Romania was under Communist domination from 1947 through 1989. At first, the Soviet Union directly controlled Romania, however, in 1958; Nicolae Ceausescu came into power after the negotiated withdrawal of Soviet troops. Ceausescu had a monumental ambition to develop Romania into a world power that included borrowing vast sums of money from other countries and depleting the natural resources and production of Romania to pay the debt. The result was lavish palaces and impoverished people. Tens of thousands of people were killed or put in prisons for political crimes in this during this era.
Ceaucescu paid families to have many children and state institutions warehoused those who could not be cared for by their parents. Mentally or physically handicapped children were hidden from public view in prison like orphanages as Ceaucescu proclaimed that Romania had no imperfect citizens.
In 1989, the Revolution began in Timisoara. Ceaucescu was overthrown and executed but his legacy of destruction lived on. The economic infrastructure of the country was in ruins and social chaos followed as people tried to adjust from Communism to freedom. Finding food, jobs and hope was difficult. Families broke apart under the strain and many parents sent their children out to beg on the streets. Alcoholism rose dramatically and so did domestic violence. Many runaway children sniffed paint thinner and lived under bridges and begged on the streets of the major cities.
Most of the young adults of Life Academy are the product of those turbulent years just prior to and following the Revolution. The government of Romania had few resources to help them. Local orphanages developed by churches or humanitarian groups tried to step in but were largely dependent upon aid from the West to help the children. Food, shelter and clothing were the primary concerns, with few resources left over to address the psychological and emotional trauma that continues to prevent these young people from achieving their potential. Life Academy works to disciple, mentor, advise and educate young adults in their transition from group homes to independent life.