Siret, in Romania, is the Douzelage partner town of Sherborne in and 1990 it had a very large orphanage which featured in the “Challenge Anneke” series. The orphanage had hundreds of children in it and conditions were appalling, but whilst time has moved on and a lot of good work has been done, Siret is left with an old psychiatric hospital with 120 patients, formerly residents of the orphanage. Considerable effort has been put into the care and rehabilitation of these “young people” but it is a struggle that the town and the director of its hospital Tiberiu Rotaru are continuously working to improve.
At the Douzelage annual meeting in 2012 a collection was made which provided funds to allow them to refurbish and equip a facility to create the “Douzelage Club”, which acts like the Zest Café in Sherborne. It provides an opportunity for patients to serve in the café and get real life experiences, as well as acting as a drop in centre and internet café for teenagers in the evening.
In summer 2012 Sherborne residents collected 2 cu m. of clothing that was transported to Siret for the needy during winter time. This was kindly delivered to them by Nigel spring of the EuCan organisation.
In February 2013 Kevin Waterfall and Lin Ashby visited Siret to talk about future Douzelage projects in the town and to present them with £2,000 to help the hospital and young volunteers.
At this time it was seen that two brand new 60 bed units had been completed for the psychiatric patients, except that due to various bureaucratic matters there were no funds available to install heating and hot water systems in them. This farcical situation prevented the patients from moving into modern facilities and it was determined to try to help resolve this matter. The Siret hospital and town council worked on all the avenues possible but it seemed to need a little extra push.
In April Douzelage had an exhibition in The European Parliament building, which provided an opportunity to engage with several MEP’s and people working in Brussels. Mike Balfour and Kevin Waterfall from Sherborne met with several people there and in particular a discussion with our local MEP Sir Graham Watson and Romanian MEP Norica Nicolai proved very fruitful. With their support and some follow-up activities it has been possible to secure 100,000 Euro from the Romanian Ministry of Health to install heating systems in the two new units, which should be completed for this winter.
When the Douzelage is able to make a difference like this to improve people’s lives then it makes it all worthwhile says Kevin. We bring lots of opportunities to people in the Sherborne area and it is good to see that we can extent our influence to also bring benefit to others further afield.
Anyone who is interested in finding opportunities for their club, school or organisation to make links across Europe and give people that added dimension should check out www.douzelage.org or contact Kevin Waterfall on 07825 152251 or [email protected]