2015 Summer Trip Report

Please click here to view the 2015 Summer Trip Report.

2015 Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting on June 2nd was attended by 26 people (with 13 apologies), and we were pleased to welcome Councillor Dave Bulmer, newly elected Mayor of Chard.

After the meeting the mayor had very helpful conversations with the new Chairman, Revd Mike Hornsby, and trustees about the forthcoming 25th Anniversary of the charity in 2016. He would like to involve the town in its twinning role.

A short film was shown some of the latest news and this film can be seen again by contacting the charity through the website. The film was followed by a short talk about the 'waiting period' the charity is currently experiencing as new paperwork is organised in order to continue the refurbishment of the Rainbow Centre of Hope and use it as a residential Centre.

Currently two trustees are in Seica Mare and there will be negotiations with the mayor and council and the NGO EuroTransilvania to speed this paperwork on its way. We would value prayer for this very important visit.

All other news is in the latest newsletter.


September 2014 News Update

Thank you to everyone who has supported the work in Seica Mare over the years. The July Open Day raised £293.39, the clothes collection raised £135.00. The lives of children like Alexandra, who has cerebral palsy, and other very poor children in Seica Mare are enriched through your love. They are so grateful. Other donations from Crewkerne and Misterton Baptist Church and other friends around the country have been so encouraging and very welcome.

This year has not been without problems - that trolley for Denisa is still waiting to go BUT we are now scheduled to send it on 20th October with Paul Reynolds, from Mission and Relief Logistics Ltd, in Kent.

We are also still awaiting some movement re

  • the ‘free protocol’ for the Rainbow Centre of Hope
  • the Pharmacy which needs to be opened for business!

Both these situations need firm action. Florin Benghea, the deputy mayor is working on it!

Spring Trip 2013 Report

Aims of the trip

Stuart Galpin: To assess the Rainbow Centre site in his professional capacity and use his expertise to suggest how we develop the area

The team

To negotiate a 49 year lease for the Centre with the Town Hall (who own the site) as the current lease expires at the end of 2013
To meet the Romanian NGO which has been formed in order to take the lease as a UK charity cannot
To discuss the protocol between the new NGO and Project Romania and formulate plans for sustainability in the future, with the aim of Romanians running the Centre eventually
To find a company to open and run the Pharmacy in the portacabin which Streetspace renovated in 2012

The Rainbow Centre of Hope

We arrived at 9.30 pm, the moon was full and rising above the hill opposite the Centre. As we drank tea outside the top cabin in the warm evening air, the view was spectacular and the feeling of peace and God’s love was almost palpable.
Next morning we awoke to sheep bleating in the neighbour’s garden, and the sheep dogs started barking as we went down to the main building! They’re across an orchard but we realised we need to get our fence in position – soon!

Stuart suggested planting fruit trees outside the Centre and trees on the banks to create some privacy for visitors. Onoriu, the Romanian caretaker, took this literally and proudly showed us 4 trees he’d planted – one for each of us and one for him. Another day he ploughed the top with a horse drawn plough and planted lettuce on the steep banks. Every evening his cow ambles up to graze, and all this confirmed that we must respect all local culture.

Having surveyed the area with Stuart we felt it was better for disabled children to be on the 1st level in new larger, well equipped cabins. Part of the adventure would be to sleep in a cabin on a hill and to integrate with other children, and not be different. Stuart then produced a Master Plan– available separately and on the website.

This place is truly a ‘taste of rural Transylvania – village life for real’. Cooking on a wood fire; seeing how villagers live; watching the cows come home, it’s all so different, it has to be experienced!

Bread4Buia (and Stenea)

The people here still need and appreciate this programme – but we must help provide jobs and incomes through the Centre. At Stenea School we met Nicu, 11 years old but with a mental age of4 as he suffers from Cerebral Palsy. He walks a little but the other children help him a lot and push his chair around and he LOVES being with all of them. Nicu would love a holiday at the Centre. His family benefits from the bread programme, and we feel sad that we can only provide this during school terms as the price has risen, but proud that we managed the full school year 2012 / 2013 this time. New sponsors needed.

