FGCI’s InSNC program officially begins

August 29, 2017

by Joel Burkum


For twenty years FGCI has been working in Zebil, Romania, at a government-sponsored center for special-needs children and adults, and has, over that time, developed a very good working relationship with the county’s Child Protection and Adult Care government agencies and officials. 

FGCI-InSNC staff members Joel Burkum (far right), Dr. Angie Fannon (center in light blue) and Sheena Davidson (standing near Dr. Fannon) with Tulcea County Child Protection officials in the soon-to-be-renovated Sunshine Room (Sensory/Therapy Room) in the Zebil center for adults with mental and physical challenges.

FGCI Executive Director Joel Burkum with Ionela, the girl who inspired FGCI’s new Individual Specialized Needs Care (InSNC) program.

Three years ago while on a visit to the Zebil center, For God’s Children International (FGCI) Executive Director Joel Burkum met a young lady who served as the inspiration for FGCI’s new InSNC (Individual Specialized Needs Care) program.  When Joel met Ionela and heard her story, he was moved to establish the InSNC ministry to serve special-needs adults and children living in Tulcea county where Zebil is located.  FGCI’s motto and mission is “to provide hope, dignity and love in Jesus’ name” for God’s precious, hurting children.  The Individual Specialized Needs Care ministry fits perfectly into this mission. 


Over the past two years, FGCI has been laying the groundwork for this program to serve special-needs adults and children by assessing their individual challenges and implementing one-on-one education, counsel, therapy and treatment that will assist in improving their health, their quality of life, and their daily life skills. 

InSNC Romanian worker Mihaela and a physical therapy student provide therapy and personal attention to several adults with special needs in the Zebil center.

Tulcea, ROMANIA—On August 7, 2017, FGCI Executive Director Joel Burkum and Mr. Gabriel Marinov, Tulcea County Child Protection General Director, shake hands to officially launch FGCI’s new InSNC program in Zebil.

InSNC will focus on two groups of individuals:  1) the most severely-challenged (physically, mentally or socially), and 2) the least challenged showing the greatest potential for independent or semi-independent living.


In the spring of 2017, FGCI received official approval from Tulcea County officials to initiate the InSNC program and to renovate three rooms in the Zebil center where the program will operate.  Having received this approval, FGCI began searching for sponsorship and staff for the new program. 

This room will be renovated and outfitted to become the InSNC “Sunshine Room.”  It will be used for occupational and physical therapy sessions daily.

The shower area across the hall from the Sunshine Room will be renovated for handicap access, safety, privacy and comfort.

Renovations to the toilet area will lower toilet stools to the floor level, making them accessible for residents with physical challenges, and will include handrails.

Dr. Angie Fannon, a pediatric occupational therapist from Apex, NC joined the FGCI staff as InSNC Therapy Programs Director.  Dr. Fannon has traveled to Romania several times over the past 20 years.  She has accompanied FGCI teams for the past two years, and during that time has led and contributed to FGCI-sponsored ENGAGE symposiums and support groups related to Special Needs Care and Occupational Therapy.

Pediatric OT, Dr. Angie Fannon, demonstrates therapy techniques on a 2016 ENGAGE symposium attendee.

Dr. Fannon works with a young lady from the Zebil center, giving a government worker ideas for helping to comfort and improve daily life skills for residents living in the center.

FGCI has hired two full-time Romanian workers to serve as our first Sunshine Squad (Echipa Razelor de Soare) members, providing one-on-one occupational therapy sessions daily with the severely-challenged residents at the Zebil center.  The Zebil center has more than 120 residents, currently.  As soon as the new Sunshine Room (the Sensory/Therapy room) is renovated and outfitted for physical and occupational therapy, workers will be seeing clients all day long from Mondays through Fridays.  Already, FGCI has begun to see dramatic improvements in the lives of the residents with whom FGCI staff and volunteers are working.

Doina Stefan (left) and Mihaela Apreotesei are FGCI’s first Romanian InSNC employees.  Each weekday, Doina and Mihaela do occupational and basic physical therapy for the residents of the Zebil center for adults with special challenges.

