Walking and traveling by car in Bucharest, Budapest and Kiev I'm surprised at the number of stray dogs wandering through the streets and parks. A friend told me that this is a sign of the "Economic Crisis" here in Eastern Europe. Many people who had dogs as pets can no longer feed the dogs so they abandon them. It is sad. Also there are many construction projects that seem to have been abandoned overnight. Cranes stand like statues, unfinished masonry and siding is changing color with the weather, giving the strange appearance of being old and new at the same time.
Yesterday, Michael and I visited the Aspern Center, a program for children abandoned or taken away from their parents because the parents are unfit to care for them. We sang and played together and then visited with Vera, the director and founder of the center. She is a marvelous advocate for children, community living, families, and the Ukraine but her job is made more difficult by beurocrats who undermine her efforts with absurd policies and greedy maneuvers.
Vera showed us photos of a home that she and the children worked on for years to restore it and make in a place where they could live more like a family. A government official decided the government could make better use of the home and they were told they had three days to move out. When Vera fought this and asked what she and the children should do the official replied, "It's not my problem!" Thankfully people like Vera are fighting for the children. She showed us photos of several children who have been adopted and are now living happily in family homes.
The Aspern center is being supported by the International School of Brussels and the students in Cheryl Terry's Class. Cheryl is a BOPH board member and a terrific teacher. I'll be working with Cheryl and her class in May when I visit Belgium. It was through Cheryl and a friend of hers named Bart, who volunteers at the center, that I was told about Aspern. I'm hoping we can find a way to connect with some of the these children through writing, music, art or some form of assistance.