Susinima.Plays – It’s been a few months since the implementation of SUSINIMA.Plays programme, and the first results have not taken long to appear.

It's been a few months since the implementation of SUSINIMA.Plays programme, and the first results have not taken long to appear. The beneficial effects on the children participating in the programme have been noticed by their parents. SUSINIMA.Plays facilitators met with the parents of the children involved in the programme. The aim was to present the team that has expanded, the detailed programme of the workshops and to start a dialogue between parents and facilitators. The parents were delighted with the programme and the results they observed in the children's behaviour and thus expressed their interest to participate in such workshops themselves. As a result of parents experiencing the workshop, they gained a deeper understanding of the process. Being able to experience what their children experience at these workshops created a common language and thus the processes started during the workshop are extended at home. This enhances the effectiveness of processing emotions and trauma. In this way, parents also have the opportunity to learn new things, to develop and to express and process their emotions in a fun and safe environment, increasing their self-awareness and gaining new tools to understand their situations. In order to create a full circle of sharing and learning children-teachers-parents, teachers were also involved in the SUSINIMA.Plays workshops. The intention is to create a sense of community and facilitate the communication process. Teachers were introduced to the method of working so that the work that facilitators do with children can continue in the classroom, developing a common language with them. Facilitators also shared with teachers tools and exercises that can help to expand teaching skills. Teachers reported that it was an exciting and eye-opening experience for many of them and they are looking forward to attending more workshops. Many teachers expressed the need to do more of these activities as it helped them to get out of their comfort zone. Being a fun and safe environment, they opened up to this journey together. As a result, the SUSINIMA.Plays workshops have expanded and now there are groups for adults. Workshops for parents and teachers will take place monthly. The SUSINIMA.Plays facilitators are working closely with a team of therapists, together establishing the structure of the workshops and methods of working, which are constantly being improved and revised as the process advances, to meet the needs of the participants as effectively as possible.

Olga Kara: “I don’t feel in transit anymore, I live in the present moment, I don’t just wait to go back home.”

Olga joined Sus Inima last year, being one of the Ukrainian refugees who fled the aggression. Initially, she helped with the accounting of fees from parents for the Ukrainian school in Sibiu. Later, Eugene offered her a full-time job and she became part of Sus Inima. Currently, she is in charge of accounting for the tuition payments in the two Ukrainian schools and keeping track of the children's meal payments. These are the visible activities. In fact, in Olga's opinion, her job is all about communication, keeping the link between parents and school and between children who need food and the catering company. Olga has never had contact with such organisations before, as this line of work is new to her. "So far, I've seen a community of different people united by a common goal and by the ideas that they bring to life." While still living in Ukraine, before the war, Olga worked in transport logistics and customs services. From the age of 18 she worked in companies that operated with the port of Odessa. She was a cargo dispatcher, head of shipping department and manager in transport and logistics companies. Her last job was as a logistics manager at a company that dealt with purchasing cars from the USA, China and Canada and importing them to Ukraine. "In Sus Inima I like the communication within the team, the schedule and the relationship between colleagues. I feel needed, not just waiting for a real life back home. I do something, it is useful, I am useful, I am rewarded. I don't feel in transit anymore, I live in the present moment, I'm not just waiting to go home." "I'm glad to have an experience like this - working in a foreign entity. And if we take into account the language barrier, then we can definitely say that I am grateful for an experience I didn't even expect. The collective is great and I am glad to be part of the organization, to help Ukrainians and gain knowledge in new areas of work."

Diana Hulea: “Sus Inima for me is the place where I charge myself with positive energy from committed and dedicated people.”

Another recent member of the Sus Inima family we'll be talking about is Diana Hulea. Diana is a social worker by profession and has been working in the field of child rights protection for 19 years. She has worked in both private and state social services. For her, working in a private social service provider means more flexibility. Diana came to work at Sus Inima through a friend who encouraged her to lend a helping hand to people with a big heart, who are doing very nice things for people in need. "At Sus Inima I help organize the work of the Oncology Support Center. I support specialists who provide services to cancer patients and their carers through working procedures that set out concrete ways of assessing needs, planning and delivering services, and dealing with public authorities working in the field of social care." "Sus Inima for me is the place where I charge myself with positive energy from people involved and dedicated to those in critical and even desperate situations." What Diana likes most at Sus Inima is the atmosphere in which the activities take place, the desire to help that she feels in the team, the availability and involvement of her colleagues.

