Laurie Lundberg is a Bridge of Love to Romanian Orphans
There really aren't words to describe what it's like to visit an orphanage in almost any other country outside the United States. Obviously, we don't have them here; we have a marvelous foster care system instead. While it may not be ideal, it is a far cry better than the neglected asylums most other governments deem suitable for their parentless, young citizens. While often staffed by well-meaning women, they are, by nature, places for children who have been cast off by the very parents who should love them most dearly, and that is a fundamental, pervasive tragedy. It is remarkable that there exists such a woman as Laurie Lundberg who, in the face of such overwhelming sadness, has become a face of hope to these children, even a Bridge of Love.
It is the orphanages of Romania that captured the hearts of Laurie and her husband Scott back in 1999. For a Christmas trip, they and their children, visited an orphanage in Barlad, Romania. Says their website's About page: "There they saw a situation they could never forget. Babies and toddlers stayed in their cribs nearly all day, starved for love and attention. The bedroom walls were bare, and a cold breeze seeped through the windows of the poorly heated orphanage. There were no blankets or toys in the room, and the workers changed the babies' diapers in silence. The toddlers rocked their little bodies back and forth for hours, the only stimulation they could create. Most of the children were abandoned at birth, with little or no information about them left behind."
Laurie describes the situation as "children living in a zoo. Nobody was their voice." She and her family committed to doing everything possible to help the thirty-two children in the orphanage at that time. To make such a commitment would be understandable to anyone who had ever visited an orphanage in Romania or elsewhere. But to make such a commitment, even when one lives on another continent entirely and isn't made of money, is another thing altogether. They did, however, and solidified their commitment when they formed a nonprofit organization, Bridge of Love, in 2001.
Says Laurie: "The foundation began its mission by working to find loving homes for the children and removing them from orphanages, one child at a time, and placing them in foster care with Romanian families." Since 2001, the foundation has hired a team of competent Romanian staff, including a program director, social workers, psychologist and teacher, who provide ongoing support by working with the children and foster families to overcome their challenges. Currently, there are over 40 children in foster care who are served by Bridge of Love. The organization also has a teen project in place, called Bridge to Success, providing support to older teens and young adults who are in the process of transitioning to life outside of an orphanage. Volunteers, like our own Cambria Vandermewre, travel to Romania each year to assist with summer camp and service activities and to deliver needed clothing and supplies.The goal of the foundation is to help these children and teens know they are loved and to assist them in leading happy and successful lives.
Laurie is a wonderful example of a woman who is not only charitable but persistent and patient, qualities which truly make a difference in both the nonprofit world and the lives of those children.
How can you help those in other countries who are less fortunate than you?
Featured image courtesy of Flickr.