InSNC worker Mihaela works with a young man in the Zebil art therapy room.

InSNC worker Doina helps to develop Ionela’s motor skills by playing catch with a rubber ball.

This summer, FGCI interns and volunteers worked alongside FGCI workers Mihaela and Doina to provide one-on-one interaction, education and therapy for residents at the Zebil center.  Occupational therapy is a relatively new concept in Romania.  And programs designed to enrich and assist the lives of people with disabilities are fairly rare.  Also, limited budgets for Romanian institutions don’t allow sufficient funding for much more than the basic provisions of shelter, clothing, food and medicine.  So, the InSNC program is a very good complement to the care provided by the government centers.  FGCI is seeking American and Romanian professionals experienced in the Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Medical professions to inspire, educate and train its InSNC workers in Romania.

FGCI summer interns Rachel Cook and Karly Freels help teach writing skills to Zebil residents.

FGCI intern Rachel Hecker works with a Zebil resident on math skills.

FGCI was blessed to receive funding for the InSNC program startup costs from the Million Dollar Round Table Foundation.  On July 8th at a special luncheon, FGCI friend and supporter Randy Johnson (member of the MDRT Foundation and husband of FGCI board member Carol Johnson) presented the board of directors of FGCI with a $4,000 grant.  These funds are being used to help FGCI purchase and send to Romania a sea container filled with equipment, fixtures and supplies for the new Sunshine Room (the Sensory/Therapy Room) at the Zebil, Romania, facility. 

MDRT Foundation member and representative Randy Johnson (left) presents FGCI Board of Directors Chairman Bob Walter a $4,000 check toward InSNC startup costs.  Randy’s wife (far left) is a member of the FGCI Board of Directors.  Randy and Carol have been supporters of FGCI for 20 years.  Carol has served in Romania and Moldova on several missions trips over that time.

This sea container will be filled with equipment and supplies for the new InSNC Sensory/Therapy Room in Zebil, Romania.  FGCI is currently seeking donations of equipment and supplies to include in the shipment scheduled to be sent on January 20, 2018.

The sea container has already been purchased, and the tentative date for shipping the container to Romania is January 20, 2018.  [If you are interested in sponsoring anything to put into the sea container for the InSNC program, please contact FGCI for a list of needs and drop off location.]  There are other designated funds set aside for the InSNC program, but FGCI will continue to need funding for staffing and ongoing operational expenses.  Renovations to the shower room and toilet area are scheduled to begin immediately.

The current toilets in this wing of the Zebil facility are nearly inaccessible for a great number of the residents with physical challenges.  The renovations FGCI plans to provide will remedy the access issues and will help give more independence to the adults in Zebil with special needs.

Sharing the love of Christ and a little personal attention joined with creativity can begin to draw out the personality and spirit of an individual with special needs.  Here, FGCI Administrative Liaison Jeremy Befort engages Ionela as he shows her a photo on his cell phone.

The renovations will include:  leveling the hallway and room floors and entryways; enlarging doors for wheelchair entry; connecting adjoining shower and toilet rooms with a new door; creating comfortable and private shower spaces for handicap access; new plumbing throughout both rooms; handicap-accessible sinks and toilet stool fixtures with handrails and room for aids to assist.


The Sensory/Therapy room will be outfitted with large mirrors (for therapy), floor mats, physical and occupational therapy equipment (including a large, heavy-duty swing set with attachments for sensory therapy), horseshoe table, adaptive seating and eating utensils, sound system, improved lighting, exercise equipment, toys, tools and therapy games, etc.



For God’s Children International

P.O. Box 434

Council Bluffs, IA  51502-0434

(712) 328-3776

For God’s Children International (also known as FGCI and Fagucci), is a Christ-centered benevolent ministry for children.  FGCI is based in Council Bluffs, Iowa USA.  FGCI serves needy children in Romania, Moldova and in the United States.  FGCI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation of Iowa (Fed. I.D.#42-1448176) and is supported by freewill gifts.  Below are ways to give to FGCI.

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P.O. Box 434, 

Council Bluffs, IA 51502

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