“With access to life's necessities, communities become self-sustaining and quality of life increases for people throughout. We are not okay, until we are all okay”.
This statement on the iTeams website captures their ethos well.
iTeams Canada is working to end poverty by providing education and the necessities of life to marginalized people around the world. Their mission is to see vulnerable people move toward fullness of life characterized by dignity, justice, peace, and hope. To achieve this, iTeams Canada adds velocity to the work of established leaders with a vision to transform their communities.
Kevin Dyer, iTeams Canada founder, had a dream that compassionate volunteers could transform lives in partnership with the communities around them. More than 50 years later, through association with churches, companies and grassroots networks of passionate people iTeams has programs in 16 communities. Their operations span Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, and Canada. The worldwide annual impact is evident: 3310 refugees supported with education, shelter or food; 243 children receive post-secondary education; 6063 children and youth receive education and nutrition.
Impact Romania, one program of iTeams Canada, is a partnership between International Teams Canada and a Romanian foundation, Pas Cu Pas. In Romanian, “Pas Cu Pas” means "step by step" which describes their practice to walk alongside the marginalized every step of the way toward flourishing.
Romania, the largest of the Balkan countries, located in southeastern Europe, has a population of approximately 21.4 million people. Under communism, the Romanian government encouraged population growth, which led to an orphan crisis. It is estimated that in 2017, 55,302 children were in the care of the state, and 18,917 were living in orphanages. However, the child welfare system in Romania is changing as children are being transferred from orphanages into group homes & foster care.
Impact Romania describes themselves as “a relational ministry that provides a consistent source of belonging, support, opportunity and growth for Romanian orphans in every aspect of their lives: emotional, social, psychological, spiritual, and physical.” They achieve this through mentorship, educational support, career training and encouraging them to help other orphans. Currently, Impact Romania is involved with approximately 300 children and youth who have grown up in orphanages within Bistrita-Nasaud and Cluj counties, in the Transylvania region of north-west Romania.
One of Impact Romania’s core projects at the moment is the Family Farm. The Family Farm is a place where kids can be part of a building and create a sense of “home,” something they may never have previously experienced. It is a safe place where youth can learn experientially as they work alongside staff and volunteers in the garden or on a small building project. And all the while, they are learning life skills that will prepare them for life after the orphanage or group homes.
We are in the early stages of developing the Family Farm land and constructing the facilities that will host our programs, and yet we are already seeing our vision for this place unfold. Volunteers are engaged and enthusiastic, generously sharing their time and expertise to reach out to kids and to help develop the Family Farm. Children and teenagers are gathering there to work side-by-side, learn and play outdoors, eat together and share stories. Community is growing and relationships are deepening. Not only have we seen so much growth & progress on the land itself but also in the lives of the many people involved!
-Rhondi Fowler, Program Champion, Impact Romania
The Family Farm has already proven to be an amazing space for Romanian children and youth to come for hope and healing. While the stories coming out of the orphanage system are grim, light is beginning to pierce through darkness with Impact Romania’s projects. Step by step, God is transforming the hearts of orphans as they experience “home” on the farm.