EXCLUSIVE: Didi, an American woman who came to Romania, has a special story and helps children from disadvantaged backgrounds | AMURTEL appeared on protv.ro

02.07.2021

Didi Ananda Devapriya, a 48-year-old American, living here since 2005, helps Romanian children to rebuild their lives beautifully.

Didi, as all her friends call her, manages the AMURTEL Association, which takes care of children who otherwise would not have a lot of chances for a good life. They are all taken from extreme poverty, from broken families, from parents who, unfortunately, did not know how to be… parents. The little ones live in the Residential Center based in the village of Pănătău, in the Buzău county, and Didi, the American who has almost become Romanian, commutes from Bucharest to Buzău to help them.

Periodically, she even organizes lunches or dinners for those who want to donate to the association, for which she cooks the food herself. One of the dinners is taking place this Sunday, and all the details for those who want to participate can be found HERE. If you can’t make it to the event, you have the opportunity to support AMURTEL following the details HERE.

Didi spoke exclusively to protv.ro about her life in Romania, about the AMURTEL Association and especially about how you can give to others.

Who are you, Didi, what do you want people to know about you?
I am an “acharya”, meaning a teacher of meditation and yoga. I chose a nun’s lifestyle so that I could dedicate my time 100% to humanitarian and spiritual practice projects. “Didi” actually means “sister,” and my orange dress is the fire of divine love, which grows and shines when I offer help around me.

I learnt meditation in 1995 in Missouri, USA, then I was in India, and in the end I was offered to come to Romania to manage the projects of the AMURTEL Aid Association her. I immediately said, “yes, sure!”, without hesitation.

Tell me about AMURTEL, what should know about it those who want to support ?
The AMURTEL Help Association provides protection, safety, and hope for vulnerable children. In the Buzău county, in Pănătău, a small, quiet and beautiful mountain village, we manage a residential center for children who were taken from their families due to neglect and abuse, and we also have a day care center for children from the community facing various social issues.

What is the most beautiful thing that has happened to you since you started doing this?
It’s hard to choose the most beautiful thing – because there were many moments full of emotions and satisfaction. One that comes to mind is about a girl who grew up with us, who got married and became a mother. After she left our center, she seemed to have a magnet attracting critical, unstable and dangerous situations. She stayed on the street for a while, she experienced prostitution, probably drugs. I didn’t know if she would survive for long like this. But through a series of miracles, she found a new boyfriend with a very good family, where she finally began to become a more responsible woman. I always trusted her, even when others told me that she was a “lost cause” and I felt that all the effort I put in was not in vain. When I finally saw her at the wedding, integrated into a large and loving family, it was wonderful. The marriage, unfortunately, did not last long, but she continued to be more and more responsible and now works in Spain, in agriculture. We keep in touch frequently and I’m really proud of her.

And what was the hardest thing in Romania?
The hardest moment was when we found out that the funds from the organization that supported us in Switzerland from the beginning were running out. I panicked first. This in turn motivated me to fight for creating a new community of local supporters in Romania. I’m only halfway with the number of “distance adoption” required, I also have a few companies that help me to ensure a sustainable future, but now I have more confidence that we will succeed – we must!

What did you learn from everything you do?
The children taught me what resilience means and that it is never too late to make a big change in a child’s life, even if they have gone through some hard-to-imagine experiences, with violence, neglect etc. They gave me great confidence in the power of love.

What can you tell me about the children you work with?
They are heroes. They have had some very difficult experiences, but they are fighters. They have gathered in their souls frustrations, sufferings, traumas, angers, but slowly – through new relationships with balanced, good-hearted, positive people, they begin to heal and flourish.

What does a day in your life look like?
What I like is that my life is never boring. I have days when I am with the children, organizing activities directly with them, but I have many days when I work in the office: I communicate with the supporters, I organize working meetings with the program directors and teams, I supervise and manage. In the evening I also take yoga and meditation classes, or online classes on Neo-Humanistic Education. I also write articles, I like to go to the park with roller skates, to play the guitar, to meditate and to read.

What is the story of the meals you organize?
I really like to cook! It is something inherited from my mother, who since I was little, organized sophisticated dinners for my father’s employees, and I was her right hand. I am a vegetarian and I always like to experience various tastes from international cuisines, and to surprise my guests with something new and tasty. Here in Romania there are not so many restaurants with gourmet vegetarian food and people do not realize how varied, tasty and good-looking vegetarian food can be. In addition, it is an opportunity to personally meet our new and long-term supporters, in a relaxed and beautiful atmosphere.

What other events do you organize?
At the Morningstar Center, where I organize lunches or dinners for those who are interested, I also have yoga and meditation classes and we have a lady who does Ayurvedic massage. All the money raised in these activities support our social projects.

In addition, I regularly organize “Play Days” at the AMURTEL Family – an opportunity for those who have made a distance adoption or support our projects to interact directly with the children in a way that is as easy as possible – through play! We organize all kinds of workshops and interactive games. The next one will take place in September, and we also do online events for those who can’t travel to Pănătău.

In addition, we organize the “Open Doors” days at the Fountain of Hope After School Center and at the AMURTEL Bio Garden. Next Friday, July 9, at 10:00, we are waiting for you at the Open Doors at the After School Center!

How can those who want to help your Association get involved?
A heavy weight becomes lighter when it is shared with many people and our children benefit from such a warm and healing environment only thanks to the supporters involved. For people who want to have a direct and personal impact on a child’s life, there is the “Distance Adoption” program, with a recurring monthly donation, starting from 100 RON / month. I was pleasantly impressed and surprised to discover that our Romanian supporters are the most involved and generous. We have several who have chosen the level of support of 400 RON and who also want to develop a close relationship with the “adopted” child. We encourage a genuine relationship.

In addition, those representing companies can support our activity through sponsorship contracts and can receive deductions from the corporate income tax.

The article can be read here in Romanian.