Contributed by Esther Campbell
After the revolution of December 1998, Romania had a difficult time recovering social and economic stability. The population had been left with many devastating problems created by the former government. One of these was a huge number of children in orphanages with little money to look after them. In the early 1990s, Peter Mrazik, a young teacher from Alberta made a trip to Romania to see first hand if he could do anything to help these children, the plight of whom was so much in the news at this time.
Experiencing the desperate state of the many orphans there, he determined to find solutions. With the help of his church and community back in Alberta he was able to raise funds and in 1996 CAIRD (Children’s Aid International Relief and Development) was formed. It took the form of an orphanage staffed by Christian workers from Canada and Romania. Peter and his wife Haley moved to Romania to live permanently to direct the operation. The orphanage was called Father’s House and became a growing success, eventually morphing into a community of financially supported Christian-Romanian couples willing and dedicated to raising these children as part of their own families.
As the work grew there was constant opportunity to work in the broader community and CAIRD was responding. In 2003 Peter was given the chance to help in the medical services of the area. Access to doctors was limited in the smaller villages due to travel on poor roads with no public transportation. Ekatarina, a recently graduated Romanian nurse, volunteered to provide health services to a few towns 2 or 3 afternoons a week. Although she had no training in this area, she felt God calling her into this unfamiliar and unknown ministry. Peter’s contacts in Canada suggested that he speak with Alma Funk at Red Deer College for advice on how to best implement a successful community health program. Alma immediately was hooked on the idea as development work was very close to her missionary heart. She herself had seen evidence of the health problems facing this country.
CrossRoads supported this idea and Alma subsequently agreed to accept the challenge of developing such a program. In 2003 she was commissioned by the church and sent to Romania for 10 days. George Campbell accompanied Alma to provide moral support and advice. In Medias many long hours were spent with Ekatarina planning the community outreach program. During this time George supervised a non-English speaking crew demolishing an old shed and building a garage for a Father’s House van. Together Alma and George visited villages around the city to find suitable places for Ekatarina to visit. They stayed at the orphanage and got to know the children and staff. One of the children they developed a relationship with was named Anca, a little girl Peter and Haley were in the process of formally adopting.
Anca playing ‘Dutch Blitz’ at Father’s House with Alma and George
Anca at her pharmacy in Romania
For the past fifteen years CrossRoads has supported CAIRD in Romania and continues to do so. CrossRoads also helps to support Kory and Erin Sikstrom in Craiova in their work with teenagers in the school system and John and Cheryl Zumbrunn in their work of providing adult education for the disadvantaged in Timosara.
Today Anca is in Canada to tell her remarkable story of being rescued from the poverty of Romania, becoming a believer in Christ and a successful member of Romanian society.