Blythswood have now received an additional £240,000 from the Scottish Government through Christian Aid to add to the second half of this year’s Ukraine support up to the end of August.
Balazs had a successful trip to the school that Blythswood supports in Kenya including a meeting with the Hungarian ambassador there. The Hungary government is unfortunately scaling down its support in the country.
Julien and Cipri continue well in their apartment and Damian and André have become positive influences in the Daniel Centre. Drug abuse has become a bigger issue among the lads, however, and Balazs feels that a stronger stance is needed than the other staff members are comfortable with.
Work at the depot is now complete and contractual negotiations with potential renters are taking place so that the depot can begin to generate income for the Daniel Centre.
Blythswood have had talks with the owner of the land that Adi would like to buy adjacent to Talita Kum as a sports area for the Talita Kum children. The owner, however, is asking for much more than Blythswood are currently willing to pay.
Talitha Kum is currently running at capacity, mainly with children from the Roma community.
Balazs has been completing his 6-monthly report for Christian Aid on handling the winterisation money for the Ukraine. He leaves for a week in Kenya on Friday 10th, having arranged to meet the Hungarian ambassador to Kenya in Nairobi to discuss the future of Hungarian aid to the Christian school there and its efforts to be accredited.
Julien and Cipri are doing well in their apartment, Damian continues with his rental delivery scooter. Two of the lads have been sent out of the Daniel Centre because of drug abuse and a third is on a warning. 7 places are currently filled, with one vacancy, and 6 of the 7 lads in residence have work. The 7th, recently sacked by his supermarket, is actively pursuing other work.
Work at the depot continues and only the tarring of the yard remains to complete.
The Daniel Centre team – Danny, Louisa and Agnes – are all doing well.
Adi had a very successful day trip to Hungary with a group of children and the elderly, and another very successful skiing trip for 18 children in early March.
As I spoke to Balazs, Adi was on his way to meet the owners of the land adjacent to Talita Kum to see if it could be purchased by Blythswood for use as a sports area for the Talita Kum children.
The Chief Executive Officers of Christian Aid and the UK Disaster Emergency Committee visited Odessa in the Eastern Ukraine at the beginning of February and were very positive in commending Blythswood’s role in administering the funds they had collected. The Disaster Emergency Fund had had their best ever fund-raising campaign of over £400 million for the Ukraine but now have to move on to other disaster areas.
Balazs hopes to visit Kenya in mid-March where Blythswood sponsors a primary school. The Kenyan government, however, have now moved towards the American system and given small schools for the poor almost impossible conditions to meet in order to be accredited. This means that grades 7 and 8 pupils will have to move to public schools in order to continue their education.
Adi (who runs the Talita Kum project for mainly Roma or gypsy children to give them a meal, games and help with their homework after school) is taking a group of the children and also elderly people for a day trip to Hungary and about 20 children on a skiing trip in early March.
Balazs and the Chief Executive Officers of Christian Aid and the UK Disaster Emergency Committee will visit the relief efforts in Odessa in the Eastern Ukraine for one night – visiting from Chisinau in Moldova with increased insurance because of the war.
Julien and Cipri’s departure has been further delayed until January 29th by plumbing problems in the apartment. Damian’s rental delivery scooter and the bigger one requires a driving licence which he doesn’t have, so he is currently driving illegally.
Two of the residents have had to leave because of drug use, including Danny who had been doing well at his studies but had put them on hold to earn money in a delivery service.
Government funding has increased fourfold for the Daniel Centre for 2023 and they expect to have 7 lads resident, including Robi who has asked to return.
Balazs has tentative plans in his new role to visit Kenya, Serbia, Burundi and possibly Mumbai with Blythswood Chief Executive James Campbell who is due to retire this year.
Government funding has been doubled for Talita Kum for 2023 which should help with heating costs. There have been no new developments on purchasing a portion of the empty ground behind TK2 for a sports field for the children.
Balazs will have the Chief Executive Officers of Christian Aid and the UK Disaster Emergency Committee going with him to visit the relief efforts in Odessa in the Eastern Ukraine at the end of January – Balazs’ first visit to that part of the Ukraine.
Julien and Cipri have delayed their departure to share an apartment until January 2nd. Damian’s attitude has now improved and he is working 12 hours a day on his delivery scooter.
The present group of Daniel Centre residents are much more positive about celebrating Christmas than many of the former residents and are looking forward to a Christmas dinner in the Centre as well as one in the home of Balazs and Agnes. Danny will come to the Centre exceptionally on Christmas Day to take the lads to church.
Adi still hopes to move all the TK1 students to TK2 from January to save on heating costs. They are still seriously considering purchasing a sizeable portion of the empty ground behind TK2 that would serve as a sports field for the children.
