Annual Report 2016

In 2016 our work in Romania continued its support for two programmes.

Programme One
Father Simeon’s Project

The social centre building at St Nicholas Orthodox Church is now more or less completed. The bedrooms upstairs are fitted out and so is the sitting room on the first floor. The only element missing is a lift to enable any resident to get
up and down to the ground floor. The classrooms downstairs have been functioning for several years now and well used by up to 30 children during the term time as an after school facility. There is a big community dining room and the children are fed lunch when they come from their school and are then taught and helped with home
work until their parents collect them. Most of the children are referred to the Centre by social services but some of them are self funding which helps the project to be sustainable. There are rooms to accommodate 16 older people on the first floor of the building once the lift has been installed. Father Simeon retired from the Church in June but continues as a Director of the Association Saint Nicholas. Jane and Jean were able to attend the official opening of the whole complex in May.

SHARE donated £500 to the work of Father Simeon’s centre in 2016. We have donated £12,700 to this project since we began support in 2012.

The Orthodox Metropolitan Bishop blessing the Centre. Three to Four hundred local people packed into the church courtyard and we were all grateful that the weather stayed fine. It was a lovely day.

Programme Two
The Bianca Project

In 2016 SHARE has continued with its support of the Bianca Project and sponsored 14 Occupational Therapists and Speech and Language Therapists to spend a four week period July and August working in Sibiu at the Speranta Centre for children with complex health needs and learning disabilities. This year we had 10 previous therapy volunteers who provided valuable support and supervision to the newly qualified therapists. The number of children at the Centre is declining – we are not sure why but know that many of the original children, like Bianca have been moved to an
adult institution when they reach the age of 18. The new children in the Centre are those who have been abandoned by their parents because of their disability. Some of the conditions are very minor such as cerebral palsy or Downs Syndrome but some of the children have severe and life threatening conditions.

While the therapists are at the centre they are able to spend valuable time with each individual child, allowing the children to use the sensory room on site and teaching them basic skills designed to improve their independence. Our project is supported by Coventry, Birmingham and Cardiff Universities where the therapists attended for their degree courses. This programme has two major benefits. It provides wonderful experiences for the Romanian children, and has shown itself to be a lifechanging experience for the volunteers.

Some quotes:
…”the therapeutic input is priceless, but I believe that the love, happiness, cuddles and laughter that those amazing children experienced from us was just as important”

“As soon as I returned from Romania, I have wanted to go back.”

…”I feel so fortunate to have had this opportunity to go and work at the centre ……I am so grateful to the Share charity for all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes that makes this experience possible”

…“being part of the Bianca Project 2016 has been such an amazing experience. I really can’t put it into words how beneficial this experience has been for me”

Describing one of the children the volunteer had initially struggled to relate to
…“I will never forget the time we shared together”

…”the extra experiences such as the Roma Camp and Dacia project were the highlight of the trip for me and felt that these experiences really opened my eyes to life in Romania outside the bubble of the Centre and Sibiu”

At Easter this year the Director that we had been working with for three years died suddenly from a heart attack. It was a great shock to us all and we did have concerns that it might be difficult to work there this year. As it happened the person that took over on a temporary basis was happy for us to return and proved to be very appreciative of the project. Unfortunately we did not have a consistent presence at the Centre of a Romanian who spoke English. There were two Romanian volunteers but both of them had to work in their own jobs too which made it very difficult. We
know that having someone to interpret and negotiate with the Centre staff, especially the carers is really important and will have to think seriously how to manage this next year. It maybe that we will have to factor an additional cost into the project in order for us to have formal interpretation.

The therapists contributed £500.00 each towards their costs this year. Share has donated £43,673 to the Bianca Project since we began this programme in 2010.

An update on two other projects:
The project in Dacia is supported by a German Charity linked to the Dresden Cross of Nails. There is a Cross of Nails from Coventry Cathedral in the retreat house in Dacia where the project is based. Several years ago the Romanian Government closed a number of village schools and reduced the teaching staff by some 20,000. This had a huge
impact on the very poor villages because although there were some primary schools retained – older children had to find transport to the nearest towns often five or so miles away.

The project in Dacia became one of the programmes Share supported because of it’s link with improving education chances for children. There is a small classroom in one of the houses in the village plus a large garden. Children go there each day during school term to have additional tuition and in some cases the only tuition that is available to them. The funding we have provided in the past has helped towards the cost of lunch that is given to whoever attends each day. A German charity funds the entire programme at the moment which includes the salary of a Montessori teacher, the upkeep of the house and gardens and the cost of food.

Martin and Jane Williams were able to visit Dacia in July with the first group of therapy volunteers. Frank Roth from Dresden arranged for the group to meet with the teacher and some of the children on the Sunday morning. We were all very impressed with what we saw and heard. The second group of volunteers were also able to visit Dacia. This is an experience in itself. It is hard to believe the level of poverty in the country if you are just visiting the tourist towns and cities but Dacia has no mains water or sewerage, the houses of the Roma families are in very poor state. Many will have holes in the roofs and no easy access to water which has to be fetched from the well on the outskirts of the village.
Since 2010 we have donated £13,500 to the work in Dacia.

Some of the children who attend the school in Dacia came to meet the volunteers and we had fun and games.

Ora et Labora / Work and Prayer

This programme is run by a group of Romanians who are linked to the Lutheran Ecumenical Centre in Sibiu. e Cross was presented to Dr Stefan Tobler, for his Centre for Ecumenical Research.  This was because of his reconciling outlook, of bringing together scholars of all denominations to study each other’s theology, and to build mutual respect. The Litany of Reconciliation is said every Friday in the afternoon and attended by a number of local people. Next year in July the Eastern European CCN Board Meeting is being held in Sibiu. Currently Erika is leading on the Refugee Programme for the Lutheran Church in Romania.

Pavel Stinghe, Erika Klemm, Jane Williams and Monica Stinghe in St John’s Lutheran Church in Sibiu where the Cross of Nails is situated.