like them. Meeting Bob face to face again revived our hope and trust in the complexity of the program and in our capacity to obtain great results.
For me this experience was revealing! I saw my child with different eyes and my soul was filled with hope. Meeting the other parents was as important, feeling their support and full understanding. To be able to talk with people that totally understand was something that I wished for for a long time. Besides the NACD family it is very difficult to find so much understanding and good advice. Now I feel that I have recharged ‘my batteries’ and we can keep going with so much hope. Thank you so much NACD!
It was wonderful seeing Bob again and getting to meet old friends that we have known merely in the on line. The children had a great time and loved to make new friends. It was a great time of connecting and reconnecting.
For us it was a first on multiple levels. Our first evaluation, first time meeting Bob Doman, first contact with a community of this type, first time seeing how a program looks like. So far we are loving everything that we discovered. We start this road filled with trust and extremely motivated to learn how to implement the program correctly.
The experience of meeting other NACD families was a great and interesting one. I can only bow in front of all this people that I got the chance to meet. They are an example worth following.
Thank you so much for this experience. And we cannot wait to see you all next year!
For us, the Hlatca family, this year evaluation was another reason for hope and joy: after one year of vacation we finally were able to start the program again. We were happy to see Mr. Bob Doman again and he encouraged us and gave us new hopes for Tudor. This year´s location was a very beautiful one and we felt great there. The evenings were the best, having the opportunity to meet new NACD families and spend time together, to share experiences and to enjoy our beautiful children with which we played a lot. Mr. Bob Doman spent some time with us in the evenings and he is such a warm and very friendly person. A big thank you also for those who organised this very successful event!