Our Neighbours in Romania – 27 February 2018

In August last year, Doug Wilson, in his capacity as officer (Lt.) in the 17th Ayr Boys’ Brigade company (Castlehill), was presented with a £200 cheque from the Treasure Chest fund. The money had assisted travel to Romania where representatives of the Brigade carried out work at an orphanage run by the Rhema Foundation. Last week, Doug welcomed to the club Ian Queen (Brigade Captain) and Gavin Drysdale (Brigade member) who had both been on the 2017 trip and had come to tell us about the experience.

Ian began by describing to us the political circumstances in the 1980s under the severely authoritarian government of Nicolae Ceaușescu which had been responsible for severe repression, ethnic discrimination, and human rights abuses within the country. Conditions in the country’s orphanages (which contained a high proportion of Roma, or gypsy, children) had deteriorated very badly under an imposed, economic austerity programme. Ian described the unpleasantness of these conditions which he had encountered in his first trip to one such orphanage.

Castlehill church, Mary’s Meals, and the BB had successfully raised money for the Rhema Foundation which had directed much of this towards finding the parents of orphans. On their first visit the BB had provided practical help which included building a ‘house’ which in effect was ‘no more than four walls’. Their second trip in 2017, however, involved more social activities and the team were welcomed because it was their ‘presence that mattered’ and they were the only group who had committed to returning again.

Gavin completed the talk by describing the hugely rewarding experience for all the boys and his own individual experience as ‘something special’. He said he would not hesitate to go back again.

Doug thanked Ian and Gavin for their joint presentation and wished them well in the continuation of a project in which they were clearly committed.