Another year of caring for Romania

Another year of caring for Romania

25 September 2013

VOLUNTEERS from the local charity Helping Hands Romania have returned from their latest mercy mission.

Every year 35 members of the charity travelled to Barolt in the Transylvanian region of Romania to carry out aid work.

Last week they held a reunion at Ardglass Golf Club for members to get together for dinner, updates and to watch a dvd of their latest trip.

The group that travels to Romania is made up of tradesmen, students from Downpatrick Sports Club, social workers, nurses and psychologists. It is led by chairman John Beattie, along with Paul Sharvin, Kevin O’Shea and Cyril McKinney.

In July they finished off an extension and garden at a day centre in Barolt and they are already planning to refit the roof on the main building of the centre when they return in July next year.

When they are in Barolt they also visit the local orphanage, children’s home and children’s hospital to spend time with the children, help however they can and deliver aid, such as cloths and toys.

During their reunion they also heard about a successful operation for an 18 month-old orphan called Alex they had met.

Group member Cyril McKinney, who has returned from his eleventh trip to Romania, explained that when the group met Alex one year ago he was waiting for an operation to repair his hair lip and cleft palate.

“The reality is that people with Downs Syndrome are overlooked in Romania,” explained Cyril.

“When we were out in July we put pressure on and we heard last week that he had the operation with our influence asking questions and raising his profile,” he said.

The mercy missions to Romania started in 2002 when the group was called the Ballynoe Romania Team, before the charities Impact Romania and Helping Hands Romania were formed in 2005.

Speaking about their future plans and fundraising Cyril McKinney said: “Last summer we found a young lady called Ann Marie, aged 13 months, who needs help for a food programme and we are holding a fundraising night in the Avenue Bar in Downpatrick on September 27. “We need to raise £800.

“She was fed acid and had her legs broken by her parents for whatever reasons they saw fit.

“The young people who went out with us last summer wanted to do something for her, even though times are hard and it’s hard to raise money, and we are also trying to raise our profile,” he said.