Meeting with the Mayor – 09 05 2013

Lease - We had a good meeting with Nicolae Susa, Mayor; Florin Benghea, Deputy Mayor, and Gicu Novac from the new NGO. The lease for the Centre had not been started but after this meeting we are told it will be ready in 2 months!
Meeting with Chair of new NGO, Miriam Ceausu. As an overseeing NGO they want to combine similar Christian based activities at the old Castle/orphanage building in Boarta, and are happy for The RAINBOW CENTRE to be used in 2 ways to ensure sustainability.
1. Commercially as a Christian Centre for foreign visitors
• Cultural visits / Retreats - visiting the many Saxon fortified churches. This time we visited a magnificent restored church at Axente Sever, only 10 miles away
• Walking/rambling holidays / Sponsored walks for sixth formers / Scouts/guides camping
• Eco-tourist holidays / Painting, natural history, historical studies, village studies / Riding on a horse and cart and BBQ’s in the hills
Eco-tourism will provide employment in the village and trade for the local stores, & encourage local people to use their skills and be paid to show traditional life in a Romanian village such as
• Bread making / Weaving / Barrel making / Sheep milking / Cheese making
• Care of bees and making and selling honey / Black smith working / Brick making
• Traditional dancing
2. Money from these activities will support staff and general maintenance, and enable
• Disadvantaged Romanian children to have botanical field trips locally and enjoy Christian holiday camps
• Disabled children with a carer to come for a short break and a chance to interact with well children – 2 larger cabins to be put on the first level and equipped for this.

The Pharmacy

It has been arranged for PolisanoClinic in Sibiu to take it on. Once the new NGO has the lease it will give the cabin to Polysano. That will be in approx. 3 months from now (May 2013)


£2452.00 has been returned from the medical equipment firm after her operation was cancelled.
Denisa was relaxed and sitting in her wheelchair more easily than a year ago. Recently her surgeon said that surgery should have been done years ago and now it’s virtually impossible. This made it easier for them to accept that Mr Steele from Musgrove had also said this.
She can’t get to the school and is very bent, so a teacher comes to the house twice a week for 2 hours. She’s a remarkable child though –
10 years old no complaints. Florin asked if we could use the money to provide a hoist and a bath, as currently there is just a bowl in the kitchen to wash her.

Marius Vlad

Marius was delighted to see us and very happy with the cushion for his chair and the ‘camel bag’ for his back as a way to have a drink when mum is not there. His ‘mouse’ is in UK being mended at present, and mum wished she could save her money and get another so he would have 2, as he was so happy with it. We assured her that we were doing all we could to get the original one back to him quickly. She’s anxious about her own health and Marius’ care when she is gone, and we wondered about a hoist for him too, and a better chair to sit in.
STOP PRESS: 21 05 13 : SmartBox will replace the mouse as the fault was theirs. We anticipate it going to Marius by the end of the month. He will be so happy.

Fire Engine

Florin gave us details of two other recent devastating fires and said he’d been thinking of making a trailer with water and ladders to help – but would be glad if we could get equipment for him. We continue to pursue that through the Fire Service and Sir Graham Watson.

Family Reports

There are over 30 children sponsored and all the families were visited.

Many families try hard but still struggle. 14 year old Csilla has a lovely voice, is very musical and bright, getting top marks at everything! She’s learning the guitar at school, but her family can’t afford to buy her one. Mum cycles 2 miles to the train daily at 4.30am for work daily whatever the weather, getting home at 6pm. Dad is very ill so Csilla works at home after school, while her brother, at 11, looks after the chickens and pig.

Another family live in real poverty yet the girls are polite and loving. They do quite well at school but when they get home they chop wood and clean out the animals. Their dad helps at the Centre and asked if we could give him money to buy fertiliser for his field.

Visiting is a sobering experience and makes one very grateful for blessings enjoyed in UK.

To relax, we did a 10km walk one day (in 30C !) & renewed aquaintance with our lovely guide Sergiu.
He will check our area for walks, accommodation and bike trails for when we have guests at the Centre.

Finally …… we saw a lesser spotted eagle, heard a scops owl every night at the Centre & filmed 2 bright green lizards sunning themselves – so very sensible in all that heat!

2013 AGM

The 2013 Project Romania Annual General Meeting will take place at St Mary's Church Hall, Upper Room on Monday May 20th at 7.30pm. All are welcome.

There will be a report on the April/May 2013 trip and a display by Streetspace.

Streetspace Meets Project Romania

After “cycling” all the way from Chard to Seica Mare, Romania, and then actually arriving in 39C (102°F) temperatures it wasn't certain that the five lads, aged 15 to 17, were going to be able to do any useful work converting a portacabin into a pharmacy. One thing in their favour was that the cycle ride had been in April on exercise bikes at the Cresta Leisure Centre to raise money for the trip, which then took place in August! In fact, the lads exceeded expectations, and were able to work hard, even after lunch in the worst of the heat, when the locals were taking a nap!

StreetSpace Chard, a youth work associated with Chard Churches Together, collaborated with Chard Churches Together's charity Project Romania. StreetSpace leaders Tracey Hallett and Mark Porthouse met up with Project Romania's Dawn and Andy Fletcher and Florin Benghea (Romanian manager) in the rural village of Buia, part of the commune of Seica Mare.

