When she was a student, Ioana Dancanet (33 years old) went one day to the local Direction of Social Assistance and Children’s Protection in Sibiu, Romania, to tell them she wanted to help, somehow, children without parents the local authorities took care of. It was the beginning of a beautiful road, built with love and one wish only – to help, as much as possible, children in need. Today, Ioana is the “heart” of We Help!, a foundation who does free after school for children with high risk in abandoning school, helps children with medical consults, clothes, shoes or food. With wonderful people around We Help! Foundation, all volunteers, successfully social campaigns have been developed. “Shoe box”, for instance, a campaign of donations of Christmas gifts for people in need collected 2.000 gifts last year. The foundation also helped a school in a village nearby, with some renovations, and they are ready to help another school these days, in the country also.
Ioana is a joy herself, and very modest, also, I insisted for this article and I’m glad I did that. I met a person with a wonderful heart, who quietly helps, without asking for anything in return, happy to do good, with love, from heart.
“I’m Ioana and I want to help”
She was 21 years old, student in the second year at the Law School, when she went to the local Direction of Social Assistance and Children’s Protection in Sibiu, Romania. “I just felt I needed to do something for the local community, so I knocked at their door to tell them that I want to help”, she remembers, smiling. And she began volunteering for children without parents the local authorities took care of. “After a while, people from the City Hall, where I was working, started to bring me clothes for the children”, she remembers.
Then she collected money at work, and with them they organized a Christmas dinner for 50 children from those placement centers. “I was trying to do things that matter and I got very closed to small kids. One of them was 3 years old then, now she is 15 and we keep in touch. I collected money from my friends, I don’t have studies in psychology or social aid, but I just did what I felt”, Ioana says.
When a German delegation offered 5.000 euro as a donation, they arranged a playground at the placement center in Orlat, near Sibiu. The swings were bought from Germany and Sibiu City Hall helped with transport and installing. That was 7 years ago and it was the moment when she realized she started to bring people around her, to do good. And those people advised her to make a foundation, and joined into the project. A friend donated the logo, another made the website, for free. The accountant worked for free the first 4 years.
Ioana keeps on telling this during all our interview – nothing would’ve happened without beautiful people who gathered around her, all of them voluntarily. With different professions, families and jobs, they found time, whenever it was necessary, to help. “The team is extraordinary, they are my second family”, Ioana says.
After school for children in need and help for school renovation
On their first project at International Charitable Marathon from Sibiu, children who left the placement centers ran for other children not to abandon school. “We had 10 children to make an after-school for, two times a week, to help them how we can. So I went to school no.10 and told them that I’m Ioana and we want to help. We have no money – could you give us a classroom to help children with their homework?”, Ioana remembers. Now, the after-school works for 7 years already, the number of children has increased, the one of volunteers, also. When necessary, children are taken to the doctors, receive clothes or other things they need.
Another project, for the Marathon also, was “Help Tichindeal School”, a school from a poor village who needed renovation. They did a small rehabilitation, cleaned, deratized, bought necessary things, brought books, four volunteer doctors also helped children. This year money were collected for Mag school, where they will arrange a small lab with books and other necessary things for children.
2.000 Christmas gifts from donations
“We never did fundraising, people simply came to us, volunteers, the same”, Ioana says. God is always there for good people with good heart. There were moments when they ran out of money and, exactly in those moments, a donor called – as if they felt something.
Seven years ago they started “Shoe box”, collecting donations with Christmas gifts. They started with 300 and got to 2.000 last Christmas. With a donation from a Swedish company, 6.000 euro, 100 children got new winter jackets, shoes, caps, gloves and trousers.
Because of love
Since We Help! was founded, hundreds of children got help. Each child, each smile, each small joy is part of Ioana’ soul. She feels blessed and grateful for all the wonderful people around her, who made this possible. For all the joy only happy children can offer you. She speaks about them proudly – “my kids” – and tells stories about how they succeeded in changing their lives, in a good direction. Our conversation is full of emotions, sparkles or tears in her eyes. It’s that pure joy you can find only at those people who do things with love, from heart.
“I didn’t even now what I was getting into, I have another profession, a job that is not the easiest in the world, but when I see kids, when they tell me they love me and how important I am to them, things simply change. When I meet the volunteers the first thing we do is hug, from children to doctors, university teachers, everyone. I never searched for financial resources or people, they just came to me. I learn so much with them, we are like a family, we learn from the others”, Ioana says.
Ioana is manager of a public service – a busy person, taking into account her position. Yet, she finds time for children whenever necessary, and does this with love and with the conviction that, if we want things to change in a good direction, we have to start with ourselves. “The change starts with us, be the change and good things will come to you”, Ioana adds.
PHOTOS FROM PERSONAL ARCHIVE
You can find out more about WE Help! Foundation on their Facebook Page, HERE
Do you know a very special person? Someone who has followed his dream, built it piece by piece, with passion, energy and lot of soul? An usual, simple person who did something in life, who you can identify with, who can be, for others, a source of inspiration? Tell me about that person and let’s tell the others his/her beautiful story. Write me at email@example.com, here, on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.