Bucharest Half Marathon Heroines (and Hero)

Every year some 700 runners take part in the Bucharest Half Marathon to raise funds for Hospice Casa Sperantei.

This year the runners included twenty-five brave ladies cared for by Hospice Casa Sperantei. They have all suffered the physical and emotional stresses of cancer but were still determined to take part in the event.

Just to get there was an endurance test for Maria. She arrived four hours before the start of the race because there was only one bus that could get her to Bucharest from her home and it was a very long, slow journey. Elena is in her eighties, but she managed to attend as she wanted to support the friends she had made at the Hospice. Two runners were still hospitalised but were allowed to run as a nurse accompanied them and Lily ran 3kms in flip flops and was one of the first to reach the finish line.

Another participant was paediatric patient, Ana Maria (pictured). Ana Maria lives with cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair. She has a very poor memory but she can remember the race very clearly.

Ana Maria’s friend, also called Ana, put together a relay team to push Ana Maria around the half marathon course. Another member of the of the team was volunteer Violeta who does so much to help Hospice Casa Sperantei despite the fact that she herself had cancer and was diagnosed at a relatively early age. Lucian also took part in the relay. He lives a long way from Bucharest but regularly travels to take part in events to raise money for the hospice.

The event raised funds to pay for patient transport, almost a year’s care for a patient, 390 home visits and 1,000 day centre sessions.

At the finish line Ana Maria shouted with all her might out “I am so happy!”

Ana Maria and her team in the Bucharest Half Marathon  

Other Romanian Stories 

Impact of Salary Increases

In February this year the Romanian government announced that the salaries of doctors and other medical professionals would be increased by at least 70% with effect from the 1st March.  Depending on specialty residency doctors will receive increases between 151% to 287%.

Whilst this affects state employees, Hospice Casa Sperantei has had to respond to this change to be fair to its staff. No warning was given to allow the charity to plan for this eventuality and the budget had to be reviewed and cuts made.

How this affect our work

Sadly, one casualty of the state’s decision is the reduction of the Bucharest home care team from eight to just one doctor and two nurses. This team of just three people will have to cover the whole of the capital. Nurses make up to four home visits a day so this cut is a reduction of some 100 home visits a week. The state will not take these visits over – it is very rare for a state doctor or nurse to make home visits and our patients are often too sick or too poor to travel to clinics. We were also hoping to start a paediatric home care service in Bucharest but that has had to be deferred.

Hospice Casa Sperantei, Bucharest

Thank you to Nelu - our first employee

Hospice Casa Sperantei’s first ever employee, Nelu, (Ionel Chiriac) has retired at the age of 67 after working for the organisation for more than twenty five years.

Nelu with Graham at Copaceni

During that time he has seen so many changes. When Graham asked him if he would be interested in working for the charity Nelu had never heard of hospice care but willingly gave up his job as a helicopter technician to become involved with this pioneering project.

His first job was to assist nurse Sylvia Jarrett who had gone to Brasov to train the first Romanian nurse in palliative care techniques. He drove her around the city and occasionally helped her. He recalls how one day, at a patient’s home, Sylvia said to him, "Nelu, don’t be scared, but I believe in ten minutes he will be gone".

Nelu remembered the early years when the charity’s office was one of the two rooms in an apartment rented by Sylvia and her husband. The country did not understand the concept of charitable organisations and staff were regarded with suspicion. Very tight state controls on palliative care drugs meant that the help that could be offered was limited.

Nelu first met Graham because Nelu’s son Dragos was suffering from congenital lymphedema and Graham brought Dragos over to the UK for tests. Sadly in his twenties Dragos developed cancer and died in Tunbridge Wells aged just 27.

When Dragos died, Nelu’s first reaction was to stop working for the hospice but although he left Brasov he helped out at Copaceni. He recognises that he will miss the routine and his colleagues and comments

“In 25 years of working here, I think I have done thousands of overtime hours. It never crossed my mind that I should ask for more money. I did it to get the job done. In the end somebody needed me to stay overtime and that somebody was always the patient.”

Summer Trips 

Our annual summer trips are taking place at the moment. Each year we hold five summer trips, one at Hospice Casa Sperantei in Brasov, one at a Black Sea resort and the other three at Copaceni. The trips are for the benefit of some of our paediatric patients, children who have relatives cared for by Hospice Casa Sperantei or who have recently suffered bereavement.

For more information about our trips see our website.   

If you would be interested in volunteering at one of next year’s summer trips please contact Anna Perolls

Our summer trips brochure for 2019 will be published in autumn.

Craft activities at the Bucharest Summer Camp 2017

US Palliative Care Specialist visits Hospice Casa Sperantei in Romania

Liviu with Graham, Alex and Dana at Copaceni  

Dr Liviu Chindris recently visited our hospice in Bucharest and our children’s respite and therapy centre at Copaceni.

Liviu was born in Romania and went to medical school there. In 1983 he escaped the communist regime and headed to the US as a political refugee. He passed his equivalency exams, went for residency training in New York, then settled in Los Angeles and joined a large medical group in southern California, where he spent the following 23 years. He now works for the largest hospice agency in the States.

Liviu met Alex some time ago in Los Angeles and showed him some of the work he was then involved with. They kept in touch and Liviu decided to see our work in Romania for himself.

Alex and Hospices of Hope founder, Graham Perolls, took Liviu and Dana Moldovan (who is from Rotary Club and a long-term supporter from LA) around Copaceni. They also had the chance to visit the hospice in Bucharest.


Following his visit, Liviu said

“Almost everything I saw impressed me. Beginning with the will or the desire to provide such a badly needed service, the hard work that went into involving the local government agencies and finally the quality of work and services and level of facilities that [Hospice] has managed to put together.

I truly believe that Hospice Casa Spreantei is doing a fantastic job, given the challenging environment of a developing economy, especially with the ravages left by the decades of communist regime.”

Asked about the future Liviu felt that the greatest issue facing the organisation was the need for help and co-operation from local and government authorities. He felt that without this it would be difficult for us to continue to provide services at the same level and quality as we do now.

This is an issue we are aware of and our National Development Centre in Romania works hard to nurture such co-operation. But it is an ongoing challenge that takes up a considerable amount of resource.


The building works are complete and the official opening of our new children's respite and therapy centre is taking place on Friday 21st September. 

Our website has a short video showing the refurbishment. 

House Warming Appeal 

Thank you to everyone who has donated to our House Warming Appeal. 

The appeal to furnish and equip our children’s respite and therapy centre has reached more than half of its
target and has allowed us to buy many of the items required.

We still need some medical supplies and we would really welcome donations through the appeal to cover the cost of these. To donate click here