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Anna Boneham
Volunteer Co-ordinator
Ext: 3198

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Romania
Smiles all round at Casa Lumina
Romania
A volunteer gets a soaking
Romania group
One of the groups of helpers with children from the orphanage

Internal News - 03 August 2006

Students make a difference for Romanian orphans

A group of 19 students plus one member of staff from the University have recently returned from Romania where they spent a total of five weeks making a difference to the lives of orphan children in a small town called Comenesti.

The project has been running for nine years and is organised by a group of students and staff at The Volunteer Centre in the Students' Union.

This project is just one example of the good work delivered by students and staff volunteers as part of the Student Community Action Group.

The folllowing is an account of this summer's Romanian trip by one of the volunteers:

We were staying in a day centre for disabled children, The Robert Cole Centre, and spent our time working in Casa Lumina (an orphanage for disabled people) and Number 9 (a state-run orphanage).

On arrival none of us knew what to expect but we were welcomed into the community by the locals and spent many hours playing with their children and trying to break down the cultural barriers that were in place.

Over the weeks to come we got to know our neighbours, picked up the basic words we needed to communicate with those with whom we were working and slowly got to grips with the currency.

Our trip was staggered over a period of five weeks and those students and staff members that visited Comenesti in the first week spent the majority of their time helping at a holiday camp run by the Robert Cole Centre. Great fun was had by all and the week ran smoothly.

The groups that followed worked in the orphanages running activities such as mask making, rounders, skipping and friendship bracelet plaiting. We did face painting and spent as much quality time with the kids as was possible.

We didn’t have the skills, equipment or permission to teach the children but we gave them what they were most lacking: love and attention.

The orphanages themselves were well maintained but the children were poorly clothed and unhealthy. Many of them suffer from either HIV or Aids which prompted many members of the group to visit the Aids ward at the local hospital – an hour away. Not much can be said about the facilities due to media regulations put in place by the Romania Government but, needless to say, they were rather different to the conditions we have come to take for granted in the UK.

The trip truly was an eye-opener for everyone involved – we all left feeling lucky to have the families, friends and facilities that we do and also with some knowledge of what else needs to be done to help these children on future trips.

The Romanian Orphanage Project is run by SCA (Bath Volunteers) and it will be taking place again next year. Please feel free to drop into the Volunteer Centre at any time if you would like to know more about this project or would like to find out about all the other exciting opportunities offered to you by SCA.

If you would like to see how you can get involved with volunteering in general, please visit our website at www.bathstudent.com/volunteering.

Please note that staff can volunteer as well as students!

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