Alexandra Poiană – “I’ve been introduced to a reality where a handful of people are able to change thousands of destinies.”

Today we will resume Sunday's stories and for this beginning of the year I think it's time to introduce myself. I am Alexandra Poiană, Communications and Marketing Coordinator, and I joined the Sus Inima family in July 2022. Carmen and Lu offered me this job when I was looking for a remote job, as I was going to move out of the country. Prior to Sus Inima, I worked in television for a year. However, my basic training is as an actress. I graduated theatre university in Iasi, in 2011, and since then I have worked with several theatres in Bucharest, especially with the National Theatre. I have also had several appearances in feature and short films, both Romanian and international productions. I have always loved telling stories, especially stories that matter, that inspire. That's what attracted me to theatre, the fact that it can be a good tool to help you grow and evolve. Through the theatrical act you can hold up a mirror for the audience to help them see their self, recognise themselves, recognise their emotions and maybe behavioural patterns and through that become self-aware. Because only when we are honest, aware of who we are and of our actions, we can work with ourselves and become the best version of who we can be. And this whole process affects both the viewer and the actor. Theatre, originally, was sacred, and my dream was to experience the sacredness of the artistic act. But there are many other ways you can tell stories that matter, inspire and make a difference. I've experienced that to the fullest, from summer to now, since I've started telling Sus Inima stories. I've been introduced to a reality where a handful of people are able to change thousands of destinies. Thousands of people have been given a new start in life. Sus Inima was born out of necessity and it is amazing how this team has managed to keep up with the needs that have grown tremendously over the past year. I am grateful for the team I work with, collaborating daily with people who find joy in renouncing themselves and their own comfort to serve others. For some, Sus Inima means a signature on a form, or two euros donated through a text message. For others, Sus Inima is the difference between life and death, between being on the streets or having a home, between continuing with their studies or being stuck with a few classes, between survival mode or the joy of life. Whether I write, paint, or play, the experience of the process is so much more beautiful when it's not about me but about serving and laying all I create at the feet of the Divine. And I believe that, in essence, that is what the sacredness of the artistic act is all about.

Eliza Teofănescu: “There are no boundaries, they are only in our minds. Sus Inima reminds me of that.”

Eliza is also a recent member of the SUS INIMA family and became part of the team thanks to the community she belongs to. Until recently she used to live in Bucharest, but she made a major change in her life, she resigned from her theatre job and moved to Sibiu to be with the beautiful people she met there and with whom she shares the same values. Eliza says that "when you meet people like that at work, with the same mindset, the work turns into the willingness to serve, because we remind each other that what we do is for the good of others." Eliza is an actress and until 3 months ago she was an employee of the Ion Creanga Theatre in Bucharest. She graduated from UNATC in 2016 and in 2018 took her master's degree, also in acting. As soon as she finished her degree, she applied for a job at the Ion Creanga Theatre and was hired. "Those were some great years. The performing arts, all the artistic training and the people I worked with, I'm very grateful for it all. It was a time of serving the youngest audience, doing theatre for children. Now it's time for me to get off the stage for a bit and work with kids directly. It's a different perspective because when you interact with them you can better see what their needs are. Kids are wonderful. With all the challenges that come along the way, at the end of the day I know that these little brothers and sisters need us and our support, they need us to love them." Recently, SUS INIMA has developed this new department that focuses on facilitating workshops on growth through theatre for Ukrainian children, namely susnima.Plays, and Eliza is part of the team. "Most of us are actors and have this experience, with a common language and understanding of what art and theatre can bring to our lives. Ukrainian children benefit weekly of these workshops of growth through acting and, under our guidance, they discover new ways of communication and cooperation, develop empathy, creativity, are encouraged to express themselves freely and non-violently. Our work in susinima.Plays is complex and cannot be summed up in a few words because it operates on many levels. We are aware that it is a long process with a more than beneficial impact for these children." The smiles of the children Eliza works with bring her the greatest satisfaction. She finds joy when she enters the workshop room and sees them eagerly waiting, full of enthusiasm to start working together, to be with each other. There are 8-9 year olds who say at the end of the workshop "Thank you! It was really nice today!" Eliza says this makes her believe more and more in the susinima.Plays project and in the power of everyone to change for the better every day. "For me it's how I choose to relate to what I do that matters most. As long as I manage to see in every action an opportunity for growth, an opportunity to serve, I am satisfied and that makes me happy. For me, SUS INIMA means transformation. Everything that happens in SUS INIMA impacts me. I am discovering and learning with the children at the same time. It's an exchange. The other day we met the whole team and prepared something very nice. It's a musical surprise with some great lyrics. When we recorded it, it was magical. Without much preparation beforehand, we just synced up and it came out really cool. The kind of song that brings people together. There are no boundaries, they're only in our minds. SUS INIMA reminds me of that."

