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December 15, 2014 / lachie47

Roberts Reflection on Romanian Trip 2014

Something For Romania is a charity that has been in existence for nearly 24 years and is headed by Lachie Macleod MBE, member of Partick Free Church Congregation, Glasgow.  Over these years and multiple trips; sometimes with lorries but in more recent years supporting and mobilising palliative care in association with Diakonia a Romanian organisation working under the auspices of the Hungarian Reformed Church. Diakonia is involved in work amongst the elderly, gypsies, young people and in recent years, the delivery of palliative care to patients and families who otherwise would have little or no access to such treatment.

Robert & Joy

Robert & Joy

From 16-24th May, Something For Romania invited Rev. Robert Macleod, minister at Lochgilphead and Tarbert, Argyll and Joy Elliott, Patient and Family Support Co-ordinator at Accord Hospice, Paisley, to facilitate a five day seminar within the University of Medicine and Pharmacy Conference Centre in Cluj on the subject of ‘Grief, Loss and Spirituality’. Conference facilities were donated by the Professor of the medical facility and a past Dean of the University. The participants, other than for three Chaplains from Cluj District, were doctors, social workers and nurses, all employees of Diakonia from throughout Romania.

Romania is a country of paradox or at least that is the impression Rev Robert Macleod arrives home with. His daughter, Louise, having been there a number of years ago for a camp under the auspices of Eastern Europe For Christ, had created the impression of a country where horse-mobile, poor roads and dodgy food was the order of the day. The reality of Cluj and other parts of Romania today is different. Cluj is a university city with a student population of 100,000. Its medical Faculty is internationally esteemed. Roman influence presents the visitor with many beautiful buildings and the centre is full of modern cars, fashionable people, mobile phones, chic shops, bars and restaurants and with supermarkets that would adorn any European mall – quality of roads that put Scotland to shame! Yet, go to the suburbs and there is obvious poverty amongst the gypsy communities. Reach further out to places like Mera and you are reminded, despite modernity, there is subsistence living, with the sight of horse and farm implements aplenty, goods transported by horse and cart and generally a more traditional lifestyle.  Whether in the city or rural communities, we were met with exceptional politeness and welcome.  It was touching to w

Andrea & Robert

Andrea & Robert

itness the esteem in which Lachie is held.

The five team members who travelled were able to visit a young people’s care-home, a school and care-home for the elderly [under-going an extension to make it a 30 bed unit] as well as network with medical staff at the university and with the director of hospice care in Oradea [Marinela Murg], who, by 2017, hopes to open a new Hospice state-of-the-art facility.  What a visionary and inspirational lady!  Behind her office desk was a plaque that read: “life is not measured by the number of breaths that you take, but by the moments that take your breath away” – meeting her and other dedicated healthcare professionals in Romania and the work they are engaged in, saw me come home with many such moments.  This was wonderful to witness and humbling that people with so little have achieved so much.  The week spent with healthcare professionals was extremely hard work but special and privileged.

For these healthcare professionals seeking to provide holistic care within a country where there is great social inequality, this was a new, rewarding and challenging experience. In their evaluation returns there were comments: “let’s do this once a year: next time can we have ten days; I have benefited much from these days; constructive, confirmative, instructive; I felt great, it must be CONTINUED!” The 20hr journey was worth it to hear such positive feedback from people doing so much with so little framework and support.

The NHS comes under constant review and criticism. Despite such, we are a privileged people to have access to such a service. When it comes to receiving palliative care, many Romanians are impoverished. The response of a dying lady to the question:  “if….. did not come, who would?” The haunting reply: “no one!” That is not uncommon in Romania as far as access to good palliative care is concerned.

Rev Robert MacLeod


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