Our 2005 visit to Romania

The best way to see what has been and still needs to be done is to visit the country yourself. Sharon and I have found this to be so.
Budimex (Marie Curie) children’s hospital is full of contrasts. The modernising work which the Sisters of Mercy and the Lawside Romania Project has accomplished shows up the many areas needing to be done. Much money has been spent and it is marvellous to see how new tiles and paint can change a room from dark and dingy to bright and attractive. However, there is a long way to go in a hospital where doctors work tirelessly while their patients are in small, overcrowded wards with only one toilet to a floor. Actually, though some children may be ready to go home, these kind doctors allow them to be kept on some time as they are poor and they are always sure of a meal in Budimex (Marie Curie) Hospital.

No-one in the UK is as poor as some of the people we have seen in the last two weeks. We visited a family with many children who live with their mother in a very poor house made of earth. While the Lawside Romania Project was providing ‘meals on wheels’ life must be very uncomfortable in a house where the roof leaked and walls are damp. The ceiling in one room was ready to collapse but Traian Despa is arranging to have a new roof and many repairs done. We were delighted to know too that the Lawside Romania Project had donated six new mattresses also school-bags and books. However, despite all the problems, the children were clean and happy and sang and recited poetry for us. The biggest surprise came when these children, without prompt, stood with reverence to pray.

A huge joy was to visit ‘Nazareth’. This house for children was founded by the Sisters of Mercy nine years ago. To conform to the law here the numbers are small – there are five little abandoned boys all under nine years of old. House “parents”, Mr. and Mrs. Bucura have created a superb atmosphere for these children and these boys are the most normal children you could find. Always they are happy and they proudly showed us their merit certificates from school. Actually our visit to ‘Nazareth’ was the most uplifting experience during our stay in Bucharest.

A Dutch company, who knows Mr. Traian Despa, kindly gave the loan of a mini-bus on two occasions. The first outing was for children from the Oncology Ward and consisted of a visit to Herastrau Park, a boat ride and a meal in a restaurant. We were happy to be involved in the second outing; we took three physically handicapped children and two from Oncology Ward to the zoo and to a meal. The look of joy and excitement on these children’s faces on this outing made us feel these trips are so worth-while. Now we dream of the Lawside Romania Project having its own mini-bus so that more children can escape the dullness of a hospital ward even for an hour or so.

Abandoned children in Romania

Abandoned children in Romania

One afternoon we were taken to visit two elderly ladies both of whom receive ‘Meals on Wheels’. The conditions in which they live are not even basic. One lady shares a very small room with her grandson of 15 years of age. He has been abandoned by his parents. The other lady has no family to care for her. Her toilet and water supply are outside the house. Both ladies receive approximately ₤20 per month. It is vital that these and others like them receive that meal-a-day. It is vital too that funding for this is kept up.

We have really enjoyed our visit to Romania. The Lawside Romania Project is doing a wonderful job out here, helping to ease the suffering of many but there is still much work to do.


Joy Hay
Sharon Oxford

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