Photo by Tony Cece

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Monday, June 30, 2014

Today we held training for the Smiles staff at the Smiles compound. Unlike most days, where we pile into different vans to head out to our assigned destinations, we were able to stay at the Smiles compound while the staff came to us. One significant issue here in Romania is the accepted abuse of alcohol; due to this, our training was on substance abuse with a heavy focus on alcohol. We also presented on Quality of Life afterwards.

After presenting the first round of material, we split into groups to really begin to dialogue about the issues the staff faces around alcohol, the cultural differences, and to begin to start thinking of creative solutions to such an overwhelming issue. It was clear the population Smiles staff work with deal with alcohol abuse regularly. The group conversations were powerful to hear. Our team was able to hear a new perspective, dialogue about our own encounters with alcohol abuse, and to hear the additional struggles the Smile staff faces on top of the already daunting problem of alcohol abuse. 

A main theme that was heard throughout the day was the churches in the area do not help or accept church members who are alcoholics. The Christian members are shunned and turned away. The churches were not an ideal place for an alcoholic anonymous group because the staff believed there would be no confidentiality, no acceptance, which would be no help. For our team, hearing this was a challenge. We are coming in, as a Christian University, partnering with a Christian organization, into a place that views Christians as non-accepting creating an additional barrier for all of us when trying to help. In Romans 15:7 it says "Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory." This verse is something we cannot simply say to the church and community here in Romania, but it is something we have to actually demonstrate by our actions and our words. Our team gained a lot of insight from today's sessions and a greater appreciation for the already hard working, amazing Smiles staff. 

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