The children called her „our mom”
(Gleanings from an interview with Sergiu Remencu, son of Alexandra Remencu, the headmistress of the Children’s House during 1929-1940)
- Mister Sergiu Remencu, we have found that a big part of the Chisinau history is also connected with your family. You are the son of Alexandra Remencu, the lady invited to Vatican… In what year did this happen?
- My mother was born in Orhei district, Peresecina village, in a family of priests. She studied at Odessa University, faculty of mathematics. She was 32 years old when she was named the headmistress of the orphanage for children from Chisinau, an unique institution in its own way. In 1938, Miss Maria Montessori, the representative of the Nations League, has invited my mother to a special congress that took place in Rome, asking her to share the experience of institutionalization of children from poor families. The same time, my mother visited Vatican, being invited by the Pope Pius XI. She returned full of impressions and memories, but also with future plans.
- Did she manage to realize those plans?
- She didn’t get to, all my mother’s dreams shattered in 1940. Once the regime had changed, the orphanage was closed.
- The war started...
- Yes, during the war we found refuge in Gaiesti city, Romania. My mother worked as a nurse there, being awarded with the Order of the Red Cross for this. She passed away in 1959. She was always remembering her disciples from the orphanage and had only one regret: that she couldn’t help more children.
- Where the orphanage was settled, on what street?
- In the building on the 1, Marele Voievod Mihai Street of Chisinau. Today, it is named, 1, S. Lazo, and the National Institute of Justice is settled there.
- For how long did your mother run that institution?
- She was the principal of the Kindergarten no. 7 (“Children’s House” Orphanage) between the years 1929-1940. I studied there too, I have lived in the orphanage during the first seven years of my life. As headmistress, my mother was provided some rooms on the first floor. One of the rooms was occupied by my father, the second by me and my mother and in the third my brother was living. After many years, when I had the chance to visit the building, I was very nervous entering the rooms where I have spent my childhood... Today, in those rooms there are the working offices of the NIJ employees. I remembered the place of my father’s library was and the big table under which I was hiding when making pranks, it was like I have seen my room with a huge bed that was so sweet to sleep on… I was glad to see that the windows remained unchanged: high, with a wide ledge. The only difference that then they were closed with shutters and now with blinds.
- Do you still remember children from the orphanage?
- There were permanently 70-80 children in the orphanage. They were from poor families, without one or both of parents. I remember one day, two sisters were brought. Their parents got burned in the fire. The girls were safe, but it took a long time for them to recover after the shock they passed through. There were other cases, equally dramatic, that’s why they were treated by Dr. Kotovski, the doctor at the Sanatorium for Neurological Disorders, which was located not far from the orphanage. The children were also consulted for free by other doctors. There were also children with serious problems. I remember a boy and how my mother was telling me to play more with him … When the war started, everyone was evacuated somewhere in Russia, in Ural. They worked there at a factory of weapons production and... only two girls returned. In the last years, when my mother was dying, she was visited by a man. It was Nicusor, the yesterday child. Although she was very sick, my mother recognized him... They cried of happiness of seeing each other again. I left out and when I came back into the room, the man was down his knees near my mom’s bed, and she was touching his head... The children loved her, they called her « our mom »...
- Alexandra Remencu
- Teachers and educators from the Children’s House. First on right bottom – Alexandra Remencu
- They represented the Children’s House in the interwar period
- The bedroom in the Children’s House
- Raising silk cockroaches
- Children are getting used to folk traditions
- During the war, Alexandra Remencu worked as nurse in the Gaesti city, Romania, for which the Romanian Government awarded her with the Order of the Red Cross.