Angela Claudia Gheorghiu – “I can say with my hand on my heart that I have grown a lot as a human being since I am part of the Sus Inima team.”

Angela is an assistant manager at SUS INIMA in Bucharest. She and Ioana Andriesei are the wonderful hosts who liven up the house and ensure the smooth running of the place, with all that "running a house" entails. Angela had been away from Romania for a long time and at some point decided to return, having some ideas in mind about how she wanted her life to look like in the future. She was looking for something new, something that would fulfill her first and foremost personally and soulfully. She used to work in sales, but this occupation no longer brought her joy, no longer fulfilled her. By coincidence or not, Angela lives near SUS INIMA house in Bucharest. So she has been present in the process of development of that space from the very beginning. "I was very happy to find out what the space will be used for. A wonderful thing in this time of ours. I've seen from the 'front row' the preparations, the first patients." Excited by what was happening there, Angela wanted to get involved in the House's activities and lend a hand. "A year after the opening of the House, I was already familiar with its history and work and was invited to join the team. Honestly, it was a dream come true. I wanted to, but didn't dare say. Basically, for a year the joy of my free time had been volunteering at Sus Inima House. Now, it had become the joy of my job." And so, Angela found that occupation and that place where she experiences what she wanted, the workplace becoming also a source of joy, fulfilment, personal satisfaction and, as she said, giving her a sense of purpose. "I'm happy to welcome the guests of the House, to make sure they enjoy all the comforts of home, that they feel at home. I love spending time with them, listening to them, encouraging them, and we keep in touch. I am impressed, and sometimes also saddened by the life stories of the House's guests, but I can say with my hand on my heart that I have grown a lot as a person since I have been part of the SUS INIMA team."

SUSINIMA.PLAYS – social inclusion through art

SUSINIMA.Plays workshops start from 1st of November 2022 and take place daily in spaces designed for designated groups. The main aim of the programme is to develop workshops and activities for both Ukrainian and Romanian participants. The workshops will include participants of all ages, but will start with children aged 4-18. The programme uses culture as a means to unite, to help heal trauma, develop resilience and inner strength. The work of the programme helps to create shared spaces, a common language and overall will demonstrate that regardless of our social and cultural backgrounds, education through culture, can be the glue that enriches us all. Alin State, coordinator of SUSINIMA.PLAYS, on the programme activity: "The SUSINIMA.PLAYS workshops started from the need to create a safe space where children can be vulnerable and learn to manage their emotions generated by the trauma of displacement and war. From the time they came to Sibiu until now, interacting with refugees on many levels and dealing with their basic needs, we have noticed that the most vulnerable are children and teenagers, who now have a great need to be integrated and to make friends. After two years of pandemic, the war is adding new distances and pushing these children towards isolation and virtual reality. The traumas that parents now feel are passed on to their children and are not dealt with by either the children or the parents. Theatre can open these doors to communication between parents and children, and above all provide tools through which they can manage situations and emotions with detachment and a compassionate understanding of their situation. One of the goals is to connect Ukrainian and Romanian children and thus, through theatre games, music and art in general, to overcome barriers of language, culture, society, etc. Culture and art in general have the power to unite, educate and discover new ways in which we can support each other with empathy and love." Among the general benefits of SUSINIMA.Plays are physical, mental and emotional development, developing a sense of collaboration and belonging, facilitating social interaction and empathy, understanding the concept of rules and roles. All of these will create a sense of safety and appreciation. It is a concept developed in 3 modules involving developmental stages that take place over a period of 27 months. The outcomes will be cultural products based on the performing arts and the development of a network of facilitators who can support and expand the concept for the future. "The European Union, with its underlying aims and the very motto chosen in 2000, 'Unity through diversity', is about creating a macro space in which all included individuals can grow by learning from each other. Thus, we are also trying, through SUSINIMA.Plays, to put these desires into practice and to combine education and our European multiculturalism - to unite ... through play and joy." (Lu Knobloch - Director Organisational Development SUS INIMA)

SUS INIMA won the Civil Society Award from the EESC – European Economic and Social Committee for the help given to Ukrainian refugees.

