Romania’s Café Therapy Serves Hope, Not Scones
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Romania’s Café Therapy Serves Hope, Not Scones


In case you didn’t know—because I didn’t—Romania, a country nestled between Hungry, Ukraine, Serbia, Bulgaria and Moldova, was, much like many Eastern European countries, under communist rule until 1989. After the fall, in 1995, Romania joined the European Union (EU) and began its journey toward rebuilding itself from the devastation of communism. Sadly, though, there is still much evidence of the damage incurred—one of the most glaring being Bucharest’s underworld of HIV positive drug addicts who live in the sewer tunnels that run over a mile-long under the city streets.

The community of orphaned and abandoned children—reportedly in the hundreds, some who have been there more than 24 years and are now grown—have become the country’s elephant in the room. In truth, though, the elephant isn’t actually in the room but underneath it—out of sight and so possibly out of mind.

But with various news outlets covering this cultural phenomenon for a couple of years now, these subterranean people, sometimes called The Lost Ones, may finally be getting the kind of media attention that warrants government action. The Welfare Society Territory recently reported that Romania has opened Café Therapy, its first café devoted to the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction.

I’ll Take a Vente Recovery

While I’m assuming that “café” means something slightly different in Romania than it does in Paris, I do like the idea of a bearded, hipster barista whipping up frothy lattes while therapists meet with their new clients. While I envision these name tag-wearing milk frothers discussing how to overcome an addiction to shooting synthetic methadone into the neck and inhaling metallic paint with dirt-and-grime covered clients, I’m imagining my concept is more than a little off.

Maybe they’ll serve coffee or scones or maybe they won’t. But they will definitely have social workers and psychologists available for their customers, who will most likely be amongst the less fortunate minorities in the city—the disabled, victims of domestic violence and Roma people. Though most of the Lost Ones have never known what it feels like to live a healthy and functioning life, here’s hoping this program has the power to draw a few up them from the dark tunnels and be shown the light of sobriety.

That’s a hell of a lot more than I’ve ever gotten out of a trip to a cafe.

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About Author

Danielle Stewart is a Los Angeles-based writer and recovering comedian. She has written for Showtime, E!, and MTV, as well as print publications such as Us Weekly and Life & Style Magazine. She returned to school and is currently working her way towards a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She loves coffee, Law & Order SVU, and her emotional support dog, Benson.