Gabriela's role within Bronx People is crucial. With Daniel Zodian, she co-ordinates many of the activities offered to the children hosted by the organisation and takes care of communication, among other things, but not exclusively. To explain this constant commitment, we must dig into her personal history a little.

Gabriela grew up in a small village 8 km from Bacau in Romania. Until the age of 14, she remembers a happy childhood, focused on nature, but during adolescence, things became complicated and the relationship with her parents became more strained. "I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I was lost. I felt like no-one could help me."

Only her mother worked to support the household and as a result, she did not have much time to devote to Gabriela. Her father was not really present. "In a way, I was ashamed; my life was damaged. I tried to connect with my father but I never really succeeded; he had violent outbursts. I spent most of my adolescence wondering why I didn't have a family like others. I wondered what I had done wrong."

Gabriela was lucky to be brilliant at school but shame tormented her. At that time, a belief persisted in that society that being violent with children was a sign from heaven because it helped parents raise their offspring. Thanks to her academic results, Gabriela was able to escape and she went to study in Bucharest. It was on her return to Bacau that she crossed paths with Daniel. She had then started working for another organisation and discovered Bronx People on social networks.

The Children’s Craft Village is under construction

It was Christmas time and the association was preparing for the end of the year. She decided to prepare gifts for the children and went to the dojo for the first time. "I knew what a Christmas without gifts meant. I noticed right away that Daniel had the ability to see the good in the people around him. I told myself that it was worth getting involved with Bronx People. In fact, when you meet Daniel you quickly realise that he has a huge heart and that it is not possible not to love him. That is what the children feel."

Gabriela's heart melted when she met the children of Bronx People. "I was in severe depression at the time, with bad thoughts, but with Bronx People I learned to live again and to rejoice in small things. It was a 180° turn when I volunteered for the organisation. It is important that young people understand that it is normal to have problems, that they should not be ashamed of them and that they simply have to learn to manage them. We work on this every day together. We choose the good side of life and leave the bad behind us. When you choose the power of life over death, it is a great victory. This power is given back to me by Daniel and the children."

Bronx People has many projects. The Children’s Craft Village is one of them. Under construction, it will soon welcome more children and will offer them art, music and of course judo. The idea is to offer activities to both vulnerable children and those who are doing well. There will be days for families, a medical centre, accommodation for people passing through and structures to accommodate young people with cognitive disabilities.

Gabriela is not a judoka but she has an opinion on the matter, "The moral code of judo is so important because it has the power to transform children. By practising judo, they become happy and quickly want to get involved with other activities. For me, it is real therapy because by working here, I do not age, I stay young in my head and it feels great."

Taking back control of her choices and making the right ones, these are the lessons that Gabriela has learned from her experience at Bronx People. More committed than ever, more dedicated than ever to the wellbeing of the residents, she herself draws benefits from it that are difficult to quantify. This is perhaps the key to the success of Bronx People: everyone benefits and everyone moves towards a brighter horizon.

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