Friday was our last day in Romania but that did not mean that we were going to take things easy. In the morning went to a village 30 mins outside Brasov, called Mine Une Mei. The village was once a mining village but the mine has long since closed. In recent years SAR has helped the village and it is now beginning to really prosper. The pupils visited the school in the village while the teachers went to psychiatric hospital, which overlooks the village.
Vulcan is a hospital which caters for 150 patients, male and female. The conditions are grim and the spectrum covered by the patients is vast. Many of the patients in Vulcan have come from Timis, the institution we visited on earlier in the week, which had a major impact on our pupils and staff alike.Some make you question why they are there and others who are so heavily sedated that they were unable to communicate. We are one if the few groups allowed inside the locked gates, which is a privilege and the welcome by many was lovely. Each and every patient received a goody bag. The appreciation shown was wonderful and it was a very humbling experience.
Our next engagement on Friday was to lunch in McDonald's with a few very special guests. Fourteen people from Timis were chosen by the Director to come out for lunch. This is a very special event which only happens when SAR pupils visit in February. For many of our pupils it was the highlight of the week. We were blessed with glorious weather all week and Friday was no exception. The weather meant that we could sing and dance with our friends from Timis. For a couple of hours we almost forgot where they had come from and where they would have to return to. When time was up our lunch guests left, leaving us all feeling rather empty.
In the afternoon the group spilt in two, with half going for a walk around the city, while the other half of the group visited the maternity hospital. The maternity hospital has a special ward which caters for abandoned babies. Our pupils donated nappies and clothes for these very special little babies, all of whom were boys, while we were there. Many of the girls had to have these babies prised out of their arms when the time came to leave.
The group gathered together in the city centre and for the last time Mariann brought us up the mountain. The pupils had been promised a very special treat if they worked hard all week, to go to the Spa. The outside hot tub was a real highlight for all the pupils.
We left The hotel at 2 am to begin our journey back to Ireland after what can only be described as an emotional, rewarding and enjoyable week, for both pupils and staff. The experience will last forever and the impact of our work will hopefully last for a long time too.