The charity 'Aid for Children' was involved since the early 1990's in organising and running regular heavy truck convoys transporting Humanitarian Aid from England to orphanges and hospitals all over Romania.
The trucks were always driven by UK volunteers, and the work of delivering the much-needed goods, all donated from the UK, continued year-on-year up to 2004. Laterly with the participation in the Metropolitan Police Aid Project 'Convoy 2000'.
In November 1999, 'Aid for Children' was asked by the local Health Ministry in Constanta, Romania, in addition to delivering aid, to turn one of their derelict buildings, which had been empty for many years, into a hospice for AIDS and HIV infected children. Romania at this time did not have any hospice establishments and even now, there are only a few in the whole country.
We agreed to renovate and refurbish the building in eighteen months.
Through the dedication and hard work of the volunteers from England and the generosity of donations from UK companies for all the materials, the building was ready for occupation in September 2001 and 'Casa Soarelui' (Sunshine House) was born.
Unfortunately due to staffing and local financial problems with the Romanian Authorities the hospice could not be opened till May 2002.
During the period from 2002 to 2007 over one thousand AIDS and HIV infected children came to 'Casa Soarelui' for respite and palliative care from all regions of Romania. This was a very happy time for the children who have taken away memories they will never forget. Through the correct medication, many are still alive as adults now and stay in close contact with us.
In March 2007 it was agreed to accept terminal adult patients at the Hospice. This was because the surviving children were now adults on successful anti-viral medication, and there was a real need in the region for adults with cancer to receive dedicated respite and terminal care.
The Romanian staff at' Casa Soarelui' have all been trained in palliative care and look after the patients in a special caring way. Our patients are treated with great dignity and respect, and receive excellent palliative, respite and terminal care.
The work on the building has been on going over the years, with another upper floor added to give us more storage space.
A Minivator stairlift was installed in June 2008. This has been a valuable piece of equipment for taking patients up and down to the first floor.
Air conditioning was also installed, which is great in the summer for the patients and staff because of the hot weather.
In 2010, the back garden was landscaped and it looks (as we are often told) 'superb'. This was thanks to the hard work and endeavour of volunteers from the UK. The garden provides a very tranquil, peaceful and private area for the patients, relatives, friends and staff to use.
In 2011 the central heating system was converted from diesel to gas. We are grateful for the donations that made this possible. Also a Romanian electrical company donated and installed part of the front of the building outside with wall insulation. This has made such a difference to keeping the hospice warm in winter.
'Casa Soarelui' has sixteen patient beds on the first floor, in four twin rooms and two four-bedded rooms. On the ground floor are two single bedrooms, primarily used for patients receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
Since 2007 to the present day, we have constantly averaged a 90% bed occupancy rate with patients, who normally come for two weeks respite care. This helps them with their illness and gives their families and relatives a much needed break too. Other patients in the final days of their illness also require more concentrated care from the staff and equipment at 'Casa Soarelui' that cannot be found at home or elsewhere.
The new loft area has been boared and insulated out this year 2011 and gives us the storage area for our materials and equipment. it also keeps the lower floors warm.
In 2012 the maintenance has continued and all three trailers have now been sold. We used them for storage.
This year we decided to go ahead and finish the block paving of the pergala and then block pave most of the drive leaving just the area for the garage. We laid over 17,000 blocks which Dougie did for us. A huge thank you to him.
Now in 2013 the first floor bedrooms, lounge,corridors,and the two bedrooms downstairs, the hall stairs and landing and the entrance hall offices, the doctors and head nurses have been decorated so as to keep up the standard of repair and freshness. The garden is maturing rapidly and is a constant surprise to the patients and visitors,
The kitchen has had to be altered with more kitchen sinks fitted in all we have four! to comply with the health authorities. Also alterations made in the laundry room as well.
A new roof has been fitted and one of the portakabins had to be re roofed.
Our work in 2014 continues with erecting a fence both sides of the building to stop Jimmy(Houdini!) our dog from escaping out of the garden into the street
We have finished the windows in the roof and tiled the window sills.
This year for the first time the plane trees or LIRIODENDRON TULIPIFERA have flowers and look spectacular. Please look in the photos box and see a picture of the flowers. The staff and patients were over the moon by the show of flowers. Our garden is a peaceful place for patients and relatives to sit and spend time together in private.
Unfortunately we lost our dog 'Jimmy' who had been with us for 9years since a puppy. He will be sadly missed.
In october we managed to get a street puppy and he is called Blackie. The staff and patients love him and he is great fun.
This year 2015 has been another busy year for the staff caring for the terminally ill but they are doing so well and have achieved a very high standard in their work.
The garden has matured well and is a great place for the patients, relatives and staff to spend time relaxing.
Our new puppy is a great character and enjoys the company of the patients.
In October we prepared the garden for winter. All the wood in the garden was treated with preservative. The grapes were harvested for juice. The almond trees had their first nuts which was fantastic.
Another year 2016 is coming to a close after an extremely busy time. Glad to say that the staff have maintained our very high standard and the patients have been cared for in a very special way. The garden has matured and is a wonderful place for patients and relatives to sit and enjoy to peace an tranquility.
Thanks to all those who made donations to the hospice. This enabled us to replace the central heating boiler. well done
This project would not have been possible without the dedication of the volunteers who have given up their time and energy to do this work, and also to all the people and companies who have donated the money, materials and goods to make this hospice come true; so to all of you we say -
THANK YOU AND WELL DONE!