Category Archives: The Orphanage

Caminul Felix

So, I’ve been feeling under the weather for the past few days here. The great thing about feeling under the weather though, is that you gain a new appreciation for things that you might not have noticed before. You don’t notice how nice it is to breathe without something holding you back. You don’t notice how nice it is to just chill or do things without being in pain. You don’t really realize how great it is to simply be whole and complete. But also, you gain a new appreciation for a smile when someone is feeling that way, the understanding that something has been touched that goes beyond the surface and the general “feeling bad” that is going on. You gain a new understanding of the meaningfulness of any show of love because when things are going bad for someone, that’s, a lot of times, when you are able to see who the person really is. But here’s the thing: I may have been feeling bad here for a few days, but are there are some people who suffer from more than just some sickness and whose deficiency goes far deeper than mine. There are some people who can’t breathe because they are being choked by memories, by their past, by loss, by insecurity, by instability. There are some people who can’t just chill or do things without being in pain, whether they have tried to numb themselves to it or tried to fix it by other means, because the issue is too fundamental. I have seen a lot of people like this: clarification – I have seen a lot of orphans like this. And until there is someone who pours into their lives to fill the gaps where something has been missing, that’s how things stay.

As I have looked at life, I have seen that pretty much every problem that a child has can be traced back to the family, specifically the parents. Every person needs love, and every child needs a family. State-run orphanages in Romania provide neither. I would tell you about some of the things that happen there and some of the stories of children who have been there but I don’t know if you would believe me. Let me put it the way that Mrs. Ciupe once stated it. Now, the Ciupe family has taken in many many orphans as a part of their family through the program over the years, and knows exactly the struggles of these children and what goes on there. She said, “The children that come out of there, aren’t normal kids.” However, there was something else to her statement: “but the kids that come out of Caminul Felix are.” What is Caminul Felix? Caminul Felix is a privately-run orphanage in Sinmartin funded by charity, an orphanage that Charis just happens to be connected with. The way that they operate is based on the family unit with the participating families living in a village-style community. So, two parents, with children or without, adopt several orphan children as their own, and raise them until they get older and leave. Each family has their own house and there are several such houses on the grounds. However, this process of adding new children to the family and raising them cycles for each family, with new children coming in for every one of those that leave, thus allowing as many children as possible to be a part of this program. Caminul Felix is also one of the orphanages that I will working with during my stay here in Romania! YAY!

I will be working specifically in Village 1 (Sinmartin), in House 1, with the lovely family of Loredana and Ovidiu Csoka. I will integrate myself into that family and be a tutor for the children there, working with them on their homework and lessons that they get when they go to school, whether that be English, Math, Romanian, Writing, History, helping them master the material. I will work to form relationships with the children individually, spending time with them, talking with them, encouraging them, playing with them, teaching them, and truly showing interest and investing in their lives. So, really, I’m not just being a tutor: I’m being a mentor and I’m being a friend through my capacity as a tutor. And here they are! 🙂


You may not think that ten children would be a handful, but you would be wrong. In fact, the first day that I went there, I might have been just a little bit overwhelmed, but that’s ok. I wasn’t sure exactly how everything was going to function, how I was going to go about the things that I was doing, where I would be most useful and helpful and needed the most, and things of that nature, but everything worked out so perfectly, it could have been a crossword puzzle. The children all have taken really well to me and it’s actually kind of funny how all of them want to do their homework with me and play with me and have me show them how to play mandolin and show me their pet chicken or fish all at the same time. It’s very humbling, but at the same time, it’s also exhilarating and extremely hilarious. Maybe it’s just because I love children, but I can’t even express to you how sweet they are, how open they are to love and be loved, how much they just want a friend, the way that they smile and light up when you give them some attention and encouragement, and how much hope I have for the future of these children. I just love everything about what I am doing right now so much, it’s spectacular. It’s also really cool (and hilarious of course, because everything about children is just really funny and silly and great) for me to see the kids, who unreservedly, unabashedly, and unequivocally do not like school, get excited about homework and the things that they are learning because they get to do it with me and I’m so honored that I get to cultivate this friendship with them and help them in life through that. It might have made me cry several times privately already, but that too is ok. [sniffle, sniffle] Distract focus: and here are some of the kids and me working on homework together: Romanian, Writing, and Math in the first one and English, Math, and History in the second one.



Between tutoring, music, playing soccer, pets, talking, and trying to organize everything so as to spend time with each child, I have been pretty busy, which is really wonderful, because I came here to help people and show them love, and that’s what I’m getting to do. So, this is all 100% spectacular!!! 🙂

There is so much to cover, even without going into excruciating detail, and I will try to cover as much of my work as I can as I go. However, I’m sure many of you were earnestly desiring to hear about jet lag and my ability to adapt and survive in life, so here goes. I went to sleep the first night with approximately zero problems getting to sleep, slept eight hours, and woke up the next morning feeling like 407 RON. I then proceeded to find out that people are the same everywhere in the world, just as I suspected, and continued living life and having a wonderful time with it. As I am doing right now. As you should be doing too, because life is too short to do otherwise. So, I swung by the city of Cluj this past weekend visiting my uncle Florin and we hit up the Festival of Lights from whence cometh this gloriously awesome-sauce candelabra.