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Sus Inima has been involved in actions to meet the needs of the refugees. Tens of thousands of people have benefited directly and indirectly from the aid programmes developed by Sus Inima. The programmes developed for refugees involve measures that provide immediate practical support, medium-term support and long-term support. The staff involved in the intervention team is international and involves specialists from several fields: social, educational, psychotherapeutic, economic and cultural. Some of the refugees who have received help have been in transit, while others have chosen to stay in Romania. Therefore, Sus Inima made available:
  • basic food, hygiene products
  • provided access to therapies and medical services
  • provided temporary accommodation for refugees, including refugees with pets
  • opened a day centre for Ukrainian children
  • organised Romanian and English language courses
  • opened the Ukrainian Info Center, a place where refugees can meet and receive support and guidance for a wide range of needs they face
Recent achievements include the opening of Ukrainian language schools for grades 1-4 and 5-11, a nursery group and 3 kindergarten groups. With the exception of Romanian teachers, all staff are Ukrainian refugee teachers. The direct and indirect beneficiaries of the projects developed and implemented in response to the crisis situation are more than 50,000. "Receiving an award and recognition for our work from the European Commission is not only the highest honour our organisation can receive, it is also a great boost for consolidating the help we try to provide to vulnerable groups. On top of that, it empowers us to grow and improve the impact we have at the societal level." (Lu Knobloch - SUS INIMA Organisational Development Director)

Jonas Dell’Antonio: “SUS INIMA gives me the opportunity to learn how to serve and help other people through our daily effort as a team, as a group, as human beings.”

Jonas is another member of the SUS INIMA family. He is part of the marketing and social media team, helping to create content and increase the organization's visibility. One of the recent achievements is the renewal of the SUS INIMA website, to provide more clarity and keep you up to date with the work and services offered.
On top of that, another activity that he will start soon within the organisation will be to join the SUS INIMA research team in the field of social anthropology, which is mainly the study of society and human cultures through a comparative lens.
Jonas studied communication, social media and culture, and is currently pursuing an MA in cultural anthropology.
Before joining SUS INIMA, while still living in Italy, he worked for a company that represents his passion for mountain sports and the special experience the mountains can offer. He also used to get involved in different projects targeting children and teenagers, out of a desire to contribute to a harmonious development of future generations.
He got to work for SUS INIMA after he decided to move from Italy to Germany. He left his previous job and started looking for a new one.
"I met Lu and Carmen through my wife Alexandra, who is Romanian. We ended up talking about SUS INIMA and the fact that I was looking for a job. So they immediately asked me about my professional background and offered me this job."
"I always wanted to have a job where I could help others so that I could have a positive impact on society. I liked the idea of working alongside Lu and Carmen because I respect them as human beings and I think they have created a beautiful family out of SUS INIMA."
Jonas sees SUS INIMA as an opportunity to grow both professionally and personally. "It gives me the opportunity to learn how to serve and help other people through our daily effort as a team, as a group, as human beings."

Călina Croitoru – “The crew is very dynamic and it’s really a team you can rely on.”

Călina is a social worker in SUS INIMA organisation. She graduated from the faculty of sociology and communication in Brasov, specialising in social work. In her last year of university she chose to write her bachelor's thesis on alcohol, drug and gambling addiction. So she started to collaborate with the Blue Cross association in Sibiu and for a year she commuted between Brasov and Sibiu. She made this choice because she always liked Sibiu and in 2015, after finishing university and taking her degree, she moved permanently to Sibiu. Călina says she has learned a lot since working in social work. She is eager to learn even more and get involved in projects that serve people in need. Călina is an honest, empathetic person, loves to travel and loves dogs, horses and sunsets. About her life now, she confessed that she loves what she does and is happy with where she is. Her work at SUS INIMA consists of social counselling, helping people with oncological diagnosis, providing both emotional support and the necessary guidance in terms of procedures to obtain certain documents or certificates from various institutions. Călina feels good in the SUS INIMA family, "My relationship with the team is very good, the crew is very dynamic and it's really a team you can rely on. I have something to learn from everyone and I am happy because it makes me grow both professionally and personally."