“Teams from South Kent Community Church have been going to Romania since 1990. In 1996 Graham Perolls heard a team would be visiting Brasov and asked if we could help dig out the foundations of the new Hospice Study Centre. Our connection with Hospice Casa
Sperantei had begun.

In March 1998 my friend Barbara and I travelled to Brasov to spend time with a hospice nurse we had befriended. On some home visits we saw the terrible poverty patients were experiencing and were moved to find some way of helping just a little to show them they were not forgotten.

That autumn we asked church members to donate shoe boxes filled with basic groceries to be transported overland to Brasov. Romania was not part of the EU then, so everything had to be carefully listed and packed for checking at the border.

Barbara and I flew to Brasov in time to distribute the boxes. This had to be done quickly as the Hospice only worked out of a couple of rooms in Poarta Schei.

This was so successful that it was repeated in 1999. However, as everything could now be obtained in Romania, we changed our plans in 2000 and had a special collection at church instead so items could be bought locally. Two of us travelled to Brasov and, with the help of Malina Dumitrescu, created a shopping list and purchased goods in a cash and carry. Everything was transported to the Study Centre where we bagged and then distributed it to patients in their homes. As goods were so much cheaper, each recipient was given a large carrier bag rather than a small shoe box.

This has happened every year since then. To our amazement, the offering has increased along with the number of patients receiving bags – from 45 in 2000 to 304 in 2014! In addition to the bags, we also buy and wrap a gift for each child/teenager connected to Casa Sperantei. Last year our team of four ladies wrapped 346 presents which were distributed at the Hospice Christmas party.

It has been such a privilege to work with Hospice Casa Sperantei over the last 19 years and bring a little bit of joy to those struggling in such terrible conditions. I pray that, with God’s provision, we will be able to continue to do in the years ahead.”

Julie Oliver
South Kent Community Church