In our latest blog, we're going to share a report from our most recent volunteering trip. A group of 16 volunteers and staff headed out to Cernavoda, Romania to work alongside one of our partners, Nightingales Children’s Project. We have worked with Nightingales for ten years, and in that time we have collaborated on many projects.
Nightingales is a small charity that works with vulnerable and disabled adults. They help them to realise their full potential and live a dignified and independent life. Things are rather busy at the centre, as Nightingales is housing 18 Ukrainians who were forced to leave their home due to the war. at their centre, Casa Fericirii (Home of Happiness). They have been able to support over 35 Ukrainian families and individuals with a place to stay since the start of the year. There are also 4 adults with HIV and learning disabilities at Ovaidiu who are supported by Nightingales. They also work with women and men at risk of being trafficked, as well as Roma & Romanian children who are at risk of not staying in school. Nightingales relies heavily on volunteers in order to make their work, work.
Our team of volunteers had a wide range of tasks set out to keep them busy during the two-week trip. These included helping build a wall which will make up an integral part of the summer camp near the Danube River. This camp will be used for children who are unable to leave Romania during holiday time, giving them time away from home where they can do really valuable outdoor learning. The team also helped to clean and clear premises which are being renovated in order to make accommodation for volunteers visiting and working with Nightingales. In the afternoons, they spent time working with young Romanian, Ukrainian and Roma children who attend the homework clubs, run by Ben and Luiza. Last (but certainly not least!) they helped support the adults with learning disabilities and HIV by taking them out on fun experiences, like for coffee, to bowling which enriched their lives immeasurably (as you can see by the pictures!)
The trip was between the 11th and 21st of October 2022, and on this trip, we decided to create a special challenge for our volunteers - something we’ve never done before. We sent the volunteers over to Romania by train. Each team were asked to use a wheelchair for the duration of the trip. This was to allow them to experience the everyday challenges a wheelchair user could face on a long journey across multiple countries. The volunteers video journaled their experience, giving us an incredibly valuable perspective on the daily reality of living with a disability. Germany seemed to be the winning country in terms of accessibility and good customer service. Teams got upgraded to business class on the Eurostar, with a Michelin star meal! However, they all found difficulties along the way, and these will be discussed further in our volunteer reflection blogs.
The journey gave volunteers an opportunity to see loads of different countries along the way – including Germany, Paris, Vienna and Hungary.
The team knowing their individual strengths was very important for this trip, as there were so many projects, they could be involved in. There was so much growth in the team and everyone had good days alongside more challenging ones. We will continue their stories soon in our next blog.
Until then – la revedere (goodbye!) and mulțumesc (thank you!) for reading!