Charity of the Month: Children in Distress
“To cure, sometimes; to help, often; to comfort always.”
Children in Distress was set up in the early 1990s in response to the crisis in paediatric care services revealed following the Popular Revolution that swept Romania’s Communist regime from power. The Charity pioneered treatment and care provision for those infants and children who had been infected with the HIV virus and associated life-threatening infections. Children in Distress set up the first paediatric hospice offering respite and palliative and end of life care for children with full-blown AIDS in St Laurence, Cernavoda.
Children in Distress now provides hospice care for children with life-threatening conditions as a result of accident, infection, genetic disorders and birth defects. It pioneers life-changing multiple therapies for those with disabilities and education and welfare for those living with Autistic Spectrum Disorders.
Educational opportunities are offered to children from disadvantaged backgrounds and training is made available to educational, medical, nursing and therapy professionals to develop and improve the quality of opportunity and care available throughout Romania. In addition, a range of medical and social welfare programmes provide advocacy, disability care, food, clothing and educational opportunities to those suffering discrimination and disadvantage.
St Margaret’s Hospice and Children’s Centre in Bucharest was the second hospice that Children in Distress opened: originally a street children’s project it developed into a residential unit for infants and children with short life expectancy as a result of accidental infection or birth, developmental or genetic malformations. The hospice has an enviable reputation for its respite, palliative and end of life care and its paediatric nurses are perhaps the best trained and experienced in Romania. The hospice has twenty beds and has been home to well over two hundred children.
“We need help to raise at least some of the coasts involved.”
But St Margaret’s Hospice is facing a grave threat to its future. A number of major fires in Bucharest has resulted in the Romanian national authorities issuing a completely new set of fire regulations with strict new rules that are being stringently applied. Since early 2015, despite repeated applications for full fire certification and considerable investment in “compliance” upgrades to the Hospice structure and systems, full certification has been deferred. Local Authority licensing depends on this final fire certification and this is now urgently required .The most recent requirement for full certification is to build an underground concrete water tank in the hospice garden (the only available “free” space). This tank must have the capacity to assure a significant water reserve to provide up to three hours’ supply to the Hospice’s sprinkler system, newly installed after the last review visit. This latest demand puts Children in Distress Romania in a very difficult position as this unplanned capital expense, in excess of £20,000 Sterling, was not envisaged when the Hospice’s extremely delicately balanced 2017 budget was calculated and approved.
Paul Kubaszky, Children in Distress Romania’s Deputy President, has appealed to the generous assistance to the charity’s friends and supporters across the UK: “We are faced with a further challenge … which, if unaddressed, will put the very future of St Margaret’s, its children and the life-changing care delivered by the Hospice, at serious risk. Our local team are fundraising like mad locally, however realistically given the timescales and the urgent risk involved, we need help to raise at least some of the coasts involved. Together we have come so far, worked so hard, invested and delivered so much to ensure a better today for the children of St Margaret’s who may have no tomorrow.”
Children in Distress has been described as “one of those wonderful inspirational little charities whose work enthuses donors throughout the United Kingdom and saves and changes the lives of children across the Balkans”. It is a charity that Waltham Abbey Church has supported faithfully almost since its foundation. Please pray this month for Children in Distress’s work with children and young people at St Margaret’s Hospice and give generously so that that they can overcome the challenge they face so that their work will be able to continue.
You can read more about Children in Distress on the display boards around the tower staircase and at www.childrenindistress.org.