Cristi’s campaign for Copaceni – establishing a children’s hospice in Romania

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Cristi’s story is the story of thousands of Romanian young people whose early childhood memories are little more than a nightmare – never knowing the feeling of belonging to a family or a place that they could call home.

To add to all this, Cristi’s life has been dominated by an incurable illness – cystic fibrosis. The diagnosis was made very late and he was given completely inadequate care and treatment to fight all the infections. In fact, half of his 24 years have been spent in hospitals because the illness from which he suffers causes him frequent respirartory problems and other serious complications.

A difficult childhood

Up until the age of two, Cristi lived with his mother in very poor conditions. He then went to live with his grandmother in the countryside. Despite a lack of material things, she gave him a lot more attention. However, his health started to deteriorate and he had his first spells in hospital. He passed through the hands of ten different doctors before being diagnosed correctly at the age of 10.

During this time, his mother moved into the grandmother’s house together with her abusive partner. The lack of food and other necessities, the constant scandals and physical abuse made Cristi’s symptoms a lot worse and caused a further detioration in his health. His mother began to lock him in a room and sometimes he was not allowed out for weeks on end. In 2004, Cristi witnessed a final fight between his mother and her partner; she was brutally murdered in front of Cristi’s eyes. Cristi lived another year in the house in which his mother had been killed – an incident which scarred him for life.

Cristi then went to secondary school in Bucharest and for a time was given accommodation by some relatives. In his last year, his uncle and aunt threw him out, frightened by the serious episodes of illness that he was beginning to suffer and mistakenly thinking that the illness could be contagious. During this time his grandmother passed away, so he was left without a soul in the world.

Contact with Hospice

Fortunately, at this time Cristi came into contact with Hospice Casa Sperantei. The team then did everything in its power to find Cristi somewhere to live. For six months, a hospice supporter offered 150 euros a month so that Cristi could have somewhere to stay and finish his studies. He was then able to move into accommodation above the old hospice office. This also enabled him to receive the regular medical care and physiotherapy that he needed.

For Cristi, this was the start of a completely new life. Hospice became his home and he started to find out what ‘family’ really meant – a family not created by blood ties, but a family created by love. Nearly always smiling, Cristi is a young man with a mission. He knows very well that his illness is not curable and that his life will be severely shortened by it. 

However, he refuses to let this knowledge defeat him. He managed to get a job as a hospital receptionist, he has a girlfriend and he volunteers regularly for hospice. His hobby is photography and he recently exhibited a collection of moving photos taken by him of other hospice patients to show ‘courage in adversity’. All this helps him to live a meaningful life.

Establishing a centre for children with life limiting conditions

Like any other young person, Cristi has his dreams, but unlike most at his age he has a very special and ambitious dream – to help establish a centre in Bucharest that will care for children and young people just like him who suffer from life limiting conditions. A Romanian family decided to donate a property to Hospice Casa Sperantei for this purpose at Copaceni, near Bucharest and Cristi wants to play a lead role during the short time he has left in trying to convince people to support it.

The new centre will house a respite centre for 12 children, a day therapy unit where children will receive various kinds of therapy and education, an emergency accommodation unit for families with sick children in distress and a social enterprise project that will give older children with illnesses like muscular dystrophy the chance of meaningful work experience. 

One of the buildings has already been converted into a venue for summer camps and, this year, four very successful summer camps for children who have been bereaved or have a sick parent or sibling, took place there. All of the children’s patients will receive follow up home care from the Casa Sperantei team and family members will be given support and training on how best to care for the children.

The Campaign for Copaceni is being launched to help fulfil Cristi’s dream. We hope that many people will support his vision.

If you would like to encourage him by making a donation or sending a short message, you can do so through the Virgin Money Giving website

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