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Feelings & Thoughts – Maureen’s 2006 visit to Romania

December 9th, 2009 No comments

It’s hard to relate all the different feelings and emotions that I experienced during my visit to Romania. Setting out alone I was nervous and excited not really knowing what awaited me at the other end. The only certainty was Sister Mary Aloysius would meet me at the airport. Sister Mary Aloysius had booked me into a flat for my stay. At first the thought of staying in a block of flats alone filled me with apprehension as I looked out of each window in turn. However, very quickly my flat became a haven of rest and seclusion after each busy and eventful day. It was a luxury to get home at night and relax and unwind.

Child at Budimex (Marie Curie) Hospital in Bucharest
Child at Budimex (Marie Curie) Hospital in Bucharest

My first visit to Budimex (Marie Curie) Children’s Hospital in Bucharest was in some ways a culture shock for me. Although I had tried to prepare myself for the worst, some of the conditions the Doctors and nurses have to work in and the children had to live in were very poor. So many sick children, so little space and so few nurses, but the dedication of the staff, the good work being done and the difference the Lawside Romania Project is helping to bring about is overwhelming and helped me cope with the obvious suffering and hardship I encountered in the Oncology Ward, Intensive Care and the Rehabilitation Department.
It was also on my first day that I was taken to meet Mereka whom I was to spend time with and care for during my stay. Immediately he captured my heart. I had no idea then of the worries, the joys, and fears and triumphs that Mereka would bring me in 2 weeks. But I would happily have taken him home with me at the end of it all.
But despite spending a lot of time on Floor 2 of the Budimex (Marie Curie) Children’s Hospital, helping the play therapists, some time in the playroom, talking with mums and dads and witnessing how they all coped with what little they had, there was lots more to see and experience.

Children at Budimex (Marie Curie) Hospital in Bucharest
Children at Budimex (Marie Curie) Hospital in Bucharest

The Dundee S.V.D.P. society had given me a substantial sum of money for the Lawside Romania Project and friends and family too had given generously and I was privileged to see how it was to be spent and the difference it could make to so many lives.

My visit to see Nazareth house, was a lovely but quite humbling experience. The courage and pride the social parents and their grown up sons showed in the care of 5 lovely young boys was very uplifting. It is a very, very happy and love filled home despite the lack of material possessions. The joy and gratitude of the children receiving the simple gifts Traian Despa and I had bought for them was wonderful to see. There were also similar humbling visits to other poor families that the Lawside Romania Project helps regularly.

The next area of the Lawside Romania Project I was to visit was the ‘Meals on wheels’ scheme for the really needy or elderly. The different homes I visited showed me a real poverty. Large families struggling in difficult conditions to stay together, needing support, help and basic necessities like food on the table. An elderly couple praying that each of them will be enabled to help the other survive. An old lady so grateful for the help she was getting but so proud of her spotless home, however little she possessed. so many needs, so much hardship and yet such faith in God and an acceptance of what for people at home in UK would be totally unacceptable. To be able to provide a decent hot meal every day, to be able to help make homes more habitable, to bring joy, hope and the promise of some little security & comfort to these people was a very rewarding and humbling experience I will never forget.

How people can survive with so little and be so grateful  for so little, filled me with a warm glow, but also made me determined to take the message home to others so that they too will have the opportunity to help in a very practical way.

I could go on and on about my thoughts, feelings and experiences with many similar stories, but will sum up by saying I have never witnessed such faith and love despite the poverty and dreadful conditions people are proud to be living in. Even those without running water, cooking facilities, etc., give thanks to God for what they have.

Maureen