Ionel,* a seven-year-old boy, is a student in a large group in kindergarten, and he came to stay at the “Emergency Reception Center for Victims of Domestic Violence — Casa ADRA” in Romania, managed by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency in that country. He came to Casa ADRA with his mother and younger sister because of his father’s violent behavior. More than his younger sister, Ionel had witnessed the numerous disputes between his parents due to excessive drinking, a gambling addiction, and neglect by their father.
When Ionel arrived at Casa ADRA, he would eat only salted pasta, make just a few sounds, and answer questions with “yes” or “no.” The lack of proper nutrition, the parents’ neglect, and the abusive environment in the family had left their mark on his development.
Immediately after arriving at Casa ADRA, the boy received support from the team members, who worked with him for several months on cognitive, emotional, and social development, and managed to diversify his diet. Currently he is recovering, making steady progress by the day.
“Ionel is an adorable little child,” ADRA psychologist Mariana Roș said. “He is intelligent, eager for the attention and affection of those around him. He’s made great progress; he’s coming alone with the notebook to my office to show me what he’s written.”
Roș said that Ionel likes to be appreciated. “He focuses on writing beautifully; now he knows the numbers and the letters; he can speak short sentences, even though a few months ago he only made a few sounds,” she said. “I am glad for his results, although I know that continuous support is needed for the boy to be able to integrate into school in the fall.”
Ionel’s mother and the two children had to leave their home empty-handed, with important documents in a garbage bag so that the abuser did not realize that they were leaving, Roș explained. “As a professional, my satisfaction is that I can contribute, so they feel better. I get energized every day as I see how people like Ionel and his family can overcome the ordeal they went through.”
Between 2009 and 2021, Casa ADRA assisted more than 3,552 victims of domestic violence. Out of those, 1,015 were lodged at the facilities.
The ADRA Romania project aims to seek the social reintegration of victims of domestic violence through shelter, social and psychological counseling, emergency medical assistance, food, and referral to a lawyer. The lives of the people lodged and assisted at the center were changed because they understood a different way of living is possible, ADRA Romania leaders said. It is a way of living without physical, verbal, economic, mental, sexual, and religious violence. It relies on spiritual values and cultivates healthy habits in diet, exercise, training, and recreation.
* The name has been changed to protect privacy. The original version of this story was posted by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency in Romania.