Hi, I'm Levin Smith.

It’s quite hard to describe myself in a concise way. On one hand I was a mischievous teenager who liked a challenge, but on the other hand, I’m one half of an infamous duo (Dylan and Levin), that melted the hearts and inspired the minds of almost everyone at Hospice Casa Sperantei.

It all started in the autumn of 2016 when (one of the now trustees) Marilyn Boggust approached our youth group with an offer to go abroad to help with a charity. At first, I was quite sceptical of the offer as I thought it’d be another thing that everyone does to better his or her CV. However, over the course of two summer camps and a four month long expedition, I realised that I was sorely mistaken.

The first summer camp that I attended made me realise how intelligent these beneficiaries are! Where most of the English volunteers were struggling to muster a simple Romanian greeting, the children were telling us stories of their hobbies, home-life and school-life. I will never forget the Fortnite stories and dances that David and Stefan insisted on showcasing. Nor the strange attachment that Erika and Dylan shared, that was brought to light at one of the evening parties where they were caught dancing together. This summer camp gave us all an insight into what life was like in a different country and how some of our first world problems aren’t even rational in grand scheme of things.

The second summer camp in 2018 can be summed up in one word, “Whirlpool”.

From the awful puns and questionable humour to the relentless, circular current created against the wishes of a boy called Stefan, we had it all! I will never forget how Martin almost caused a number of leg injuries to those children in a bid to beat me in a race, which to this day he still claims he won. At the end of this camp, Dylan and I felt that the experience was short lived, so in the autumn of 2018 we arranged to go out to Romania on a 4-month placement as part of our gap years.

Now I understand how cliché it is for someone to go somewhere that’s out of their scope and for them to say that it was life-changing. However, when I say that this 4-month stint in 2019 gave us a completely different outlook on life as well as our reputations among the Hospice staff both at home and abroad, I’m not exaggerating! We took part in everything that the charity put on and got well acquainted with some volunteers and hospice staff along the way.  I owe a lot of my life decisions and relationships to HoH, as without them, I wouldn’t have met some of the angels that I still hold dear.

The memory that I hold close to my heart involves a lad called Danny. We were saying our goodbyes to the HoH staff in Romania and I was trying to hold it together. All of a sudden, I get handed a phone and one of the children who we’d grown so close to called Danny was on the other end. He’d learned a paragraph in English to say to us while crying down the phone and it broke me. To this day I cherish every moment of that call!

“The work of HoH is unparalleled and that will always ring true. So give yourselves some credit for the imperative work that you do.”