Really, it was only fitting considering life. And Lumos. And the pursuit of lightening up the world with hope and love. And yes, as usual, that was on purpose. So, with that: grace and peace all you Lumos peoples!! 🙂

~David Gal-Chiş


P.S. Charis has a new website that they launched this week! HOORAH!

P.P.S. Caminul Felix has a website that was not launched this week but that is still really cool and you should check it out! HUZZAH!

Christmas Time!

So, there is no holiday here between Halloween and Christmas. Halloween really isn’t that big of a deal anyway so people get so excited about Christmas. We have already started decorating at the club. Some houses here even have lights on the outside like in the states, I will try to get photos of these! We have the tree up at the club at stockings are hung everywhere. The kids even wrote letters to Santa and to their sponsors! The teachers have been wearing Santa hats its so funny. At La Syrena, the Dominican Wal-Mart, they have been playing Christmas music for the past month and all the cashiers are wearing Santa hats. Here everyone that has a good job gets the holidays off and double pay to have a Christmas dinner or maybe a few presents. It’s really just a good dinner though, presents may not make an

appearance.  The government has decorated all of their buildings with lights, garland and wreaths. There are even a couple huge public Christmas trees. Dove gives the families more food to have a big dinner for Christmas and we get every child a gift of some sort. This year we also have a church doing Angel Tree with our kids so they will hopefully have a little something extra which is fantastic! Here are some pics of us decorating!

The Orphanage

First thing first, the video of the Citadel is taking forever to upload! I am going to try to let it finish over night tonight!

Ok, now that you kind of have a an idea of what Haiti is like let me give you a picture of the orphanage.  It is down a street that is well paved and lined with cement walls, which adds to the post-war feeling. Behind the wall is another gate further protecting the kids. The house is big and there is plenty of room for the kids. There are about 18 kids total; a baby girl and baby boy and the rest under the age of 10.  Four of the kids get to go to first grade. One of the house moms walks them to protect them from moto-concho drivers and to make sure they arrive. Father Andre the Priest who started and runs the orphanage says they get so excited to go to school or to go to mass outside the walls of the orphanage. There isn’t a park or civic center or anything for the kids to do outside the walls so leaving for any reason is a big treat.

In the courtyard of the house is a play set with swings and a slide for  the kids to play on all day. There are two bedrooms with bunk beds one room for girls and one for boys. A house mother sleeps in the room with them at night so if they need anything there is someone there. I know this for a fact because I was very concerned my first night there and Father Andre assured me there were taken care of in the night. There’s a kitchen that goes unused because the mothers cook outside over a fire.  Let me just say while we are on the subject that it is very hard to introduce change to the people on the island of Hispaniola. There is a stove and oven and they cook outside. There is a washer and dryer and they still wash by hand. Part of it has to do with power outages that happen often but as a rule change is not a welcome guest. The house also has an upstairs for visitors with a kitchen, two bathrooms and bedrooms, chapel and meeting room. The kids aren’t allowed up there to give people a break from endless swing pushing and games of ring around the rosie.

Every other day the litte kids have preschool. The day starts with morning prayers and then breakfast.  After breakfast it is time to learn reading, math and all other kinds of wonderful pre-k things! Snack at 10, more school, then done at lunch at 12. They then get to play for the rest of the day. There are house mothers working all day cooking and doing laundry. There is also a care taker and his assistants. They all love the kids and help to watch them, but there is so much work to do don’t always have time to play. This is why having volunteers come to play with them is so great. We get to hug on and play with adorable little kids the whole time! It is wonderful and yet a little overwhelming, which makes the upstairs room great for a quick break.

You can’t adopt Father Andre’s kids. He has a great plan for the future of these children. Right now there is only the house, but eventually there will be a school and more children. They will help to give back to Haiti and grow the economy and be good members of society. This is an  amazing idea becuase if there is one thing I learned it’s that Haiti has to help Haiti.

Father Andre is Haitian himself.  This all started when he was a young boy going into middle school and his parents didn’t have enough money to send him to school.  He wrote a letter to the Canadian nuns to find out if there was a way he could still go to school. They all had a meeting and the nuns paid for him to go to school. While in school he asked if he could become a priest, he didn’t know because he had never seen a black priest. They started him as an alter boy and when he was 15 told the priest he was ready to be ordained because he knew all of the prayers. He finished school, went to seminary, undergrad in Canada in Psychology and masters degree at Ball state. When he finished he came back to Haiti and opened the orphanage.

So there you are next stop Citadel!