Book Review: Odyssey of a Romanian Street Child by Catalin Dobrisan and John Kachelmyer



Author John Kachelmyer spent many years of his life in destitute places doing ministry among marginalized youth. Romania was just one chapter in his life, but this one chapter for him helped many children add new chapters and create alternative endings to their own stories. This book focusses on the story of a young man named, Cătălin.

This book is written as a memoir, a personal recollection of childhood as a young boy living through the fall of communism in Romania and then facing the social challenges that followed. Cătălin’s story reflects that of many street children in Romania during the 1990s after the collapse of communism, and provides insight into the complex social problems facing Romanians both during and after the fall of Communism. He recalls simple day to day things such as how families shared the burden of water usage, electricity, and other utilities to the darker effects of Ceausescu’s dictatorship such as his mother seeking illegal abortions. 

As Cătălin indicates, unfortunately, many street children were not orphans in the technical definition of the word. With all forms of birth control outlawed, parents were overwhelmed with caring for more children then they intended to have. In the case of Cătălin, an abusive father and an indifferent mother made life on the streets more desirable than life in a “home.” In the case of his friends, he describes the harsh realities of abuse within institutions that forced many children to run away and band together on the streets. Once on the streets, freezing winters, hot summers, drug addiction, prostitution, begging and sexual immorality were common challenges for these children who were often ignored by the common Romanian citizen.

Although Cătălin was able to overcome these challenges and experience transformation through the faith and ministry of author John Kachelmyer, this book in no way romanticizes the idea that with just a little love and patience these children will be saved. In fact, it is very transparent about the difficulties in working with street children, because of drug addiction, the lack of trust, the victimization, etc. However, it stresses the need to work with these marginalized youth despite the challenges.

If you are seeking an accurate depiction of life on the streets for Romanian children, a book that describes in detail the complexity of the social problems they face, one that describes the emotional and psychological toll of street life, I would highly recommend this simple, straight forward personal account of Cătălin.

To make purchasing this book easier we have included a link where you can find it on Amazon.

Dobrişan, C., & Kachelmyer, J. (2002). Odyssey of a Romanian Street Child. Lake Mary, Florida: Creation House Press.