In his new Blythswood capacity, Balazs has been visiting the Divine Grace University in Moldova, a Blythswood partner there, and also to meet up with Ukrainian partners since the Christian Aid security advisor has told him not to visit Ukraine directly for the time being. The University also functions as a mission school and training college for nurses and social workers with many students from the Stans of the former USSR.
Julien and Cipri prepare to leave the Centre later this month to share an apartment. Damian has been back in the Centre for a week but his attitude has not improved and he may be expelled again.
Blythswood has received a further “winterisation” £450,000 from Christian Aid which has to be spent before the end of February for generators, fuel, wood-burning stoves etc. The communities themselves have to decide how to use the money under the SCLR initiative (Survivor Community-Led Response).
Adi has paid the final bill to the Romanian body of EU funding for cancelling the TK3 and TK4 project for the time being but was able to do it without having to pay a fine, thus leaving open the relaunching of the project at a future date.
There were concerns from their night supervisor Sergiu that he had detected the smell of marijuana when some of the lads were having a party downstairs but the boys have categorically denied this. The day supervisor Danny has also admitted to the occasional joint. A recent addition to the residents, Darian, evidences an addiction to slot machines and perhaps to drugs and there is concern that he is funding his ‘hobbies’ through shoplifting.
Louisa continues to profit from regular counselling and a Christian Aid guru will do a safeguarding and accountability course with her when she visits Romania next week. Louisa feels she needs more excitement and challenge in her work.
James Campbell, the head of Blythswood, has recently visited Balazs to see their projects in the Ukraine and Romania. Overseas funding has dropped for the Blythswood projects, probably war-weariness in the West, and they plan a new appeal in the New Year. In the meantime, they will be cutting down the number of projects they can support from 14 to 6. Most of the shoe-box distribution will now have to devolve to local groups and churches which receive the bulk of the shoeboxes in Romania and the Ukraine.
Adi will keep TK1 and TK2 separate till the end of the year with 84 mostly Roma primary school and 4 high school children and then relocate the TK1 children to the TK2 building because of heating and lighting costs.
Cipri and Julian have been preparing to ease into independent living but Cipri is perhaps beginning to have cold feet. Damien has returned to the Daniel Centre but his attitude is not good. He has called the police to complain about two of the other lads but the police have fortunately seen through his scheming.
Louisa has been profiting from more regular counselling over her expectations of her colleagues.
The older Ukrainian lady in the Centre apartment has found a new calling as a cook for the Daniel Centre and prepares two meals a week for the lads. An interesting chemistry is developing between herself and the lads as they enjoy and react to her angry Russian language outbursts which they don’t understand.
Balazs has completed his report on how the first phase of Christian Aid money was used in the Ukraine and the second year of Christian Aid money for the Ukraine has now been granted.
Adi is seriously considering having to close the TK2 building and the Talita Kum project for 2 months in the winter because the cost of heating and lighting the building is expected to rise from £1500 to £9000 a month.
All the Daniel Centre lads are hanging it at work and they will possibly re-open their transit apartment to ease Cipri into independent living and move Julian there with him as Julian has been having his own problems in the Centre. Damien, who had to leave a year ago because of issues with his dog, is now begging to return.
Louisa has begun to struggle over the lack of progress in the young men, her expectations of her colleagues and the honeymoon period now being over. She has been considering resigning but Balazs hopes that time with their team psychologist will help Louisa get through this rough patch.
The older Ukrainian lady in the Centre apartment had to be hospitalised and operated on as she was losing blood. Her two daughters in the Ukraine and a third daughter and her sister in Romania sadly show no interest in her.
Balazs has been slowed down in wrapping up his report on how the first phase of Christian Aid money was used in the Ukraine because the four partners in the Ukraine have been slow and problematic in the way they have reported to him.
Adi is still seriously considering having to relocate the TK1 children to the TK2 building because of the anticipated costs when the heating and lighting of the buildings have to be ramped up at the beginning of October.
Danutz has now found work, so all the Daniel Centre lads are employed.
The Renovation of the Depot is still being delayed by lack of people on the work force. Many workers still leave Romania to seek their fortunes in Western Europe.
Only one older Ukrainian lady is left in the Daniel Centre apartment and she speaks only Ukrainian.
Balazs now begins his intense fortnight of wrapping up his report on how the first phase of Christian Aid money was used in the Ukraine. Most of the internally displaced people (IDPs) have been housed in schools over the summer months. Now that these schools are re-opening for the new academic year, all of these IDPs will become homeless and the challenge is now on how to best channel the Christian Aid money to help them.
Expecting 77 children for their after-school activities when schools open again on September 5th, Adi is seriously considering having to relocate the TK1 children to the TK2 building because of the anticipated cost increases in heating and lighting the buildings.