Restaurants Help Romanian Orphans
After the execution in 1989 of the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu and the corresponding fall of the communist government, the world’s press got its first look at the horrendous conditions that Romanian orphans had been living in. Lack of basic care and attention left many of the children despondent, uncommunicative and emotionally crippled. In a lot of cases they did not have enough to eat or drink, were victims of physical and sexual abuse and lived like caged animals.
The Epiphany Trust is a charity that was founded in response to the Romanian orphan crisis which horrified the world when the first media reports started coming out of the country in 1990. Their work started with children from the Lugoj orphanage in Western Romania where, at the time, some 450 orphans were being supervised by only 28 adults. Children at the orphanage, which was typical of so many in Romania, lived in squalor. Two or three children would share a single cot, sometimes tied down so that they could not escape. With nothing to stimulate them, their intellectual and emotional growth was stunted and many had developed severe psychological problems. Bill Hampson, director of The Epiphany Trust, described their situation as, ‘a total violation of human rights by anybody’s standards.’
The Trust first worked with the orphanage to support the staff and build new facilities to enable proper care of the children. Soon, however, they realised that there was an important area of need for the post-18 age group. After leaving the orphanages, many of these young people found themselves with no choice but to live on the streets. The devastating effects of growing up in utterly inhumane state-run facilities had left them totally incapable of relating to people or holding a job and had forced them to resort to begging or crime.
The Epiphany Trust now has one halfway house known as the ‘Arc’ specifically designed to bridge the gap between institutionalised care and normal life in society. They are also working on building and equipping a second. For years the children have been neglected and have not been taught to do even the simplest of tasks like washing or feeding themselves. The Trust’s centres provide a supportive environment where young adult orphans can learn basic life skills that will give them much greater opportunities when they leave. So much more than this though, they offer the love and care that the state institutions never did. For the first time in the lives of many such teenagers, they are valued as individuals.
When the restaurant chain ASK offered a large amount of used kitchenware on the Global Hand website, the Epiphany Trust were one of the charities to partner with them. Due to refurbishment of their stores, ASK had around 225,000 items of stock to donate including crockery, glassware and cutlery. These proved invaluable to the Epiphany Trust which relies heavily on donations of money and goods in the work they do in Romania and around the world.
The initial large quantities of aid and media attention that had flowed into Romania in the early nineties have subsided considerably, leaving the abandoned generation of Romanian children to grow up without much support. It was very encouraging, therefore, to see ASK and The Epiphany Trust work together and to know that surplus utensils that would have otherwise been thrown are being used for such a good cause.
Providing opportunities for businesses to donate goods to charities is just one of the many ways in which Global Hand seeks to inspire partnerships that will build a better world. We invite organisations from every quarter to consider ways in which they may be able to get involved with us in this important work.