Bertie, Ollie, Matt, Bradley and Will were the young men from the Chard area who were keen to experience helping out with a charity project abroad. Bradley commented “Romania was a good laugh, we made new friends, did hard work and helped people out for a good cause.”

In addition to the painting, carpentry, cleaning things, moving things and general DIY (along with a little art work) the team got to know some of the locals, experience the local subsistence lifestyle and visit a mediaeval city – suffering the roads on the way! They even rose at 6am one morning to go into the hills and see sheep being milked, and then watch the cheese making – after breakfast.

They were given a lot of help from the local shops. We needed paints for Ollie to do his artwork on the two noticeboards and the owner of the new builder’s yard in Seica Mare gave us her daughter’s painting set to use – free of charge.

One of our intended outcomes was to help these young people gain valuable work experience which would then help them access employment when they came home, and we are delighted to report that Will has already secured an apprenticeship.

Streetspace will now be looking to the future with regard to further trips along the same lines, with other Chard young people.

The Project Romania team had the following to say:

“The Streetspace team arrived in Buia tired but extremely enthusiastic - even after a long, long journey through the night. They set to work that same evening and basically worked hard and well all week long, despite the intense heat and some difficulties with sub-standard tools and new materials. They were happy to cooperate with all of us.

They soon made friends with the staff on site, and all the local people, and seemed to enjoy the jaunts to the shop and communicating in sign language to the shop keeper! They got on well with Flori and Bogdan, two Romanian teenagers who came every day to work alongside the team.

All the meals prepared for them by Corina, the lady who lives opposite the Centre, were eagerly awaited and demolished and 'seconds' requested at times much to her delight - hospitality is a Romanian virtue of which they are very proud.

The two leaders looked after them expertly, and the whole trip was very successful in every way.

We hope that the 'Farmacia' they created from a derelict portacabin will soon be up and running – it’s a great testimonial to their perseverance.

They experienced a different side of Romania on their final day as a local guide took them mountain biking – this is the video Sergiu had taken earlier!

In all we were very proud of the team, they were a credit to their leaders and themselves.”

For more information about Streetspace visit their website where you can request to be added to their Watch this Space newsletter, or ask Richard Passmore (07830 197160) about Space Makers our newly launched appeal for people who will make some space in their wallets to support us financially, as we seek to appoint a full time Christian youth worker for the area, or people who make space in the diary to volunteer.

For a report about the families visited by the Streetspace team, please click here.

June 2012 Transylvanian Trekathon

Note: we are still accepting donations for our sponsored Trekathon.

The (definitely “A”) team has trekked through rural Transylvania, and not just the expected 80 kilometres - the walk actually spanned 110 kilometres at least (the reason being, it was VERY, very hilly, and each hill added 2 km plus to the original estimate).

So what was it like – this trek through the foothills of the Carpathians? Well – to say it was ‘gruelling’ would be putting it mildly! Certainly that was the case for the first two days, possibly due to the fact that we visited and researched several fortified Saxon churches before starting the walk on both days. By 12.30pm the sun was blazing down and the temperature around 30° as we began our treks - as we climbed hill after hill … (remember the old song – ‘Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun…’?)
However, even the hard days really were ‘enjoyable’, and from the start we were amazed and delighted with the multitude of wild flowers in this very beautiful and totally unspoilt countryside; with the eagles soaring overhead (we could hear their harsh cry – as opposed to the few buzzards with their softer mewing sound); with red back shrikes flying from tree to tree, (one team member was sure he spotted a brightly coloured bee eater); with bonuses when we heard orioles, saw hoopoes and the print of a BEAR. We met a little old shepherd with a waxy handlebar moustache who’d seen a bear and cubs only a couple of days before!

We came across several large flocks of sheep guarded by very fierce dogs and our young guide, Sergiu, was just the right person to have with us. As soon as he heard the sheep bells he cut long sticks from the hedgerow and then as we came into the area he had us in a tight bunch, ‘wearing’ not waving our sticks, then he called to the dogs in a calm chant like voice telling them to go back to the sheep “na la oi, na!”! And they did! Not before showing how very aggressive they would become if we stayed! (NO photos of those encounters!)

On the cultural side – we saw bread baked in an old stone bread oven (in the chicken run); watched a young lady weaving a beautiful carpet on a massive loom; visited the charcoal maker and the brick maker; saw people who make jams and preserves– all from local fruits and home grown vegetables; saw hay-tedding done by hand and a horse drawn plough; and …
… when we were on the longest trek in the middle of nowhere, our guide ‘called a cab’ – a local friendly horse and cart, and we descended into the next village in style – clinging to the wooden planks at the side of the cart and to one another!

