The Bianca Project
The Bianca Project is named after a child that Share supported from the day she was born in the local maternity unit in Sibiu. Bianca had multiple and complex health needs. In 2008 Bianca, who had lived with her parents up until that time, was removed by the Child Protection Department and placed in a Centre for Children with complex needs – Speranta which is government funded. The other children living in the Centre are also severely disabled, some who had been transferred from orphanages in preparation for entering the EU and others like Bianca who are taken away from their parents to safeguard them or are so severely disabled that their parents can not look after them.
The project began with a relationship between the Director of the Centre at that time – Andreea Schuster and one of the Trustees of SHARE – Jane Williams. Together they had the vision of providing support from newly qualified Occupational Therapists from England during the summer vacation before they started in jobs in the UK. The first year 7 volunteers spent 7 weeks over the summer in the Centre. It was so successful that it has been repeated now for the last ten years. For the past seven years the volunteers have also included Speech and Language Therapists. SHARE supports the project financially and in organising the flights and accommodation etc. The volunteers fund some of the cost themselves. Volunteers from previous years give up their annual leave and some take leave without pay in order to return and pay for their own flights. A number of the Share Trustees who have been involved with this project for many years go each year to act as supervisors for the new volunteers.
The older children at the Centre are faced with moving to an adult centre when they become eighteen (unless they are still attending school). At age 20 however they must leave and join hundreds of people with severe learning difficulties in one of the three adult centres in the area. The centre we know more about is home to 150 people aged between 18 and 64. From there they go on to a centre for the elderly. The Romanian Government is trying to improve the conditions in these centres but for our volunteers who have watched these young people grow up in a children centre it is difficult to imagine them moving away to this very different environment.
With this in mind and thanks to a generous legacy from a supportive past donor we have linked up with another charity called Love Light Romania and created Jim’s house.