1996 Visit Reports
This year, two main teams, plus a 'bridging' team visited during the summer. The first team consisted of 10 members, 5 medics and 5 non-medics, but only 3 had visited previously. The second team contained 8 members.
The van left Liverpool and travelled via Market Harborough, North Nibley and Basingstoke before moving on to Ramsgate. Unfortunately the Acceptance of Donation document had been forgotten. The words of one of the people who say us off "You'll have to bluff your way through" being no real encouragement.
The main team arrived at the 'flat' in Mina which was in good condition. Unfortunately the articulated lorry which had the materials and supplies did not arrive, (stuck for days on the border due to incorrect paperwork), so we were unable to do as much work as hoped. A classroom floor in the school was excavated, a chair rail fixed in the dining room, plus other small tasks. We now had the opportunity to spend more time with the patients and children. This proved more difficult than usual as Istvan had to spend most of his time getting the lorry released, so communication was restricted.
It is hard to believe how much time was spent releasing the lorry. We first heard of the problem from Dr Popon on the Friday. We were unable to contact the Ministry of Health in Bucharest, so went to Eminescu hospital in Brasov where another of our contacts, Bobby Calinescu, tried to help. Whilst there we were telephoned by Jim, one of the team stuck at the border (we still have no idea how he knew where we were), but it was a relief to hear his voice, and that he was well. It was a long story, but eventually the 'Offer of Donation' was found at the Ministry of Health. The lorry then had to be driven to Brasov to pick up a Customs man to supervise the unloading of the sealed lorry. On the following Thursday, this was completed in pouring rain with the help of the patients.
It was obvious the staff were taking pride in what they did, despite the desperate conditions and lack of funding, and wanted us to know this. When we worked along side side we frequently acknowledged their expertise and dedication and this helped cement the good relationships with the staff.
Due to the non arrival of the lorry (it arrived a day before departure) , their was limited practical work the team could do, which although disappointing, meant the team spent significant time with the patients. Many of the patients showed a great deal of interest in he team and were easy to engage in the activities. It was clear they were under stimulated and craved attention. Activities focussing on relationships and personal hygiene were arranged and enjoyed by the patients. It was difficult to arrange some of the Occupational Therapy sessions because staff saw little benefit in activities which did not produce saleable goods.
There was also the opportunity to give three presentations to staff on multi-disciplinary team working, focussing on the work performed by our friends from the North Mersey Community Trust who had joined us for this visit. Thanks to Dr. Gregoriu for allowing this, and it was well received.
The second team also spent much time with the patients and nurses, and again received positive reactions from both. Lots of productive occupational therapy including knitting, sewing, crochet, jigsaws, painting and drawing was performed.
The dental surgery was still being progressed. It is almost fully equipped and all that remains is the details of attendance, payment etc.
Although limited 'building' type tasks were performed, this visit allowed us the most time ever working directly with patients and staff, and really embedded a true trust in the relationships between all. This will prove as valuable as anything we have ever done.