April 30, 2003: Headlines: COS - Romania: Service: Orphans: Ipswich Online: Romania RPCV Kim Tompkins formed a mentoring club in 1997, working with the local orphanage

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Romania: Peace Corps Romania : The Peace Corps in Romania: April 30, 2003: Headlines: COS - Romania: Service: Orphans: Ipswich Online: Romania RPCV Kim Tompkins formed a mentoring club in 1997, working with the local orphanage

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Romania RPCV Kim Tompkins formed a mentoring club in 1997, working with the local orphanage

Romania RPCV Kim Tompkins formed a mentoring club in 1997, working with the local orphanage

Ipswich resident bonds with Romanian orphans

By Faith Tomei / FTOMEI@CNC.COM
Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Kim Tompkins now lives on Turkey Shore Road with her husband, Doug DeAngelis. She's working on a degree in fine art and sculpture at the Massachusetts College of Art. But she hasn't forgotten the abandoned children she met while teaching English at a Romanian high school as a Peace Corps volunteer.

With her help, high school students in Bistrita, Romania, formed a mentoring club in 1997, working with the local orphanage. After the world learned of thousands of abandoned street children after the fall of Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, they wanted to combat the perception in Romania of these children being an embarrassment.

High school students visited the orphanage weekly during the school year and, with Tompkins, organized summer camps where the children played games, made art, and hiked through the scenic Romanian countryside.

Tompkins kept in touch with her Romanian friends - teachers, students, and orphans. Last summer she returned to lead a two-week summer camp similar to the 1997 and 1998 camps. In January, she formed a non-profit organization called Child Outreach Partnership Initiative (COPII). The word "copii" in Romanian means "children," Tompkins explains.

This summer Tompkins will work with American and Romanian volunteers to once again give abandoned children the opportunity to spend two weeks in the Romanian countryside. The orphans will be from Beclean's Special School, a state-run residential facility for children ages 5 through 13. At Beclean, 30 children are orphans, and 30 children have families.

Her goal is to send the 30 special needs orphans to camp when their classmates go home to their families. While at the camp, children will have workshops in drawing, clay and photography. Each will have a 35-millimeter camera to take photos of their friends. Unlike children in families, some of them have never seen themselves in photos, Tompkins explains.

The kids will also put on skits that will be captured on video. In the evenings, they'll watch that day's performance. Last year that brought a lot of smiles, Tompkins says.

While the main goal is to give the children a memorable and, in some cases, life-changing experience, there are benefits for teens and adults working at the camp as well.

The Romanian teens who work with the children get to know them as people, not statistics, Tompkins says.

Teachers and other staff from the Beclean Special School will also participate. This will give them an opportunity to work one-on-one with the children and gain insights into the personalities of each child, something that's not possible in a formal classroom situation.

Several U.S. students, artists, and educators will also take the seven-hour bus ride with the students from Beclean to the scenic and historical Bucovina region of Romania to work with the children in various capacities.

North Shore participants will include Rebecca Girard, a human services/elementary education major at LaSalle College; Kristen Rodgers, an early childhood development major at UMass-Amherst; and Charlie Win, an art therapist at Harbor Lights School.

Tompkins' husband, Doug DeAngelis, will come along as a photographer, helping the children with camera skills as well. Amy Olk, a graduate student at Temple University, will participate as a documentary filmmaker.

Olk and Tompkins have been good friends since their student days at Florida's Stetson University in the early 1990s. With the help of a grant from the Disabilities Center, Olk got film footage last summer that captures the flavor of the camp, the children who attend, and the volunteers who make it work. Tompkins is showing Olk's 7-minute documentary to groups like the Ipswich Rotary Club in an effort to gain local support for the camp.

Pete Miller, a Somerville artist, is organizing a benefit art auction for COPII at the Firehouse Center in Newburyport. The auction, which features the work of Boston and North Shore artists, will be held Sunday, May 18, from 6 to 9 p.m. Called "Art Mix," the evening will include entertainment and a viewing of the short film as well.

Tompkins says it costs about $150 to send each child to the two-week camp. This pays for room and board, transportation, and tuition. Proceeds from the art auction will help. She's also spreading the word that people can sponsor a child or contribute whatever they can toward the cause.

To find out more about COPII and to see the video of last year's summer camp, log on to COPII's Web site at www.copiiproject.org. Or, e-mail Tompkins at kim@copiiproject.org or call her at 978-312-1125 for details.

When this story was prepared, here was the front page of PCOL magazine:

This Month's Issue: August 2004 This Month's Issue: August 2004
Teresa Heinz Kerry celebrates the Peace Corps Volunteer as one of the best faces America has ever projected in a speech to the Democratic Convention. The National Review disagreed and said that Heinz's celebration of the PCV was "truly offensive." What's your opinion and who can come up with the funniest caption for our Current Events Funny?

Exclusive: Director Vasquez speaks out in an op-ed published exclusively on the web by Peace Corps Online saying the Dayton Daily News' portrayal of Peace Corps "doesn't jibe with facts."

In other news, the NPCA makes the case for improving governance and explains the challenges facing the organization, RPCV Bob Shaconis says Peace Corps has been a "sacred cow", RPCV Shaun McNally picks up support for his Aug 10 primary and has a plan to win in Connecticut, and the movie "Open Water" based on the negligent deaths of two RPCVs in Australia opens August 6. Op-ed's by RPCVs: Cops of the World is not a good goal and Peace Corps must emphasize community development.

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Story Source: Ipswich Online

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Romania; Service; Orphans



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