Posts Tagged ‘‘Nazareth’ apartment’

A Letter from Gerard McILROY

November 29th, 2009 No comments

On arriving in Romania I did not know what to expect. Of course I had seen the news reports on television detailing the plight of the orphans in this country but that was not enough to make any judgments.

What I found in 2005 was a beautiful country full of fantastic people, young and not so young! But it was the Lawside Romania Project and its leaders which really impressed me and to see what has been achieved during the fourteen years of the Project’s existence would be an amazing story to tell.

Children in Romania
Children in Romania

Not only has food been put on plates and money in the pockets of many destitute families but – more importantly, smiles have been put on faces of these needy people.

Thinking back on my experiences with a family of eleven children with very little of this world’s goods and of Nazareth (the Sisters of Mercy house for children in Bucharest) where five little abandoned boys live a happy family life, and also the mothers and children in the Budimex (Marie Curie) Hospital, brings a tear to my eyes – not tears of sadness but of joy! Joy of seeing faces light up when any of the Lawside Romania Project team visits them, bringing gifts or simply being there to shake their sufferings.

Children in Romania
Children in Romania

This is a wonderful Project which has made an extraordinary difference to hundreds if not thousands of people.

I am honoured to have been part of the Lawside Romania Project volunteers and can truly say this has been an influence for good in my life and, for this I am grateful.

Gerard McILROY

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

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