I began working in Romania during the fall of 1992, just shortly after having left a successful high-tech management position in Silicon Valley. I worked coordinating relief transports to an orphanage in Pitesti, Romania, via a fellow relief organization. What I experienced on my first trip to that orphanage in Pitesti changed my life forever.

After that first meeting with Peter, he suggested I come to Bucharest to meet with him and the mayor. I did so, and several months later the City Council voted to lease a building to us for the development of a home for street children. Our goal was to establish a city/campus where young people's physical, educational, spiritual, medical, and vocational needs could truly be met.

My friend, Cristian Soimaru, a Romanian law student, had been working with street children on his own. He was also trying to launch a project for them. I asked him to show me the street children, so he took me down to the North train station in Bucharest. I wasn't prepared for what I saw that winter night in Bucharest. Cristian took me to several sewer holes in front of the train station. When I peered down into one of those manholes, I saw a young girl holding a bag of glue over her mouth climbing up out of the sewer. After she climbed out to meet me, ten or twelve other children followed.

After seeing those children crawl out of the sewer hole that bitterly cold night, I committed in my heart to do something for the Bucharest street children. Shortly after, God, in his miraculous design, allowed me to meet a man by the name of Peter Dugulescu.

I saw children living in the middle of the icy cold winter with no heat. They had no warm clothes and a couple of the younger boys had hepatitis. However, beyond their material poverty, they had no one in the world to love them. After that first trip to Romania, I cried everyday for nearly two weeks.

As horrible as I thought the initial conditions at the Pitesti orphanage were, they did not at all compare with what I was soon to discover about the Bucharest street children.
Soon after my first trip to Romania, a friend of mine handed me an article in a French magazine about the Bucharest street children. When I read how these street children lived in the sewers during the winter, I had to go to Bucharest and see for myself whether or not this was true.
I couldn't believe my eyes, children as young as seven and eight years old, filthy dirty and high on glue fumes suddenly surrounded us and began begging for food, money, and any love and attention they could get.
Peter Dugulescu is a member of the Romanian parliament and hero of the 1989 revolution that overthrew Ceausescu. His story is told in Chuck Colson's book, The Body. When I met Peter he told me that just one week prior to our meeting, a sectoral mayor of Bucharest had approached him requesting Peter's help in solving the great problem with the street children in Bucharest.

The building was donated on February 16, 1994, under the condition that we were to have the building renovated and the project started by the beginning of August. I had six short months in which to raise funds to renovate the building, acquire all furnishings and equipment, hire staff, enroll children, and raise my personal funds with which to get to Romania.

After much prayerful consideration, we named that building "Orasul Sperantei" (which in Romanian means City of Hope). The day the building was donated I had no financial support nor any full-time staff to help me. I knew I had to work hard, pray hard, and believe God for

some fast miracles. God performed miracle after miracle and brought people into my path that literally helped make Orasul Sperantei a reality for the street children of Bucharest. A building team from the USA came and transformed the old, filthy, run-down building into a beautiful home where abandoned/orphaned children could come and receive shelter.

The project was completed on August 29, 1994. The next day we set out to bring in our first children to Orasul Sperantei.

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