Giving Help To Improve Children’s Lives Helping Hand Appeal 2018
Sally Rodger looks back at My Weekly’s work in Romania and finds out how things have changed thanks to our projects
One of the first institutions we visited in Romania was the residential school for visually impaired children in Cluj, in the northern part of the country.
Many of the children had been abandoned or orphaned, and there wasn’t a dry eye among the team as we watched the children open their surprise boxes, carefully feeling, smelling and in some cases, tasting each item they found. The joy on their faces really brought a lump to our throats.
And it was while we were there that we discovered that the boiler had broken down and for nearly two years the children had been showering in ice-cold water. So this became the first project the Helping Hand Appeal undertook.
We bought a new boiler and revamped the shower area, with a damp proof course, new floor and new tiling and finished off with colourful shower curtains. Can you imagine how a nice hot shower must have felt after two years of freezing cold ones?
In the years that followed, when we made regular trips to Romania, we continued to visit here, and were always met with a rapturous reception by the children and staff. They would put on a little party, and would sing for us.
We were later able to give further financial aid to repair and extend the heating and refurbish the gym, and we also purchased some Braille typewriters.
INTEGRATION THROUGH SPORT
The work My Weekly did to renovate the Blind School in Cluj to give the children a much better standard of living conditions created a domino effect in all school areas, and the school has been subject to a major renovation over the last few years.
Nowadays, the school is home to children with a wide range of disabilities, which reflects the worldwide success in eliminating many eye problems with ground-breaking surgical procedures.
Sport has always been an integration tool for visually impaired children and the Lamont Sports Club now have junior and senior goalball teams all recruited from pupils (both past and present) from the school.
Goalball is a team sport designed specifically for athletes with visual impairment. The ball has a bell inside it and players must use the sound of the bell to judge the position and movement of the ball.
Last year, the junior team won the Romanian national championships and at the European Youth Paralympic Games, they took the bronze medal. They also won the Fair Play award. What an achievement that was!
This year they are playing in international competitions in Spain, the Netherlands and Greece. Let’s wish them great success!
“While there, we discovered the boiler had broken two years ago”
YYour shoeboxeshb bbroughtght jjoy tto many ddisadvantaged corners of Romania