This trek is a forerunner of many more, so we paid attention to every type of detail, whether it was Saxon Heritage, flora and fauna, traditional culture and food, or the actual logistics of getting from (a) to (b) carrying a rucksack and a picnic (our luggage was transported from place to place as part of the deal.)

We are working in conjunction with Fundatia Adept who are striving to preserve the traditional country life of Tarnava Mare and thereby save much of the flora and fauna lost to industrial ‘progress’ in so much of Europe.

Our farmhouse style accommodation was excellent and very different – acquired through the Mihai Eminescu Trust, another charity working to restore and maintain Saxon architecture and traditional lifestyle.

It was all very cultural; eating in open barns and courtyards; seeing where the goats’ cheese that we were eating was made; watching the cows ambling home as we ate one evening; seeing our evening meal bubbling away in a black cauldron over an open fire; finding unusual traditional painted furniture and clothes 100 years old hanging on the walls; and on one occasion sleeping in a drawer and on a shelf (VERY comfortable too).

Through our links with Fundatia Adept we had the services of a young and very fit guide, Sergiu Paca who was excellent. He knew the area like the back of his hand, and was able to assess our capabilities swiftly and tailor the daily trek accordingly. He organised many visits to see traditional crafts and made sure that we had all the information we needed when we were staying in the restored Saxon houses where no-one spoke English.

He also provided mountain bikes for the trail on the 5th day – and they were a challenge to say the least. Peter and Liz did very well, having cycled a lot in the UK of late – we all had a practice ride for 6 kilometres up a stony track to see the local charcoal maker and Dawn and Andy suffered for days afterwards from ‘ hard saddle syndrome’! As a result of this initial evening trial on the bikes Andy and Dawn decided to forego the pleasure of balancing for 6-7 kilometres the following day along a stony track about as wide as the handle bars, and they sailed majestically along the country road to the next village. Liz and Peter, on the other hand, were wonderful, Peter powering up the hill to the ridge and Liz whizzing down the almost vertical descent with hairpin bends (and a dramatic tumble) !

The ‘low road’ route did give the opportunity to drop in at the buffalo farm and arrange a visit that afternoon to see the buffalo come in for milking, and we all enjoyed that very unusual visit.

But, the visit wasn’t all ‘walk’ – we did manage to visit some families in Comuna Seica Mare. Not as many as we’d hoped because we arrived in the last campaign week before the election and it was not deemed sensible, as we might be seen to be ‘buying votes’!! The result of that election was good – the mayor and deputy, our own manager Florin Benghea, were re-elected to continue the excellent work they have done in the past 4 years. The result of our enforced stay in the Centre was also good – as we were able to spend quality time with people there who really needed to talk and several relationships were mended.

After the walk we visited a 2 year old little girl, born with several deformities including only half a left leg. She needs frequent changes to her prosthesis and before we left the UK a family here had offered to sponsor her. Her dad was so happy – and we were thrilled to see the little girl actually running round on her false leg and playing ball with Liz. Sadly Mum was in hospital with a new pregnancy being investigated for problems. This family needs prayer. We also visited Marius (the man with CP who uses a computer mouse with his nose and lip) and took the gadget mouse we had bought in UK. Unfortunately his computer is not man enough for this right now but some friends there are working on it, and we hope to rectify this by the time we visit in July/August.
Denisa’s family news was not good. We didn’t see her this time but he parents are now battling to get the operation performed soon as the surgeon says he is too busy, and this little lass is deteriorating without the corrective spinal surgery. She too needs prayer.

During our time away we were so aware of God’s love in so many ways, and to mention but a couple - the young man who became our guide was a last minute decision by Adept and we couldn’t have asked for anyone more suitable and competent. Then there was the car which Florin organised – not only was it RIGHT hand drive (and had originated in Winterbourne Abbas, Dorset) but it was a ‘Suzuki Jimny’, a car Liz and Peter had driven for years, making them feel very much at home. It was inexpensive to rent, but on Sunday afternoon outside Florin’s home, it refused to start. Within minutes Florin’s son organised his friend’s dad, a mechanic, to come and in a very short time he’d fixed a faulty connection which, had it happened anywhere else would have caused us so many problems.

This visit was mainly about the future of The Rainbow Centre of Hope, groups going there and using it, and we were pleased to see that it is well used now and well appreciated by the villagers, and the table tennis remains ever popular – although more time is spent on the land in summer and often table tennis sessions don’t start until 10pm!
The view from the cabins is as inspiring as ever and sitting there, listening to golden orioles and sheep bells at 6.30am is just magical.
It’s such a great place with real potential that can be used for the good of all who need peace, time to mediate and find God, time to appreciate beauty, have fun and/or relaxation, for whatever reason.
We pray that this walk and all that evolves from it will be a blessing to many in the future.

For more photos please visit the Transylvanian Trekathon Gallery.

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