Home > Budimex Children's Hospital, Glimpse from 2008, Lawside Romania Project > My Time In Romania Was Definitely Memorable

My Time In Romania Was Definitely Memorable

In April 2008 I went to volunteer in the Budimex Marie Curie Hospital for sick children in Bucharest, Romania.

 My family has been involved for some time with the Lawside Romania Project, a catholic organisation  based in Scotland run by The Sisters of Mercy. The Lawside Romania Project helps with collections, fundraising and sourcing volunteers for work in Romania. They help not only the sick children but also orphans, poor families and the elderly providing food and other essentials.

The principal volunteer based in Bucharest is the formidable Sister Mary Aloysius. A truly extraordinary woman of immense strength, determination, faith and humble modesty who inspires all whom she encounters.

 The children we visited just love Traian Despa as he is a very paternal figure, jolly and affectionate. They can’t stop hugging him and are bursting to tell him the latest news about  how they are getting on at school or happily sing little songs or recite poetry.  It was very heartwarming to see these little children full of joy and life. 

We visited a home called ‘Nazareth’, not far from the hospital itself.  Nazareth is a family of eight foster children.  The Lawside Romania Project helped these orphaned children find a family and now have a stable, loving environment and are all receiving an education. In the orphanage , some of these children were written off as retarded. But far from being retarded these children delighted in singing, dancing, reading, reciting poetry and showing us their schoolbooks.

So, it just shows you what a huge difference it makes to find these children a real home…

I spent most of my time in the hospital with children who were abandoned. This is where I felt most needed.  I saw some very sad things there.  When a baby has no parents or anyone to pick them up, remaining in bed, their head takes the form of the bed, that is, their skulls are flatter.  Their muscles also start to atrophy because they are not used, as well as the risk of bedsores.  Their growth and progress is completely hindered as no one has the time to spend with them. Volunteers can provide much needed human contact and interaction, taking them in their arms, providing love and affection by cuddling, talking and singing to them…

Abandoned children of Romania

Abandoned children of Romania

Of course you have to be careful you don’t get too emotionally involved. One little girl in particular leaves a deep impression with me… Admitted to the hospital from an orphanage with a chest infection, Petruca, seemed like a little boy at first until she was given a much needed bath and change of clothing. Tiny, skinny, shy and uncommunicative ,short hair, little brown eyes full of confusion and sadness. I spent as much time as I could but it was never enough.  At this point she does not want to be left on her own anymore and went into hysterics when it was time to say goodbye.  Through lack of human interaction and love she has slight behavioral problems and slow development for her age. One of the junior doctors called her retarded but I severely doubted this after having spent some time with her. 

Working on the cancer ward is a wonderfully mature young lady, Raluca, she is a 22 year-old studying a degree in Theology and Social Studies. In her final year,  between studies, Raluca manages to find the time to work as a playgroup therapist with children suffering from cancer. The ward has a tiny little playroom where Raluca and other volunteers can provide some relief from the ongoing treatment and the waiting around.

(The hospital is filled to capacity with very little ventilation, definitely no air conditioning. It was already very hot in April… I can’t imagine how much it heats up during the summer.)

Raluca is an only child who gets paid very little for her work yet she is supporting both her parents and grandmother. A former patient at the hospital herself, she has overcome many obstacles and continues to make a difference in the lives of these children. She has been offered a place on the Master’s course next year. It would be great if we could find someone helping sponsor her studies. The education fees are only 400 Euros a year.

I also spent some time in the outpatient’s Physiotherapy Unit. The staff there are doing a great job helping these children improve their motor skills and muscle coordination and strength. The two in particular who stand out were the very lovely and friendly Annie and Dana. Although they really need new flooring in their work area, it  being easily consumed with the sheer volume of patients and their parents. (Budimex Marie Curie is the main children’s hospital in Bucharest).

Lawside Romania Project is helping ill or abandoned children

Lawside Romania Project is helping ill or abandoned children

Thankfully due to enormous fundraising efforts and donations the conditions of the hospital have improved a lot but there is still a long way to go. I asked Dr. Secheli and Sister Mary Aloysius what the hospital needs the most… Sister Aloysius would love to see more pushchairs and wheelchairs for the parents who have to carry their  sick children in their arms. Dr. Secheli would like to see more modern equipment for the operating theatres.

There is also a demand for volunteers and I would recommend if you are sincerely thinking about  it,  go with a friend as it can be tough going sometimes and it is good to work as a team… My cousin Lucia was there at the same time and a lovely Scottish lass, Katie, so it was good to have the company and to support each other.

 What also made my trip special was the great hospitality provided by Nic and Louise. I am very grateful for all their generosity.

My time in Romania was definitely a memorable one, an ‘unforgettable experience’ you could say, that helps put everything into perspective.    

Bringing a little smile and some joy into the difficult lives of these children is an experience I would recommend to anyone, what’s that saying? A little bit of Love goes a long way…

 If anyone is interested in donating or helping in any way please do not hesitate to contact.


Aileen McGinnis, Ireland

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