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

My Weekly - - Contents -

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

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