A Shropshire-based soldier and his wife are putting smiles on the faces of orphaned children and adults in Romania, bringing Christmas gifts, clothing and medicines from the UK.
Warrant Officer 2 David Hill lives in Down Hatherley near Innsworth in Gloucestershire with his wife Sarah. Apart from last year, due to Covid-19 restrictions, David and Sarah have travelled to Romania to visit orphanages in Bucharest and Bacau for the last 12 Christmases.
Mostly now of adult age, these are the children who were abandoned during the Ceausescu dictatorship and all are suffering mental and physical disabilities and conditions. Sadly, since the last time David and Sarah visited in 2019, three of the boys they have got to know through regular visits have died.
Sarah has been visiting the orphanages twice a year for 25 years and met her future husband on a plane to Romania during an Easter visit. In the run-up to Christmas every year, David and Sarah raise funds to buy gifts, clothing and medicines as well as paying for extra baggage so they can take lots of donations.
They also hire transport to take children out of the orphanages to see the local Christmas lights and decorations. David will typically don a Santa Claus costume to help lift the spirits of children and adults, including staff, at the orphanages.
This year David and Sarah have raised over £2,500 through fund-raising, including contributions from the sale of raffle tickets and donations from colleagues at HQ 11 Signal & West Midlands Brigade, based at Donnington near Telford. The couple recently flew to Romania.
David’s military role is with a UK Ops team at the Army’s Joint Military Command in the West Midlands which provides support to civilian agencies with emergencies such as floods, fires and Covid-19. He said: “Sarah and I are really looking forward to going back to the orphanages and seeing children and adults who we have got to know so well over the years.
“They have had very tough lives but it’s lovely to see them and the staff smile when we join in with their Christmas celebrations. I would like to thank my Army colleagues for their generosity that has helped to fund our trip this Christmas.”
The orphanages are run by The Missionaries of Charity Nuns who were formed by Saint (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta. It is to their charity that David and Sarah donate money raised from the sale of raffle tickets.
The orphanages also support local village families who live in conditions of dire poverty. With winter biting, these families will be welcomed to the orphanages for food and gifts.