The group "Project Romania" was set up in 1991 by the seven churches in Chard after a local couple had come across a needy orphanage for 60 children aged between 3 and 6 years in the Transylvanian village of Boarta. Often, in summer, the water supply dried up and workers had to carry water up the hill from the village to the orphanage. A team of 14 spent three weeks clearing the well and providing water for the orphanage. They discovered that some of the children really were orphans, but others were the product of Ceausescu’s policies to increase the work force by insisting that all women had at least 5 children.

From the start community leaders in Romania asked the Project to concentrate on the welfare of the children as that way nearly all families in the commune would be touched.

As the work grew the trustees employed a part time Romanian manager in Seica Mare, Florin Benghea, to see to the day to day running of the work, and this was a great success.

He was able to point out specific needs and so programmes were set up to meet these needs, such as

  • Bread4Buia - providing bread twice weekly to the very poor children in the school at Buia.
  • Health Seica - working with local doctors, sponsoring operations and medicines.
  • Literacy classes taken by volunteers after school hours.
  • Family sponsorship – keeping families together and ensuring that their children are able to continue with their schooling.
  • School sponsorship – providing equipment, (buying in country wherever possible), and financing annual prizes and bursaries.

In 2002 the Sibiu Education Department offered the Romanian NGO, through whom we work, a redundant school in Buia rent-free for 10 years. The building was in need of a major refit. Whilst this took place Project Romania held summer Holiday Clubs in the playground, and in other villages of the commune. The local children and community leaders were delighted with this effort.

In 2005 THE RAINBOW CENTRE of HOPE was opened by Sir Graham Watson, Patron for Project Romania. The Centre has served the community in a number of ways since then, although the needs of local children have always been paramount. Initially a local teacher ran a daily Homework Club, where the poorest children had a chance to do homework in the warm and light room (they may not have electricity at home), but this closed when she was unwell. However 2 doctors use the Centre on a weekly basis, and other community and school functions are held there. Several teams from the UK have spent time there doing Holiday Clubs or practical tasks – see reports.

Detailed History

1991 - 1993

further teams did more plumbing and decorating at the orphanage

1993 – 1998

The Project was asked to work in the whole commune of Seica Mare and the ongoing work of rewiring and re-furbishing the schools began. During those years a local Chard student spent several months building play areas for the primary schools and "bridges" of communication within in the Commune.
Much technological equipment was provided for the schools, from the UK, and more practical needs were met by purchasing desks, fires and carpets locally.

1998 - 2002

In 1999 the Project employed Florin Benghea as manager. A Romanian who is well known in the community, he is also vice President of the sister NGO EuroTransilvania with whom Project Romania works according to Romanian law. Shortly after this various permanent aid programmes were started.

  • Health Seica was initially set up to help doctors eradicate the problems caused by hypertension. It has since encompassed
    • subsidising medication for the very poor, with particular emphasis on sick children at the request of the local doctors,
    • refitting the local surgery which was threatened with closure as it was so old and unhygienic
    • financing much needed operations for children and some adults. One such child was 13 year old Lucia Bogdan, whose deformed leg was repaired in Sibiu enabling her to walk.
  • Family Sponsorship Scheme More than 50 families have been helped. They receive regular monthly payments which enable them to bring up their children in their own homes, and ensuring that they get an education at local schools. The Romanian manager, Florin Benghea, decides whether a family should receive cash or have food and clothing bought for them. He also started a scheme to pay the money into bank accounts for the families “to give them some dignity”, showing great sensitivity. All children on this scheme are assisted to attend school in the nearby city until they are 18, if they are able students.
  • Literacy Classes Children in local schools were taught by volunteer teachers from a sister charity after normal school hours. Many children needed extra help to read and write. When the other charity closed this ceased and the regular staff, inspired by this, now give more help.
  • Bread for Buia Two loaves of bread are given to all school children in the remote and very poor villages of Buia and Stenea every week. This also encourages them to attend school and as a result the standard of learning has risen!
  • Further work done in the schools:
    • Financing a Craft Room in the Primary School
    • Providing Christmas presents for all school children at the end of term celebration in December for many years – due to the current financial climate presents are only provided for sponsored families now.
    • Educational/cultural excursions to historical sites in the region
    • Lighting for many dark classrooms; murals painted on bare walls; and a Language Lab set up in the senior school
    • A boundary fence financed for the vulnerable Primary School
    • Water provided for the Primary School in Seica – the only school of 8 to have any water at all. (This situation changed once Florin Benghea became deputy Mayor and the local administration has gained grants to rebuild the Senior School and has also built two totally new kindergartens.)
    • Annual school prizes for the commune were financed from the year 2000 and a £200 bursary was put into place, to be divided between ten best 14 year old students leaving compulsory education and going on to further education in the nearby city of Sibiu.
    • Financing of traditional dancing sessions for over 70 children each week for several years

2003 – 2005

The Education Department in Sibiu offered EuroTransilvania a redundant school in Buia in need of refitting, rent-free for 10 years. After intensive Fund Raising by Project Romania, this was completely refurbished to E U Standards as a community centre.

Holiday Clubs were held during the summers in 5 villages. The Holiday Club at Buia took place in the playground of the school being refurbished. Volunteers came from the UK to run them, and the clubs were appreciated by everyone, including school staff and local priests.

