1994 Visit Reports
This year, three teams made up the summer visits, and one the Autumn trip, but no Spring survey was performed as it was decided better use could be made of the funds on visits. In hindsight, this proved to be a mistake. The first and third teams consisted of 8 and 9 people respectively, and the second team of two, who were driving the van across to Romania. There was the usual mix of trade professionals and willing amateurs.
One week prior to departure, our last efforts to raise funds. North Nibley was not sure what was happening as team members pulled the van around the streets, to encouraging calls of "can't you get it started". Nevertheless the money in the buckets was appreciated. Although the van had been carefully prepared over previous months, during the 'pull' it started blowing smoke from the exhaust. Replacement second-hand engines were then sourced from around the country for repairs, but the engine proved so 'unique' even Fiat in Italy were unable to help. With the first team flying out, and now on their second day in Romania, the van eventually departed with limited final tuning and checks, and the ominous shaking of heads from the garage mechanics.
The first team, now in Brasov, were struggling as they had no supplies or materials. Worse was to come though. On the Germany/Austria border, the van was 'weigh-bridged', declared overweight, and refused entry into Austria. An urgent search started for somewhere to deposit some of the load. A kind builders merchant was found, who not only took on the materials, but agreed to store them for the return journey. So finally, over a week late, the van arrived in Mina so that work could commence.
The team was resident at the hospital in the patients visitors accommodation completed last year. Despite the early frustrations, much was still achieved.
The largest part of the builders workload was to create a therapy unit for the patients. The single storey building had basic structural work, solid floors laid, walls plastered and underfloor drains laid. The team then installed hot and cold water systems, toilets, basins and performed much needed electrical work. Workbenches were built and the Occupational Therapy unit started to take shape, with art, sewing and knitting the first sessions to take place.
A lot of work was done with the village and children. A 'holiday club' was in place while we were present. The school now has a better stock of materials, and astoundingly, an imaginative entrepreneur had built a concrete swimming pool fed from the stream running through the village to replace the previous 'puddle'. Links and friendships increased in the village, and were are much more readily accepted and trusted in the community.
Medicines - The system and procedures have now been established with ECHO to supply all the medicine needs of the Vulcan hospital on a regular and on-going basis.
Dental care - This is proving more difficult as local dentists are not prepared to commit to long term work. The team, when present, can accompany patients to surgery in a nearby town for urgent work. The problem is further exacerbated by the lack of materials such as false teeth and fillings.
After the particulary frustrating summer visit, the Autumn visit went without a hitch. A further van load of supplies was transported to the hospital and school, much of this donated by local UK schools. The three drivers, as well as delivering the aid, completed some of the outstanding work on the therapy unit.