And Let There Be Dance

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Yesterday was a great day! Apart from the gorgeous Brasov sunshine, the result of a long standing series of efforts came to a fruition. Our sideline-project, when not buried in PM admin, furnishing, renovating etc, is to bring a little care & love to a very run down Mental Hospital near Vulcan, located in a tiny forgotten hamlet. Thanks to your generosity & our maintenance skills, we have done big things. Changed a lot of people’s lives. I thank you sincerely for allowing that to happen.

In case you are wondering what motivates me personally to help, I should explain. I have a mentally handicapped brother & so I understand all too well how my own, & most other people’s reaction and preferred mode of behavior is to distance myself from apparently ‘weird and strange’ people, such as the mentally sick. But I am fortunate to have a mother of 86 who remains the sole carer of my brother, himself a cronically ill mentally and physically disabled person who is 100% dependent on her, her mood, kindness, energy, fitness and her willingness.  I have learned through her that one must not abandon these people just because they are unintelligible, scream, shout, mumble, break things, wet the bed, can’t wash themselves or even rage. I am the least patient person I know. I don’t suffer fools gladly as my team will tell you, so it is not an easy fit with me. Below is a poem that was instrumental to my shift in thinking.  I warn you, not to read if you are wearing make-up!

The poem below written decades ago from my mother to my brother, when he laid in hospital for a small operation as a child, in response to his question to her, ‘mommy, have you sent away for good?.

“I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you again”,
These same words kept repeating in my head, as I sought for peace in vain,
Then I felt the touch of your kiss, your little broken hands touch mine,
I thank god for His wonderful gift, the gift of his love divine,
The troubles we shared have been many, the burden has been heavy to bear,
But none of things really matter, as long as my dear son in here,
We will travel life’s journey together, with thee dear lord as our guide,
We will face all our hardships and trials, as long as we stay side by side,

Some time ago, we fitted a swanky new 32 inch TV & DVD player in a Vulcan hospital, but to stop it being stolen/ broken, we mounted it 3m up in the air in what we thought then, was the best room.  It was placed in the mess-hall so people could see it while eating, but in reality, due in part to the tight regime and in part to no-one wanting to risk climbing a ladder to play a DVD, the TV never got used. So for 18 months, it just sat unused, securely bolted to the wall.  Last night, we moved the TV into the corridor where some 90 or the 147 inmates pass to reach their 11 dorms.

We then fitted 17 small shelves and screwed to each, a radio/ cd player, to almost every dorms in the main building. There are still 7 other dorms that we need to do the same to, but funds are down to zero now, so that will have to wait for another day.

Even though I have a mentally handicapped brother, I can’t pretend I was not intimidated the first time I went, or the 2nd or 3rd for that matter. Now though, after 8 or more trips, I feel more than at ease and indeed, I look forward to seeing some of the sad and broken faces.

So today, I am preparing some CD’s with Irish, Latin, Country etc music to drop off there. Hopefully, it should break up some of the monotony of day to day life there. To give you a taster of who it feels there. its very much like the worst parts of prison, school and an un-policed society. By that I mean, the staff do their best, but there are strong and weak, quiet and aggressive people, rich and poor, intelligent & not so intelligent, fat, thin, tall, short, old, young. All the prejudices you would expect in an uncontrolled society exist there. Ie, one couldn’t walk up to an obese person in the street & call them say fat, short etc, partly because society would not tolerate you doing that & you would be ostracised.  In this environment, such restrictions do not exist, as they don’t in many institutions. so the only way to get away from that is to spend your time (a lifetime in this case) hiding from the bullies. But if you have no facilities, no day room, no TV, no distractions, that means hiding in your bed. Many of these people were doing just that. Staying in their beds.

Next things we would like to assist the patients with, to improve living conditions include:

  • Make CD’s
  • Obtain books, magazines etc
  • Fix the plumbing in each dorm so they have a way to wash
  • Bring a few mattresses I have been donated
  • Repaint a few more of the rooms (helpers welcomed)
  • Common seating
  • Improved lighting (some rooms of 8 people have only one 40w bulb on a side wall)

Well, that’s all my news for this week. Will post updates when I get them.

Update:  Well, almost all my news!. I had a call from Hornbach’s Brasov Manager, who helped us with some materials when we painted the room in the ‘Sex Sells’ article on this blog. They asked us to stop by tonight to pick up some old stock. On arrival, they gave us 17!!! drums of paint, 15 liters each.  That’s around enough to paint 4 or maybe 5 dorms!  So, you can see, by shining a torch light on something, it brings focus where it is much needed.

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