Hospices of Hope: Celebrating 20 years of palliative care in Romania

Graham Perolls, Founder and Director, Hospices of Hope, a UK-based charity that supports the development of hospice and palliative care in Romania, Moldova and Serbia, gives the first in a series of posts about HOSPICE Casa Sperantei

Graham Perolls

Graham Perolls is interviewed at the 20th anniversary celebrations in Brasov

On 29 June 2012 in Brasov, Romania, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of HOSPICE Casa Sperantei, the country’s first hospice. Since 1992, staff and volunteers at HOSPICE Casa Sperantei have cared for more than 15,000 terminally ill adults and children and trained 12,000 doctors and nurses from Romania, Moldova, Serbia and other countries in Southeast Europe. To mark this special milestone, colleagues from Romania and I are delighted to contribute to the blog this week to share our story.

The story begins…
I can’t say that raising funds for hospice care in Romania was ever part of my life plan! Like so many things, it just evolved. The first time I heard the word ‘hospice’ was in 1978, when my father was dying with cancer. He was admitted to St Christopher’s Hospice in London and the wonderful care he received there inspired me to set up a hospice service in my home town of Dartford, Kent. Back in 1975, I had visited Romania as a tourist and one evening, in the Transylvanian city of Brasov, a chance encounter with a young couple led to a lasting friendship and a deep interest in the country. In those days, Romania was in the grip of communism, and during several further visits in the seventies and late eighties I watched a gradual deterioration of people’s living standards. Then, a few days after the fall of the dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, in December 1989, I visited the country again and this time saw for myself the terrible things that had begun to be revealed on our television screens, particularly the thousands of abandoned and undernourished children in state orphanages.

But it was a visit to the cancer hospital in Brasov that really moved me. I literally watched a young man dying in terrible pain. There was no morphine: no one to ease his pain or even to sit beside him. This was the moment that planted a seed in my mind to start thinking about helping to start a hospice in Brasov. I went back to the trustees of my hospice in Dartford and asked if they would allow me to raise funds for Romania. They said ‘yes’… the rest is history.

Find out more…

  • Click here to view a short film about Hospice Casa Sperantei.
  • Click here for more information on Hospices of Hope.

COMING UP… Please follow the blog this week and learn more about the current work and future plans of  HOSPICE Casa Sperantei.

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