Home > Budimex Children's Hospital, Glimpse from 2008, Lawside Romania Project > What Can Be Done? This Is The Joyful Question Of Hope!

What Can Be Done? This Is The Joyful Question Of Hope!

During my stay, I have been fortunate enough to have the chance to admire many of Bucharest’s historic monuments and lovely parks. My fondest and most profound memories of my stay however are of a Bucharest which a tourist would never expect to discover. My work has centred on the Budimex (Marie Curie) children’s hospital but living in Sector 4 (once the poorest sector) I have found myself surrounded by need. I have learned from the Lawside Romania Project that works of mercy cannot be restricted to one place or scheduled into a normal 9- 5 working day. Rather, you have to be prepared for your plans to be changed even as you step out the front door and meet the old lady begging on the street. I think one of the greatest things about the approach of the Lawside Romania Project is that the stories of people’s lives are really valued. This means that charity is not sporadic and the person in need, their family, and their story do not remain anonymous and unknown. The ‘Meals on wheels’ project is one such example of the way in which old people receive continuous support in the form of a hot meal each day.

Sisters of Mercy / Lawside Romania Project provide relief for poor, destitute families.

Sisters of Mercy / Lawside Romania Project provide relief for poor, destitute families.

Entering the hospital lift, Sister Mary Aloysius and I would try to recall our list of abandoned or orphaned children in the hospital and their respective floors. I couldn’t help but wonder to myself how many minutes it would be before one of us was back in the lift and dashing to Tibby’s shop for nappies, wipes or some other basic necessity. Even in the course of my few weeks I have encountered with Sister Mary Aloysius many children in the hospital who literally have nothing and nobody. Dear Valentine is now in an orphanage because his family is homeless but when we were first shown to him he had only the clothes he was left in. Valentine is a beautiful boy despite his marks of abuse and I’ll never forget his grin when we brought him a pair of new pyjamas and a packet of bubbles.

 

What can I say about darling Georgiana? This must be one of the hardest situations because we were forced to challenge the hospital’s standards of care in the interest of this abandoned child. Georgiana is dying of cancer but her condition was such that neglect was adding insult to injury. The 3 year old was tied to her bed unable to move, her skin was pealing and turning a blackish purple colour, the sheets were very dirty and she was wearing the filthiest nappy imaginable so that her skin all under her nappy and round the top of her legs was red raw. No wonder she cried! ‘It’s crucifixion!’ Sister Aloysius would exclaim and thank goodness Sister Aloysius was adamant because conditions for Georgiana have now had to improve. I can sleep tonight knowing that she was sleeping peacefully when I left. Her hands are now untied in light mitts to save scratching, her skin is much recovered and she is clean and lying in a clean bed. We cannot provide a cure for the cancer inside her but we can try to give her comfort and care until the end.

 

I do not have enough space to write the stories of all the little ones but remembering now the sheer need and vulnerability of the children and elderly people here, tears come easily to my eyes. Every day there were countless moments when I felt as if I had been hit in the chest by the poverty in both material and emotional terms. Today for instance I thought of the drastically different fortunes of 12 year old Alexandro and my own 12 year old brother. Alexandro has been bed bound since birth because of his legs, has received no education, and is being supported by his teenage sister. There he lay clutching a small broken radio he had once been given. What can be done? This is the joyful question of hope. ‘Nazareth’, a Sisters of Mercy apartment and the home of 5 previously abandoned boys, is the living, dancing and singing reality of this hope. My visit to ‘Nazareth’ has settled the case in my mind that, before any material considerations, what is needed so desperately here is a lot of love.

 

Thinking right back to Heathrow airport I was asked the question as apart of a survey: “is your visit for holiday or business?” I couldn’t answer the question then and I can’t now. If it has been a ‘holiday’, it is certainly one I shall never forget. The ‘business’ of the Sisters of Mercy, on the other hand, is alien to those common business principles of profit and self gain.

Rather, it is a business of the highest and most absurd sort; it is the business of Christ.

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