Meet Our Doctors

May 13, 2011

Open Door Medical Clinic – Bucharest

Did you know Mia’s Children has our very own medical team?

Okay, well not exactly, but we do have a special place to take the kids if they get sick or need checkups.

Drs. Linda and Milt Hanson, a US couple, run a medical mission in Bucharest called Open Door Medical Center.

From their website:

Situated in the city of Bucharest, capital of Romania, Open Door Medical Center is a full-service family medicine clinic that primarily serves low-income Romanians, gypsies, and refugees from Africa and the Middle East. Services include prenatal care and well-child care, geriatrics, and preventive care. The medical staff includes Drs. Milton and Linda Hanson, associate professors with University of Minnesota School of Medicine.

Most patients are very low-income Romanians, many of whom make less than $40 per month. The Romanian government provides no safety net medical care, and most low-income persons simply go without, but for the charity care offered at Open Door.

Refugees from Africa, and Iraqis and Iranians living in Romania also frequent Open Door Medical Center, as do some Americans and Western Europeans living in Romania.

Open Door’s two physicians are a husband and wife team. Milton and Linda Hanson are associate professors with University of Minnesota School of Medicine.They first came to Romania in 1994, learned the Romanian language, received their hard-won Romanian medical licenses, and then initiated the Open Door Medical Foundation in 1997.

For many years Mia has been able to bring the children and her own family to the center for quality, compassionate health care. What a blessing in a country with overburdened medical programs and a struggling economy.

Learn more about Open Door Medical Center and how you could get involved with their work.


Who Will Love the Roma?

April 15, 2011

A woman begs on the street in Bucharest

France is again returning Roma people back to their home country of Romania, even though the practice has been controversial.

The displacement of the Roma population is at least partly political. Many Roma people have squatted in France and live there illegally in conditions much like a refugee camp. The decision to destroy those quarters and move the Roma back to their home countries began in late summer of 2010, as part of French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plan to crack down on illegal immigration and crime.

Regardless of my views on France’s action and the immigration issues that surround it, one question that stands out to me is, “Who will love these marginalized people?”

France claims that the Roma live on the outskirts of society. But whether they are in Romania or in France, they are blocked from employment. They receive little to no education – often because the parents will not encourage school attendance, but sometimes because they are denied access or bullied by educators once there. They have almost no path for moving up in the world. Without the encouragement and opportunities to learn to read and write, it is very difficult for them to integrate into any community.

When Mia’s Children first started, one of the biggest tasks was ensuring that all of the kids would get an education. Roma students who were willing to attend school were treated badly by their teachers and ignored. Mia would have to tutor them for hours in the afternoon, because essentially they were not given any attention in class compared to the other students.

The problem continues to this day. Mia has found it very discouraging trying to get education for Roma children who were born without birth certificates. The country does not recognize such children as people (without a birth certificate, you obviously were never born!). And as non-persons, they can not be in school.

Mia has managed to open a path for these students by teaching them herself. God bless her.

Who else will love these unloved children? Will you? Will I? Is it acceptable to say that a child found in a trash can with dark skin is less a child? The Roma people are looked down on as nomads and criminals, but when a person is blocked from all employment crime becomes normal. It is a terrible cycle that can only be addressed through Roma children becoming properly integrated, educated, faithful men and women who know they are loved.

There are many problems inside the Roma population. As much as Mia cares for the children, she doesn’t deny the many generational sins that burden Roma families and affect their reputation as a people group. But love can reach through darkness and save a person from anything. Love never fails.

Even as Romania and Western Europe fail the Roma, love will not fail them, and neither should we.

- Joanna Miller


Wolf Children

March 15, 2011

(The following update from Bucharest tells the story of two new members from the “wolf group” of children -  arrivals at the mission who Mia and the rest of the association have very courageously taken in. Please consider their plight in your prayers this week. They represent exactly why Mia’s Children exists.)

◊ ◊ ◊

In times of concerns and social, economical, moral crises when people are so much focused on their own drama, trying to find answers to so many questions, God is giving us grace, prosperity, meeting His promises for us: “Don’t be afraid, I am with you !”

And He is!

Romania is going crazy through all this: the school system, the medical care, the social policy and not only these, are not covering the real life and the results are a disaster. More kids are abandoning school, all types of viruses are going around, and there are no medicines, no money, no proper education in school–the society seems that it is asleep.

But in spite of this, the Lord is giving us a special vision to redeem, to rebuild, to refill the precious spirits and hearts of those who are brought into our work. That’s why we accepted two more children, coming from” the wolf group”, Bogdan and Emi. At the age of 8 they look like 4-year olds, mal-nutitioned. Wild an scary as they lived for months and months in a place where they imitated the way beasts are walking and speaking.

It’s incredible how children can survive with no love, no care in this moment in the society and how they can try to survive, having refuge among animals, who became a kind of family for them. The first days they were speaking in strange language, imitating the sounds of animals. And it required great courage for Costi and Oana to bring them inside the group, to clean out their lice, to try to calm them and cut their wild hair, and to give them the first bath….the words are too poor, sometimes ….

