“On the first floor of the hospice is a corridor with rooms on either side. At the very end of this corridor is a room. It is painted green, mint green to be precise. Julie and I helped to paint it. On the morning of our arrival, Ron took us on a tour of the building. He referred to this room, then unpainted, just a shell, as the ‘terminal room’.
Our visit to Casa Rachel, the house of Rachel, had been arranged by Ron. The children met us excitedly, immediately holding hands with us, laughing and shouting. Beautiful children, with bright eyes, full of mischief. All have been diagnosed H.I.V. positive.
When we entered the house, which is home to ten children, we were met by one of the house mothers, who had her arm around a little girl, whom she introduced to us as Danielle. She told us that Danielle was very poorly and maybe only had three or four months left. Danielle’s dream was to own a Walkman. Needless to say, we bought her a Walkman and some tapes to go with it.
We were shown round the house. I peeped under beds and very soon found a Christmas Child shoe box, still wrapped in Christmas paper. Every room was bright and cheerful. The children, ages ranging from around four to fourteen, were happy to show us around their rooms and pointed out pictures on the walls that they had drawn. We sang with them, and they sang to us, having learnt some verses in English, much to our delight. Outside a football was being knocked about. It all seemed like a very happy family. The children are all orphans, adopted by the Trust. They don’t know that they are all ill. They’re only told when it is necessary. They took great delight in Vic’s lap top computer, on which he was able to show them pictures of themselves, and in Colin’s digital camera.
The house, by necessity, is run in a very organised way. The daily routine is strictly kept. I saw a shopping list in the kitchen, each item had the weight required written next to it. We were all very quiet on the mini-bus during the return to our hotel, each of us lost in our own thoughts.
On our way home, just before leaving Constanta, Ron took us to a hostel for street children. The Romanian government can only pay less than one dollar per child per day. The staff were cooking a pot of potatoes and a pot of rice for lunch, with just a little meat. The women caring for these children are paid very little. They are Christians and do it out of love. It shows.
Ron’s work will go on. As life expectancy for these children increases, his vision is to provide training for them, so he will need equipment and teachers. He is also planning to build a mortuary and chapel of rest in the grounds of the hospice.
The tool boxes had been left at the hospice to be picked up at the beginning of our journey home. I realised that I hadn’t been upstairs for a day or two to see how the work had progressed. I walked along the corridor back to the green room. It now had a second coat of paint. It had a door, a sink and a radiator. I stood for a moment or two in that room and prayed for God’s special blessing. I wondered if maybe Danielle would be its first occupant. Beautiful, bright eyed Danielle, aged just ten.”
Rose O’Brien June 2001 (Sadly Danielle died in December 2001)