From Rathfriland to Romania with love

A team of almost 30 people from churches in the Rathfriland area will travel to Romania on July 13 on a trip that will make a difference to the lives of some of the most deprived children there.

To that end, the group has been working hard to organise a number of fundraising events over the next few months and would love to see them well supported.

Working with Project Romania in an area called Sighisoara, the team will be involved in children’s camps, feeding programs, building work, helping at the local hospital, clothes distribution and other work for 10 days. It is the third time teams from Rathfriland have gone out.

Heading up the team, Rev Seamus Burke of 2nd and 3rd Rathfriland Presbyterian Church, spoke of how much their work means to the children and families there.

“At the children’s camps we will be working with some of the most deprived children in all of Romania, who live in very squalid surroundings.

“For these children the highlight of their year is coming to a children’s camp where they will be told bible stories and have an opportunity to play on things such as trampolines and make bracelets and jewellery with beads. They will get a set of clothes and a tube of toothpaste and for some of them it is like three or four Christmases coming at once.

“The team will experience some language barriers, however there will also be a translator working with us.”

The Rev Burke spoke of their plans to provide food for children in a near-by area, where in previous years they discovered many of the mothers are scarcely more than children themselves.

“Once or twice a week we will make up pasta and sausages in huge saucepans which we then divide into small yoghurt pots,” he said. “We will drive to Selaluce and as soon as our van arrives 50 or 60 children, accompanied by parents, will flock out to the van.

“The children usually have their mothers with them, but in Romania the mothers are very young - some as young as 13, and they will queue behind the van where our team will hand a pot of pasta to each child.

“We are also involved in building homes and this allows us to move people from squalor to a good home. Our teams face hard work in high temperatures - sometimes 30 or 40 degrees.

“From previous experience those who have been on the mission can say that it will be an intense, but extremely rewarding time.”

Rev Burke became involved in the work after his own daughter Grace had gone on a team. He said the team this year which is comprised of people from 17 years of age through to post-retirement will make a terrific contribution.

“We would appreciate your support at the coffee morning in Loughbrickland Presbyterian Church hall on Saturday, April 16 from 10am-1pm, Treasure Hunt and mini BBQ starting from 7pm on Saturday, May 21 at 3rd Rathfriland Presbyterian Church hall, Tractor Run on Friday, April 29, starting from Rathfriland Co-op,” he added.

A sponsored walk on May 21 and a sponsored Donard Climb on June 18 have also been organised to raise funds.