It is tremendous to see how hard it has been for them, and also for the group, to all of us to change their habits. The kids are trying to adjust their new life, including the new boys. We notice the great progress the two boys are making in one month: they started to love to play with other children, to speak, to listen and respect simple rules, to take baths, to stay dressed.

They still are rocking back and forth and sucking their thumbs, and they want to be taken in your arms as babies, emitting different sounds that have no meaning for us. They started to love to be hugged and touched, and looking at the rest of the group, they want to start to write. Emi drew his first tiny house and gave it to Mia, telling her how much he loves her. He also hangs on Oana’s feet, and we discovered that one of his legs is shorter than the other. Please pray for these children and us to continue to improve their lives.

All of this is possible because God loves each of us so much, because of each of you who are praying, giving, trusting, helping to design a vision for a better tomorrow. This can be a way for a better society, an answer for a safer world, where love and peace and understanding and supporting can take place and help human beings to live in harmony with God and each other, rebuilding the moral fiber of God’s creation.

Thank you for your faithfulness and dedication, for your supporting Mia’s Children!


Flooding Devastates Romania

June 30, 2010

The Danube flooding in Budapest, Hungary

Floodwater has continued to grow in Romania after our last post about severe weather in the country.

Continuous heavy rain has caused rivers to rise, killing 24 people as of Wednesday and forcing over 7,000 people to be evacuated.

So far the area of Bucharest has not suffered the same damage as the northern region of Romania, but the city expects an untimely drop in GDP along with the rest of the country, which would further damage their already weak economy after a year of massive wage cuts in the public sector.

Read more about the flooding here, and please continue to lift up the people of Romania as they try to prevent further flooding and assess the damage already done.


Dangerous Weather in Romania

June 24, 2010

Serious flooding has damaged twenty-eight counties in Romania in the last day.

The Prut, Crasna and Danube Rivers have caused 3 deaths so far and widespread damage across the country. The counties Cluj and Alba have been hit particularly hard.

The Prut, before flooding

In Bucharest, officials are taking steps to protect the city from flooding, including the employment of water evacuation pumps and monitoring of roadways. But so far these measures are largely preventative: Bucharest has not reported any serious problems.

At the same time, the capitol is preparing for coming heat waves. Romania annually has problems with heat-related deaths, and Bucharest is no exception. The city plans to wash the sidewalks and streets with detergent twice a week to help diminish dust.

Let’s pray for the people whose lives have been washed away by the flooding, and that more damage can be prevented as the rivers continue to fill up. And let’s pray for the people of Bucharest and our family at Mia’s Children as they prepare for this year’s dangerous heat.


Slavery in Romania

June 18, 2010

This past week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released the 2010 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, which reports on the State Department’s recommendations in fighting human trafficking worldwide.

Human trafficking is a criminal activity in which people are recruited, harbored, transferred, bought or kidnapped to serve an exploitative purpose, such as sexual slavery and forced labor.

The report rates each country in their efforts to fight human trafficking, with Tier 1 being the highest rating and Tier 3 the lowest. Romania received a Tier 2 rating.

According to the report:

Romania is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically conditions of forced labor and women and children in forced prostitution.

Romanian men, women, and children are trafficked within the country for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor, including forced begging and petty theft. In 2009, the majority of trafficking victims identified within the country were victims of forced labor…including forced begging.

The report goes on to say that more measures can and should be taken by the Romanian government to stop trafficking.

But we already knew a lot of this, because the children who come to us have often been either victims or witnesses of human trafficking. Extreme poverty in Bucharest’s poorest neighborhoods has led to many forms of criminal activity. Innocent children get lost in the shuffle at best, and trafficked at worst.

Mia’s Children provides counseling and education for these young people from the hard streets of Bucharest. And most importantly we work to offer them a home and a sense of belonging that is based on the truth and love of the gospel.

That is how we are fighting the horrors of human trafficking – and let us tell you, it works!


Ceausescu’s Body to Be Exhumed

June 9, 2010

Arguments over the death of Romania’s most infamous dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, will soon be put to rest.

On Sunday the Austrian Times reported that Ceausescu’s son Valentin has won a four-year court battle for the right to exhume his father’s body in order to answer questions about his parents’ fate.

Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena ran Romania with an iron fist from 1965-1989. Following a violent coup in December of 1989, the couple was arrested and tried. They were executed on Christmas Day, and their bodies were dragged through the streets on national television.

Regardless, rumors have persisted that the couple actually escaped and that two other bodies were buried in their place in Bucharest. Valentin Ceausescu hopes to solve this matter by exhuming his father’s body.

The Grave of Nicolae Ceausescu – Ghencea Civil Cemetery, Bucharest

The first time I traveled to Romania, I was shocked by the aftermath of this powerful couple. It was 2005, over 15 years after the fall of communism, and yet people still referred to events as “before Ceausescu” and “after Ceausescu.”

The revolution, which was in many ways similar to a bloody coup, took the life of Mia’s brother and became a catalyst to her and Costel becoming Christians and starting Mia’s Children.

Indeed, many people’s histories are tied to Nicolae Ceausescu and his assumed death. If for some unlikely reason the myths of his and his wife’s survival are found to be true, the country will need some way to regain the closure they should have had in 1989 – a closure that, in many ways, Romanians would still like to experience fully today.

- Joanna Miller


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