Volunteers from an Isle of Man charity are to travel to Romania later this month to deliver essential aid, with support from the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.
Hands of Hope was established to provide aid to communities in an area of the eastern European country roughly the same size as the island.
The charity was formed after Ruth and Chris Baker visited a Romanian orphanage in 2003 and decided they wanted to help families living in poverty. Volunteers have since visited the country multiple times a year, sometimes staying for months at a time.
The Steam Packet Company has regularly supported the journeys by assisting with the cost of travel to and from the island. Volunteers will depart Manx shores in mid-February and take aid in the form of clothes, shoes, toiletries and educational materials.
In addition, they will be transporting second-hand IT equipment, donated by Microgaming PlayItForward, which will be used to set up a secondary school with computers and WIFI access.
They will then return to the Isle of Man in April before setting off again in May to continue their work until October.
Ruth explained: ‘Ever since our first visit we have seen a country where there are many disadvantaged and vulnerable people and have wanted to help. Unemployment is high and many of the families live in poor circumstances and are trapped in a cycle of poverty.
‘As a charity we provide homes, social care, educational support, distribute aid and food parcels and encourage poor and marginalised families to support themselves as much as possible, enabling them to be more self-sufficient.’
Ruth says education forms a key part of the charity’s objectives.
‘There is no question that by enabling the children to have an improved education, they will be better equipped to get jobs, reach their full potential and support themselves as adults,’ she continued.
‘By supporting children’s education in mainstream schools and a centre for children with additional needs, circumstances can only improve and that is what we intend to do with our trips this year.
‘While the journey to Romania takes three days and the costs are mainly covered by us personally, of course we could not be without the support of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company. Over the years it has generously assisted with ferry crossings, which has been a great help and I’d like to thank all the staff for their continued support.’
Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward added: ‘Hands of Hope is a small but hard-working charity which we are more than pleased to help once again. It is carrying out such important work helping families living in poverty to stay together, and delivering essential aid, and the effort the volunteers show is tremendous.’