2005 THE RAINBOW CENTRE of HOPE was opened by Project Romania’s Patron, Sir Graham Watson.

2005 - 2014

The Rainbow Centre of Hope:

  • approximately 40 children come daily during term time until 2007, to do their homework in the warm environment – many not having electricity in their homes.
  • the doctor, who comes once a week on a Thursday, holds her surgery there and a second doctor now comes as well on a Fridays
  • various official functions have been held including the induction and reception of the new priest.
  • the General School in Seica Mare uses the building for semi-official functions.
  • villagers use it for funeral wakes (weddings are not encouraged due to the likelihood of intoxicated persons causing damage!)

2008 - Twinning with Chard

A team of 34 children and 10 adults came from Seica Mare to Chard for a week in September to take part in the Twinning Ceremony on 6th September.

This took place in the Guildhall Chard, Somerset and was a very grand occasion, with the Mayor of Seica Mare, Nicolae Susa and his Deputy Florin Benghea (Project Romania manager) present, accompanied by their wives and children, along with the Mayor and Mayoress of Chard, Cllr Martin and Nanette Wale, and many town Councillors. Cllr Jill Shortland, Leader of the Somerset County Council was present with her husband Cllr Garry Shortland, Jimmy Evans the Chair of the Twinning Group, and David Laws MP.

In the evening the Patron of the Charity Sir Graham Watson arrived with his wife Rita. Graham spoke of his delight at seeing the two communities still working so well together, as they had done for so many years.

The 34 youngsters were part of a 70 strong Traditional Dance Group trained by Gina Benghea every week, in her spare time in Seica Mare. They performed at all the junior Schools in Chard and at St Mary’s Church at “Chard Churches Together” service led by Revd Marilyn Tricker, the Charity’s Chairperson, and minister at Chard Methodist Church. The town was very impressed by the young dancers whose dedication to ‘discipline and footwork’ was outstanding. It was also very obvious that they loved dancing. The audience was treated to a short concert in the evening when young people from Chard also took part. Perhaps the highlight was Cati, a young Romanian girl of 8 who had been playing the violin for only 1 year and yet stood up and played two classical pieces without any music in front of her.

The dancing team also took part in the entertainment before and after the Tour of Britain Cycle Race, dancing in the Guildhall Chard (due to rain) for all the local mayors, and then travelling to Burnham on Sea to dance in the street prior to the cyclists arriving.
The charity is so grateful to all who helped that week to be as successful as it was, both with generous financing and in many practical ways – and also all those who worked behind the scenes to ensure that the Twinning ceremony was carried out without a hitch. The autumn 2008 Newsletter has pictures and articles about the event and is downloadable.


July – A team of 7 young people from the Chard churches travelled by minibus to Seica Mare and ran holiday clubs for the youngsters. The children had a wonderful time, as did the team. For them it was a life changing experience.

September - The Mayor of Chard and her husband, Councillors Jill and Garry Shortland visited the commune as an exchange civic visit and the twinning was officially signed in Seica Mare. During this visit the mayor became aware of the need for business enterprise and skills to develop in the commune and this could well be a project where the council could help.
There was also much discussion about the Rainbow Centre and the cabins – two of which are built. This area of the work is still ongoing.


Mrs Liz Rosser, head teacher of Manor Court School in Chard sent money for the children in the primary school to have brand new clean text books for reading.

They were so happy to receive this help.

Other children did well in the educational system, and much of this was due to the sponsorship and encouragement they had received from people in the UK.


This was the 20th anniversary of the Charity and a great number of supporters filled St Mary’s Church in May for service of Thanks Giving and Celebration. See Newsletter Autumn 2011.

The work of the charity progressed slowly and surely, meeting the needs of families who had lost loved ones and had no means of support, and encouraging staff and pupils in the local schools with prizes and bursaries.

The Bread4Buia programme is much appreciated in the villages of Buia and Stenea where unemployment is still over 90%. However this is currently underfunded and new regular sponsors are needed – if you can help with this vital programme please contact us through the website. (2014 - The programme is reviewed every spring on the official visit, and sadly is still required as the community is so poor.)

Two of the committee visited in April/May and met with a worker from Asociatia Lumina, a Romanian Christian charity. Together plans were laid and with the help of friends in Lumina charity concrete was laid at the Rainbow Centre so the cabins in situ and the sites where the next three will be placed, have good paths leading up to them.

In the autumn the new Chair of the charity also visited with 7 others, all staying at the Centre. All the work was reviewed and plans made for fund-raising and future use of the Centre in particular.


February - two trustees visited, many plans had changed but the secure lease for the Centre was being arranged by the Mayor, Nicolai Susa, and was hopefully to be available to a new NGO in the village in the autumn of 2012. This NGO will work closely with Project Romania and we pray that the new build will commence in the spring of 2013. There is an independent fund raiser poised to help as soon as the lease is ready. (There has been delay in this work due to many unexpected circumstances.)

The Centre has been used extensively by the villagers of Buia and many smaller surrounding villages and a Table Tennis fraternity has emerged among the young (and not so young) people in the community.

See Our Projects – Rainbow Centre.

In June 2012, four members of the Charity walked/trekked 110 kilometres in Tarnava Mare – a Natura2000 protected area of outstanding natural beauty and cultural interest.

This walk, now explored and documented by these first walkers, can become a source of funding for the Centre and several schools have shown an interest. Sixth Form students can do the sponsored walk as part of an International Baccalaureate and/or as part of the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme.

Stuart Galpin, who spent 6 months as a student in Comuna Seica Mare in 1994, returned in his professional capacity as a Landscape Architect and surveyed the site of the Rainbow Centre. He drew up a Master plan to be used when Fund Raising for grants for the completion of the site as a residential centre.