Alisha Sidebottom served side by side with Firm Foundations Romania for over 6 years. However, 2015 is the year that God is calling her back to her homeland in Michigan to pursue the next chapter of her life. No one can replace Alisha’s heart. Her love and passion to help others is a gift from God. Here is her testimony about her time in Romania:“I first came to Brasov, Romania by train after flying into Bucharest, and this was my first impression: a train station where ladies slept on the floor, dogs roamed for food, and the only items to buy for dinner were beer, bread or water. Our trip took six hours instead of three, and I remember hearing drunken men walking in the streets and the loud sound of the bus that went by our apartment. When morning came, the sun was up and a rooster from the neighbor’s yard was crowing as if to welcome me to my new surroundings. I didn’t come to Romania to see family or vacation; I came because I heard there were babies without parents who needed to be loved. The children’s hospital is a place to treat sick kids, but for some of them it becomes a second home. I was there to comfort the ones who just get dropped off with no one to stay with them, no one to change their diaper, no one to comfort them when the nurse has to give an IV or medicine. Those babies were left in the hospital felt just as unsure as I did coming into a foreign country.
After my initial three-week trip, I made Romania my home in 2009, one year after my first visit. The people I worked with became close friends, almost like family. I grew to know the culture and how things go in Romania and it all became “normal,” even the beggars on the streets became friends. I love Romania. The rich, the broken, the country side, the cities, the culture and everything that it has to offer! There is such a strong sense of character, even in the corruption. And after five years, I can see the change for a better future of Romania happening. I remember one Roma mother I talked to told me that she and her husband prayed for a baby boy. When she gave birth to him, he had a clef pallet and she came crying, “I can’t take him home, no one will accept him, they will make fun of him.” We talked with her and told her how simple it is to have surgery and fix this. A year later I saw her again in the hospital, her son was getting ready to have surgery to fix his clef pallet. She was so happy and relieved. All it took was someone encouraging her and pointing her in the right direction. I remember one little girl being dropped off at the hospital and her mother crying as she yelled out, “I don’t want her because I can’t take care of her.” I thought to myself but do you want her? Who would help her see the value of her child? She must have been so hopeless that she believed a lie that she could not keep her baby. I’ve seen so much pain and suffering, particularly with the Roma people. They tend to have many children who will be part of the future of Romania. How can we help teach these kids and accept them? I walk down the streets of Brasov and see people sitting at the little cafés laughing, while 20 minutes outside the city are babies without clothes or food sitting in mud shacks. Who will help? Meeting needs can come in many different ways and this is what Romania has taught me. Yes, people need food, a warm bed, clothes and shoes, however they also need love.”
Thank you Alisha Sidebottom. Firm Foundations Romania will miss you!
Sarah Vienna Berchtold
President of Firm Foundations Romania