A smile for Santa…


White Mountain Property CharityThanks to your donations this week, we were able to make some mentally ill patients very happy & bring some Christmas hope & love to 38 orphans.

From the 950e raised (in just 6 days), we split the money into 2 causes.

Cause 1: bring presents to 145 mentally ill adults in a state hospital near Zarnesti. (mission accomplished)

Cause 2: bring Santa to distribute toys, sweets & bicycles for 38 children in an all boys orphanage. (mostly complete, work in progress)

Cause 1 – with the help of the staff at White Mountain: Ioana, Anne-liese, & both Florin’s, who kindly gave up their Saturday to help, we went on a shopping spree to procure the booty! Kaufland, Carrefour, Selgros were just a few of the shops & we even added a trip the open air 2nd hand market, which proved an excellent move. Using just 350 Euros, we were able to compile 145 individual goodie-bags for the patients & 10 smaller bags for staff, each comprising: A banana, apple, orange, candy, cake, yogurt, wafer biscuit, packet of biscuits & a cuddly toy. After getting the 20 plus bags of shopping back to the office, we spent a few hours in a sort of production line, passing goodie bag from person to person to top them up with the prescribed contents.

Incidentally, several people previously suggested adult patients would not appreciate a teddy-bear at their age, but 100 or more smiles this morning would beg to differ (lesson for the future).

So we met up again Sunday morning to load up the 155 goodie bags, & set off for the hospital. It’s fair to say some of the team were a little intimidated meeting mentally handicapped patients for the 1st time. But it has to be said, Florin, or as some of you know him, ‘Slim’ in his Santa outfit did an outstanding job. He would tell each of them that if they weren’t back in their rooms (around 30) by the time he got there, they would not get their surprise gift from Santa. Off they scampered with excitement, which was indeed a nice thing see, i.e., to see people so otherwise abandoned from the thoughts & deeds of the general public indefinitely, run to their rooms with the hope & expectation normally only seen in children, was a joyous sight.

So, off we went to do the rounds, along with Santa & equipped with sacks of gifts bursting at their seams & weighing at least 100 if not 200kg. Room by room, as Santa walked in, smiles all around & genuine joy.

‘Cine a fost cuminte in anul asta?’ Santa would say, as he stood filling the doorway of each room. ‘Noi Toti’ came the excited chorus from just about all occupants. He would then proceed around the room & hand out the goodie bags & exchange words. Just as with kids, there was even a little snitching on others! Some patients would whisper ‘he wasn’t good Santa, he was the worst!’ which made us smile! One patient, proceeded to tell me in fluent German, then French, then English, how he was in London in 1972 & was a fan of Pink Floyd & various other rock bands!.

After a short hour, we had finished our rounds & left an entire hospital of smiling faces, which is made possible only by your generosity. Rarely did 2 Euros per person create more happiness than it did today. On behalf of the patients at the hospital, a heartfelt thank you.

If you ever get the chance to go, I strongly recommend it. It’s not a place to be afraid of at all. These patients are just harmless souls, broken people locked in a tightly controlled system. Any that have signs of aggression are controlled (excessively in my view) with sedatives, so you have nothing at all to fear, apart from a truly humbling experience.

One thing to bear in mind. Many of the 145 inmates appear to be suffering only form some kind of dementia, i.e., something many of us will one day suffer at the end of our time. I sincerely hope I am not a place like that though when that time comes. A more forgotten corner of Society you will struggle to find. Ask yourself honestly, who would care tuppence about the inmates of this place, apart from the deeds of a few random visitors?

Cause 2 – Christmas brings out the best in people, if you make the effort to dig a little. My input to this & cause 1 was merely to collate & focus your generosity. I specifically did not put any money in, so as not to dilute your deeds. But in co-ordinating the money & time you gave, we have achieved a significant gesture. Read on.

Using ebay, I was able to buy 9 excellent 2nd hand bicycles from the UK, 2 ride-on electric cars I would have cut a limb off to have as a child, & a pedal-go-cart. In the coming weeks I will be able to bring these items to the boys, thanks to your donations/ time, & the generous help of Niul Foat & Andy Balchin to collect everything from the sellers, & Bogdan for driving the items from the UK, though France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Hungary & more than half of Romania. One the items reach me, I will deliver them to Rupea & upload the pictures.


In the mean time while we await the items from the UK, we went back to the orphanage on Weds 20th December with 3 cars full of guests, including White Mountain’s Anne-Liese & Ioana, most of our arch rivals team at (highly respectable) Coldwell Banker (Brasov branch) & 2 landlord clients of White Mountain, Andras & Mihai, & of course, the ever invaluable Slim, aka Santa.

We took with us for each child a small goody-bag with toys & sweets for all the children & as you can see in the video, they were more than a little pleased. Santa made a point to learn all the names of each child, further enhancing the experience & memory which will no doubt serve as some comfort for their rugged roads ahead. One by one, he called out their names to come up, & got most to sing a traditional song for Santa, before handing them their present, which included sweets, drink, woolly-hat, a torch or toy Ferrari & a model of a superhero. It fair to say all involved had a great morning, & made Christmas feel more special. A few people avoided going because they did not want to upset themselves or bring themselves down for Christmas. On the contrary, it was everyone’s view who came along, that the absent people missed a wonderful opportunity experience, just as I am sure you have by contributing as you did.

3 cheers for all involved & a great big thank you to Slim, for an excellent job.

Outstanding tasks:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=peei1VPUh0s[/youtube]A/ Rupea

  1. Deliver bikes & cars to Rupea within a few weeks.
  2. Organise some kind of go-cart day.
  3. Organise some kind of practical workshops for the older boys.

B/ Mental Hospital

  1. revisit Mental hospital to bring film DVD’s (now completed)
  2. If time/ volunteers permit, to organise some kind of minor renovation session for some of the rooms at the mental hospital. It’s fair to say, the decor is horrendous. 30 year old paint, peeling off the walls, knackered mattresses, terrible lighting, & not a single place to sit in the entire hospital save the horrible metal chairs in the stark dining room.
  3. In an ideal world, I’d install 10 cheap sofa’s, & paint 10 dorms in 2012. God willing, let’s see what we can do with your help. Donations welcome for this project. Please click link below to send. No amount too small & 100% will go to the cause mentioned. (The email address for donations is info@whitemountain.ro) (Status at July 8th 2012: one dorm refurbished, 15 more to go!)

PS, just to show you how far your money went, the 8 bikes, 2 electric cars & one pedal go cart cost around 220gbp, plus another 200gbp to get them rounded up to 2 locations in Surrey & shipped 1600 miles to Romania. In lei, that’s around 2100 ron, or the price for less than a quarter of what was bought.