AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week Most of the babies were abandoned by their parents who couldn’t afford medical care. Many will live inside the Tutova facility in eastern Romania for two to three years. Then they’ll head to foster care. Some will return home. “They were used to seeing teams come in,” she said. “When the toddlers saw us in the lobby, they got so excited that they started walking toward the door and waving hello.” Many of the patients, from newborns to age 3, suffer from malnutrition and anemia. Almost all have special needs with language or sensory delays and problems with their motor skills, Chang said. As an occupational therapist, 32-year-old Chang works with infants and toddlers who have special needs. She hoped to do the same with patients in the clinic. But bottle feedings and diaper changings overrode that idea because there were many children in need. In fact, many are dependent on bottles. They resist regular food because they don’t have experience with it. With a regular staff of five, there isn’t time to teach the children how to eat another way. VALENCIA – The image of the babies, their arms outstretched, wanting to be held, weighs on her mind. There were about 35 in all. Some in cribs. Some trying to walk. All in need of help. And that was Abby Chang’s job. For two weeks, the Valencia woman and 15 other volunteers, tended to sick children and those with special needs living at a failure-to-thrive clinic in Romania. Meal time often looks like an assembly line. Children are lined up to eat oatmeal and fed from just one bowl with the same spoon, Chang said. But there were triumphs as well. Such as the little boy who took his first steps after Chang practiced walking with him down a hallway. And a young girl who reached for a spoon and fed herself. “This is actually a very good facility,” she said. “At the same time, it makes me sad because most of the children there have developmental issues, and the two weeks there won’t make a dent in anything.” Problems for Romania began under the ruling of former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, who took power of the then Communist country in 1965. Large families were encouraged. Birth control was outlawed. Although Ceausescu was overthrown and executed in 1989 and Communism ended there in 2000, birth control still has not caught on with Romanians, Chang said. The volunteer program in Romania began in 1999 after people learned of the clinic and contacted Global Volunteers, a nonprofit that sends volunteers around the nation and to 19 countries on short-term programs. “They asked us to send volunteers because there are some very great needs there with these vulnerable children,” said Barb DeGroot, media relations manager of the Minnesota-based organization. Volunteers pay between $2,295 to $2,495, depending on their length of stay in Romania. Fees include meals, lodging and transportation to the site. Participants stay in a hotel on the outskirts of Barlad and take a bus to the clinic. Chang will return to Romania in 2007. Sue Doyle,(661) [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!