Cornelia is 7 years old, and suffers from cerebral palsy.

She lives in very poor conditions, along with her mother, grandmother and 5 other brothers and sisters. She is very affectionate, she likes to hold hands, and she enjoys playing with small figurines.

Whilst on a visit to Brasov, two of our UK team visited Cornelia at home. Below is their experience.

Whilst in Brasov, Romania, Jay and I (John) were fortunate enough to go on a home visit and meet Cornelia and her family. Cornelia is a 7 year old girl who has a giant hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain). She suffers from paraparesis, has some brain damage, and is cared for by the staff at the Brasov Hospice. We were taken by a social worker, Gabi, who herself was a beneficiary of Hospice Casa Sperantei when her mother, aunt and grandfather passed away. Their home was quite far away from the Hospice centre and very far from any shops/built up areas. Gabi had given us a brief description of the family situation – a single mother with 6 children (three boys and three girls including Cornelia) and she had explained that they lived in very poor conditions.

I was shocked when we pulled up to the house – their house was in the middle of nowhere in what felt like a building site. The house was very poor and had no door but instead just a curtain. A young boy and girl who were very excited to see visitors greeted us and as we entered the house Cornelia, who was sat on the sofa with her eldest sister, let out a loud shout of excitement, smiled, and reached out to take our hands. Gabi explained to us that Cornelia loved seeing new people and Cornelia laughed with excitement as Gabi took her hand and said hello. The house itself was very poor – it was tidy but run down with the majority of the little furniture they had falling apart or broken. The house consisted of two small rooms with uneven floors, which both the children and I tripped over on very easily. They had no running water and flies were everywhere. They had one sofa bed in the second room which all of them would sleep on in the evening. Gabi and Cornelia’s mother spoke for around 20 minutes and Gabi held both Cornelia and the mother’s hand as she explained the difficulties they were facing.

Gabi provided the family with some more clothes, some toys and a food parcel. Jay helped the children put together a toy cradle for them to play with and Cornelia enjoyed pulling pieces of cardboard from the packaging, giggling at every piece she tore off. Cornelia sat with Gabi and had a smile on her face the whole time – she would not let go of her hand and held on tightly even when Gabi went to reach for her bag.

As we left, Cornelia was very upset and Gabi explained to Jay and I how hard it felt to leave them. As we got back into the car, Jay and I were speechless. Gabi asked us if we had any questions but both of us could not even think of what to say. Gabi explained that she often goes home very upset and sometimes struggles to do what she does. I was in awe of Gabi and her passion and dedication. To deal with these situations every day would be incredibly draining and I had a lot of respect for her and her ability to keep going. She told me that every day she says to herself “what more can I do for these families” and this is what keeps her going through the home visits.

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