By Maria Ostafi and Yvonne Paris Rhodes
In Moldova, the poorest country in Europe, it’s common for parents to leave their children behind and travel to neighboring countries in search of work. Thousands of children are left behind each year to fend for themselves, stay with other family members, or become the ward of state-run institutions like orphanages or group homes.
Like many Moldovan children, Viorel Doibani and his younger brother Danu spent most of their childhood without their parents. The boys’ father was a criminal sentenced to a lengthy prison term. He terminated his parental rights and had no contact with his sons whatsoever. Their mother, who was homeless and suffered health problems, traveled abroad in search of a steady job. She dreamed of saving enough money to buy a house where she and her boys could live.
But without his parents or any family members to care for him, Viorel lived in a dingy, overcrowded state-run orphanage in Chisinau, the capital city of Moldova.
When children in Moldovan institutions age out of care or the facility shuts down – which is happening more frequently in recent years – the youth and children are simply turned out onto the streets to fend for themselves. When Viorel aged-out of care at the orphanage as a teenager, he found himself homeless, alone and with nowhere to turn.
BCFS’ overseas division, Children’s Emergency Relief International (CERI), operates sponsorship programs in Eastern Europe that help youth transitioning into adulthood by providing vocational training, education on human trafficking, and guidance on financial management and social values.
In Viorel’s darkest hour, CERI’s Transitional Care sponsor back in the U.S. helped provide him education, resources and motivation to stand on his own two feet. Thanks to financial and emotional support of his CERI sponsorship, Viorel began attending a local high school, where he earned a reputation as the best student in class because of his work ethic and responsible nature.
Viorel attended CERI’s recreational summer camps, where he was even able to meet and spend time with his CERI sponsor. At the summer camps, CERI taught him about God’s love, and he decided to turn his life over to God. He was committed to changing his heart and his circumstances. He began attending church regularly and was soon baptized.
“My sponsor is a very important person in my life,” says Viorel. “I’m so thankful for the help I received from my sponsor and from CERI. I’ve experienced so many good changes in my life.”
Viorel is hopeful about his future, and says his plan is to become a successful person with a good job.
Browse the profiles of children and youth like Viorel awaiting sponsorship at CERIkids.org. Change a child’s life today – become a sponsor!