What we do

We work in Oltenia, Romania, with children and adults who all live in Government care and have some form of developmental delay, physical disability and/or learning disability. This project runs year round with local staff and volunteers and aims improve the lives of children and adults by providing much needed stimulation, building positive relationships, assisting intellectual and physical development through play and interaction and physiotherapy. We train the local carers, both in children’s homes and in the adult institution, to enable them to have a better understanding of their clients, manage behaviour and certain medical conditions better and improve hygiene and nutrition.

Our long term aims are to increase the likelihood of self-sufficiency of the children as they grow up, improve the infrastructure and care at the adult institution and lead through example to influence improvements in Government care and living conditions for people with disabilities.

Recruiting volunteers

As part of our work we recruit and train volunteers usually based in the UK to provide additional input, stimulation and practical help in the Oltenia region in Romania. We are dedicated to enabling our volunteers to have a real and lasting impact on the children and adults, as well as providing our volunteers with life changing experiences.

Our volunteers benefit from personal development educationally, practically and emotionally. Volunteers frequently report that their volunteer experience greatly enhanced personal skills, helped build their confidence and supported future educational or career opportunities.

Ethical Volunteering

The LIFE Foundation is committed to supporting local, sustainable change and strive to ensure all projects work in line with best practice documents (eg The International Ecotourism Society’s International Voluntourism Guidelines  http://www.ecotourism.org/voluntourism-guidelines)

Key principles How we do this
Developing projects with the local communities’ needs as a priority Charity directors meet with key professionals in Romania including Child Protection and the Director of the Institution each year to discuss progress and identify future goals. In country staff meet weekly with social workers and coordinators from child protection to identify any immediate needs.
Creating opportunities for lasting impact that are sustainable Project developments are designed with sustainability in mind, including the promotion and funding of a Romanian multi-disciplinary team and building projects to improve the lived experience of beneficiaries
Careful consideration of the language used in publications and avoiding “poverty marketing” Language used in promotional material is reviewed to ensure it promotes the potential of individuals
Providing clear explanations on the goals and objectives of projects in order to avoid unrealistic expectations or misunderstandings Project aims are clearly stated and all volunteers must attend training on this prior to volunteering
Utilizing pre-trip orientation to ensure appropriate levels of cross-cultural understanding and sensitivity All volunteers must attend training prior to volunteering which includes cultural factors. A booklet is also provided with more information.
Requiring background checks before selecting volunteers and clearly communicating about the possibility that volunteering on this project might not be the right option for some individuals All volunteers undergo a DBS check and interviewed by a member of the committee. Where we do not believe an individual is a good fit for the project we provide feedback on this and the reasons why
Gathering feedback from participating volunteers and promptly addressing negative feedback Volunteers are encouraged to provide feedback during and after their trip. Where concerns are raised this is managed by a member of the management team immediately if the individual is on a trip or in the UK if reported subsequently.
Transparency in financial reporting As a charity our financial records are available to the public
Provide public information regarding the short and long term impact of projects, including the beneficiary stories and feedback from local community members The website contains feedback regarding the project. We are currently reviewing how we measure outcomes.

Why we do it

The management team are motivated by our love for the many amazing people we have been privileged enough to work with, watch develop and grow. We all feel very passionate about the projects and doing what we can to help and support the children, adults, staff and communities, both in the moment when bringing a smile to someone’s face, and longer term where we strive to see infrastructure, educational and political changes. Sadly we also work in remembrance of those we have lost, ensuring they are not forgotten and constantly striving to improve the potential of each individual we work with.

Thank you!

London based photographer Daniella Staub travelled to Oltenia to take photographs of our project and to support a particular fundraising campaign. The photos are beautiful and really capture the hidden beauty of Slatina and the emotions of some communities. We are grateful that Daniella took the time to visit our project and allow us to use her photos! Check out Daniella’s website and Facebook page.



Celebrations with the adults!