CWU Humanitarian Aid Convoy 2014 - Part 3

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This year Rebecca Shenton, a Family Law Solicitor at Simpson Millar LLP took part in the twice yearly Communication Workers Union Humanitarian Aid (CWUHA) Convoy.

She was joined by Victoria Pope from Fairpoint PLC along with other members of the convoy. Here is the final instalment of her blog, detailing her trip once she entered Bulgaria.

"We crossed the border into Bulgaria where we got to our drop at Hospital Vidin. We gathered sweets, toys and Loom Bracelets in our arms and went inside to meet the ward's Paediatric Director. He explained that they were not at capacity at the moment due to the time of year because there are usually up to 35 children and young people. At present there were around a dozen. He thanked us for the aid previously delivered in years gone by and was very keen to show us the beds/cots and incubators being put to good use. This was lovely for the guys that had previously visited and donated that aid.

We presented the aid to the Director and were shown the already installed air-conditioning units which we had paid for and were funded from our donation money.Rebecca spots an air conditioning unit funded by CWUHA donations.

We walked around meeting the patients. We all fell in love with a very lively and totally gorgeous baby boy who was definitely more photogenic than the rest of us. I met a lovely little girl who had epilepsy. Her mum could not afford to travel to the capital Sofia for the treatment she needs so simply she had to come into Vidin every time she had a seizure. The doctor explained that they were struggling to control her condition. She was a lovely engaging little girl and it seemed a shame that this condition, which is relatively easily controlled, was causing her such distress. But I had a cuddle and shared some giggles with her.

We had our last cuddles and gave our last toys and bid farewell to Vidin. It was a drop everyone had enjoyed at the end of a day of mixed feelings.

Day 6 brought our second day of drops. We started at the Kindergarten for children with diabetes in the suburbs of Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. It was a lovely place. The staff were welcoming and the children, some dressed in traditional dress, treated us to a song and dance. After the long journey and difficult day before there were a lot of emotional convoy members watching their show.

A Kindergarten for children with diabetes extends a warm welcome to the team.

Not a Dry Eye in the House!

We had the kindergarten explained to us and they showed us the young children testing their blood glucose levels and having their insulin administered. They explained how they encourage the children from a young age to understand their condition and how to manage it. They also were looking to teach the children on dietary controls, for example.

The aid was delivered into the car park whilst some members of the convoy chatted to staff, and in some cases, had a little dance.

After leaving the kindergarten we were taken to the offices of Medtronic to meet Maria who was being given one of the two insulin pumps that members of the convoy had managed to get. The pumps cost over £2000. Maria was a 17 year old who had worked hard to control her condition. She explained that the pump would give her a new lease of life and would mean that she could be 'normal' and do normal things. From a medical point of view it was explained that it was important that the diabetes was controlled for Maria to ensure she would lead the life she wants to including, for example, becoming a mother in the future.

Maria gave her thanks and she was overwhelmed. She was seen to get quite upset when we left and she explained that they were 'tears of happiness', which says it all really.

Maria is given a life changing piece of medical equipment.After we bid our farewell we set off on the drive over the mountains to Kyustendil which is in Bulgaria on the border of Moldova and Serbia, to a rehabilitation centre. The centre which welcomes inpatients and day patients is there to help children with conditions which effect their mobility and sensory responses. This includes conditions such as Down's syndrome and cerebral palsy.

We arrived in the early afternoon. It was quickly clear the centre was in the process of having new windows and heating fitted. This impressed us especially when we found out that this was as a result of a successful bid for EU money!

We had a tour of the rehabilitation centre as it now is. It was pretty basic and extremely aged. They had done a brilliant job in adapting old furniture and old goods to make exercise aids.

It was difficult in a way to imagine the centre improving from its worn out state, but we were all encouraged by the obvious money which had been spent so far and the drive of the hospital director who was showing us around and was keen to show us their other site which was still in use whilst the site was being improved. The second site included day clinics with treatment facilities including pools, mud baths and hot springs. It all had the makings of being a wonderful facility but quite clearly needed a complete overhaul to make it function properly.

The hospital director was keen for those of us with ailments to try some of the mud. As we had all been munched to death by mosquitos in Romania we were all keen to slather some on and give it a go although it did smell a little!

However, of all the places I visited that place will stay in my mind for the simple reason that the aid will make so much difference but will still only scratch the surface. They obviously have a vision for how it should be and with money from the European Government and the right management it could succeed.

Then began our long journey home taking a further 5 days, we arrived into a misty Hull on the morning of the 19th September 2014.

I want to thank everyone at Simpson Millar LLP, our contacts, friends and family on behalf of the children and families we helped for their support in getting the van on the road to deliver the aid that we did. Thank you for your donations, cake buying and loom bracelet making, you are all stars!

I can’t stress enough what an amazing and important charity the CWUHA is and how we at Simpson Millar LLP should be proud of our continued support of them. From everyone on Convoy 2014 thank you again!"

If you missed the first two parts of Rebecca's journey be sure to give them a read too.


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