Hi, I'm Leo D'Aes. I discovered Hospices of Hope through my passion for classic music. Resident in Belgrade, Serbia, as Belgian ambassador (2014-2018), I attended in the spring of 2015 in Town Hall a charity concert for BelHospice, the only non-governmental organisation in Serbia dedicated exclusively to palliative centre for terminal cancer patient. There I met its fundraising officer, and from one came the other: some months later I organised a charity concert in the Belgian residence, I met Graham Perolls, Director of the Hospices of Hope, main sponsor of BelHospice, and we started cooperating.

Graham gently persuaded me to start up and chair an Honorary Patrons Committee that would lend its support to BelHospice in various ways, including contacts with the local authorities and supporting the fundraising efforts. With committed local and foreign business people and diplomatic colleagues on board,  and with Graham’s permanent wise counsel,  we managed to create a momentum of support for the then major objective of BelHospice: establishing a Day Care Center in Belgrade, on the location previously acquired by Hospices of Hope. In a lovely spirit of trust and solidarity between all stakeholders, management and supporters of Belhospice, we succeeded: the Centre was formally opened in October 2018.

The many, very touching testimonies of cancer patients about Belhospice’s care for them and their families, in the Centre and at the families’ home,  illustrate the genuine humanitarian need to which BelHospice is responding. During my stay in Belgrade I witnessed, and where possible supported,  the daily effort of managing this permanent effort, including the quest for funds to keep going this charity, with a solid mix of professionalism and empathy.

 

Special memories

– BelHospice can thrive on the invaluable support of Hospices of Hope, on its good management, its successful fundraising activities, its dedicated staff and, what struck me particularly, its pool of volunteers, always good-humoured and full of dynamism. Taking into account the rather difficult living conditions in Serbia (as compared to, say, UK or Belgium), the daily engagement and commitment of these volunteers in helping to Making Every Day count for these weak, vulnerable and sometimes desperate persons, is awesome and fills me with great admiration.

– The sustained commitment of all BelHospice’s staff and supporters culminates in its yearly Ball in November and is the major fundraising activity. It unites hundreds of partners for “the good cause”,  in a heart-warming atmosphere of solidarity, cameraderie and engagement. Rarely had I  experienced before with such intensity the power of a genuinely-kind  commitment to provide hope, dignity and tangible assistance to those who lack it desperately. Just like the spring-Marathon, the Ball is a touching, noble combination of empathy and joy, that is not evaporated the next day, but rather strengthens the common resolve to continue practicing compassion in very tangible ways.

 

A quote

At fundraising dinner in London on 16 May 2019: “The dynamic kindness in this room is tangible, and energises us all to continue creating and sutaining genuine hope, dignity and comfort for those who lack it desperately”.