Robert McCahill, a 1st Year Acting and Performing Student recently returned from doing some wonderful voluntary work. We are all proud of him.
Here is Roberts first hand account of the experience.
On 11/09/18 I travelled to Cernevoda in Romania as part of a team of voluntary workers with Scottish charity Stand International. We would be working with a charity based there called Nightingales, which supports five people with learning disabilities, four of whom also have HIV. These people were abandoned when the Romanian orphanage tragedy came to light in the early 90s.
The charity also supports young people in danger of becoming involved in the sex trade, which is a huge problem in the area due to poverty and lack of prospects. Ben, aninspirational guy who runs the charity, and his wife Louisa, made us incredibly welcome, even giving up their home for the two weeks to let us stay there. Most of what we were doing was quite heavy manual work, putting up guttering, concreting, building a partition wall, all things I would have said I couldn't do before travelling. To be honest, I struggled to hang a picture before I went, but with support and encouragement, and through teamwork and perseverance, we met all of our targets.
I came away with a new set of skills, and a realisation that sometimes the only limits I have are the ones I place upon myself. Because of their fairly recent emergence from communism, many Romanians live in poverty and there is a lack of a welfare state. This really reinforced to me just how lucky I am. Despite the countries problems, the people have an amazing outlook on life, and the people we helped showed so much gratitude and respect for us all that it was truly humbling. The five people living at the project, Adriana, Vali, Baba, Elana and Turkyan in particular left an impression that will last a lifetime. Outwith the charity they have no one, they have very little in the way of possessions, and they face immense challenges with their health conditions, yet I only ever saw them smiling.
It would have been impossible to come away from the trip without realising just how grateful I actually am for the people, things and opportunities I have in my life. It was a life changing experience. If anyone has the opportunity to get involved with something like this, I would really encourage them to seize it.