Painting and Prayer

Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention:
Forget your people and your father’s house.
Let the king be enthralled by your beauty;
honor him, for he is your lord.

Psalm 45:10-11

We pray today for renewal of our young people and their memories of the past. Help the children in our mission to heal from trauma by remembering only Your love for them. Please prove to them that you come to make Your blessings flow as far as the curse is found. Amen.

Painting and Prayer

All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
for dominion belongs to the Lord
and he rules over the nations.

Psalm 22:27-28

Lord we pray for the children in our organization who still have terrible memories of their pasts. Please clear their minds of the images and nightmares that haunt them. Help them to see anew and to be free of the years that burden them. Amen.

From Our Family, New Families

Catalin on his wedding day

In the same year of our beloved Costel’s death, many of the young men and women he counseled about family are moving forward with their own!

Earlier this year, Tabita – one of our first members – got married and moved to London. Then Catalin got married in June.

Coming up this month, Mihaela will marry Gigi. And George, one of the first children to whom Mia and Costel ministered, will legalize his marriage with the mother of his child.

Costel saw many of these young men grow up and helped some of them out of extremely abusive situations. Only a year after his death, they are starting families of their own.

Says Mia, “Happy news: how time passes, and our children are now adults! This is a great honor in memory of Costel, husband and father who was their role model.”

Please pray for these young people as they commit to marriage!

Tabita's wedding

Wolf Children

(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.)

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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!

Trafficking in Romania

(CNN) — Romania has become a major transit for the sale of people into the European Union. Victims as young as 12 years old are trafficked into Romania from destinations as far-reaching as Honduras, Afghanistan, the Congo, and China. Once they reach Romania, many of these victims are assigned for passage beyond into Western Europe.

While Romanian law officially prohibits all forms of human trafficking, the country’s strategic geographic location — a crossroads between East and West — makes it a source, transit and destination country for the people trade. The country’s 2007 admission into the European Union brought more relaxed border regulations and enhanced its attraction for international human traffickers.

Read the full article at CNN.com

Mia’s Children and Human Trafficking in Romania

When girls live life out on the street, what risks do they face?

Along with well known threats like drugs and alcohol, crime, physical abuse and health problems, girls out on the street are at high risk of being trafficked.

Human trafficking generally occurs when someone – usually a female or a child or both – is forced into the sex trade by a person able to manipulate them through physical force or some other means of coercion. It happens all over the world, even in American cities. In Romania, generational poverty, high crime rates and government corruption mean even less protection for vulnerable girls than in many other countries.

The New York Times recently published a profile about one woman’s work to help human trafficking victims in Romania. Her organization offers a safe place for these young girls to recover.

After reading the girls’ stories, a question comes to mind: What is the solution to this crime’s high demand? How can we keep it from happening in the first place?

At Mia’s Children, we believe that stopping the demand for human trafficking in Romania has to begin with change from the inside out.

Criminals can always find their way around laws, and desperation from poverty makes them more willing to do terrible things for cash. What Romania needs is a heart change that helps traffickers and victims alike recognize their need for God. He is the only one who can defeat evil, who can break generational sin and save victims of oppression.

Mia’s Children works with boys and young men to help them know early on that they are loved, forgiven, and special in God’s sight. Thanks to Costel’s hard work in training up young men, we now have older leaders who can give the younger boys a Biblical understanding of right and wrong and teach them how to respect their elders and peers.

This task can be very difficult – boys sometimes arrive at our door having been trained to behave violently, especially against women  – but we have found that a little love goes a long way. And in the end we get to see Romanians who could have fallen into very dangerous lifestyles become Romanians who serve God and honor women.

Enough men like that, and we could see human trafficking end in Romania for good.


Ministering to the Roma

Recently journalists around the world have reported an increased resentment in Europe toward the Roma population. Italy, France and other countries are shutting down camps where the Roma populations live, and are making it harder for them to remain in their current countries.

Mia’s Children has been ministering to the Roma people since the association’s inception. Also known as gypsies, they have a long history in Romania and still settle in villages across the country and around Bucharest.

The Roma are the most impoverished and marginalized people group in Romania, and arguably in much of Europe. Speaking a different language and living a different lifestyle, they stand out in any country and have trouble assimilating. Their poverty has often bred other related problems like crime, violence, and abuse.

Some of our Roma children live in this village on the outskirts of Bucharest

Many of the young people who come to Mia’s Children are Roma. They live in villages on the outside of town and come from families in desperate poverty. In an attempt to bring in more money, many of the children have previously worked in street crime. Others found food in trash heaps.  This is certainly not the situation for every Roma child, but it is also not uncommon in Romania.

The parents struggle with substance abuse and violence. Some have too many children to look after them all, and end up putting one or two in an orphanage. Many of these extreme hardships and patterns of brokenness are worsened and perpetuated by racism from non-Roma.

We have found through the years the power of reaching Roma children. Being so at risk of human trafficking, drug crime, gang violence, and domestic abuse, they are in need of almost every possible provision. Food, education, medical attention, skills training, counseling and spiritual guidance all play a part in helping Roma children to become healthy members of Romanian society.

We meet most of our contacts at the association through referrals from other children and their families. Many of the Roma children are actually related.

Often the families are so grateful for the chance to see their children eat, play, go to school and thrive in their work that they spend extra time at the organization, talking with Mia, learning, and helping when they can.

Even so, the cycle of poverty and desperation among the Roma people in Bucharest is difficult to break, especially in adults who have seen a lot of brokenness.

But there is hope for melting even the hardest heart: parents are transformed, as we have been transformed, by watching their children changed in how they see themselves – as Roma yes, and as Romanians, as successful students and workers, as children of God.

Slavery in Romania

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!

No More Missing Romanian Children

BalkanInsight.com reported yesterday that missing children cases in Romania are on the rise.

Over 3,200 children went missing in the last year, which is ten times more than five years ago. About 90% of the children are suspected to have run away from home and foster care voluntarily, sometimes in order to make money on the street.

But Mia’s Children knows exactly what they’ll find on the street: crime, drugs, prostitution and disease.

Many of our youth came from similar circumstances. Some of them were forced to work in crime for money, and some of them left voluntarily to escape the poverty and domestic problems at home.

We try to work with the children as well as their families, because families broken from addiction and poverty are what causes this danger to Romania’s young people the most.

But sometimes the families do not want help. The parents are not ready to beat the addiction, or are abusive, or feel that they cannot provide anything better than the streets for their children.

In that case one thing will always be certain:

No child is missing from God’s sight, and with his help, they can be found and loved again at Mia’s Children.