1991 Visit Report
This year was the first visit made by the Charity to Romania. It highlighted many of the areas which have had to be considered on all subsequent visits. Transport ? How do we all get there and back ? How do we get the materials donated to Romania ? Politics, all the paperwork required to leave the UK and get through the customs into Romania. Health. Jabs ! Over a six month period in advance ensuring inoculations for Hepatitus A and B, Tetanus, Polio and Typhoid have all been covered.
Both teams travelled in the same way, by ferry from Ramsgate to Dunkirk, then by road through Belgium, Germany, Austria and Hungary into Romania. The first team had the excitement (?) of a tyre blowing within a few miles of Vienna to break the monotony of 2000 miles in a converted 7 ton Mercedes van.
The first group took a second van, filled with clothes, blankets and food, to Moldavia where flash floods had resulted from a burst dam making 15,000 people homeless.
The builders in both teams worked in the psychiatric hospital, the majority of the work being carried out in the toilet areas.
The carers worked with children in a hospital and home in Brasov, as well as with the children in the village and patients in the hospital at Mina-1-mai
The team stayed in a hotel in Brasov. At first we felt guilty about this, thinking we should be on a floor somewhere in the village, but we realised however, as the days passed, that we needed the hotel to recover for the following days work.
So what stood out during the visit ?
Reaching the borders of Romania at night, to have our papers taken away. Then a group of English frightening us with stories of being shot at and that 'they were never going back'
Driving across the border into the dark - no street lights, just a row of waiting cars queuing to get across, drivers and passengers spilling across the road as they waited to push there cars the next few yards.
Arriving at the first town of Oradia, trying to find a contact address in the early hours of the morning, few lights, fewer signs.
The first greeting from a Christian family - a hug, a laugh, a cup of tea...and a welcome night on the floor of their flat. Their hospitality in the midst of their poverty.
The smell, the potholes and the poverty as we drove through Romania.
Driving up to Bacau, near the flood area in Moldavia, only to find no contact when we arrived. The relief at finding the Baptist Church and a lorry waiting to take our load the last few miles.
The first time into the psychiatric hospital in Mina-1-mai. 150 patients, how many should there actually be ? - An iron bedstead, a mattress, a blanket, and the nightclothes you stand in, sometimes a pair of plastic shoes, sometimes bare feet. - No carpets, no curtains, bare walls, bare floor. - four 'footprint' toilets for 150 patients. - No way of flushing them, no lights, no glass windows. - Drains in the first floor windows dripping down onto those using the ground floor ones. - Outside drains smashed and leaking and the main kitchen floor seeping with sewage.
The look on the face of an elderly lady confined to her room in the hospital, knitting with the wool and needles we took with us.
The sound of some of the patients gathered around two of our carers, singing choruses from Mission Praise until their voices gave out.
What we felt like as the first flushes operated, as the lights were first switched on, as the last tile was fixed to the wall.
Meeting a young artist working on the intricate designs on the inside of the Romanian Orthodox church in Mina. Learning that from her earnings - $1 per square metre of completed painting - about 3 weeks work - she was contributing to the building of a childrens hospice in Bucharest.