Sister Rose Carmel McNamara (photo L), member of the Institute of Our Lady of Mercy, came on holiday to Romania in March 2000. She quickly became aware of the problems of the marginalised and with the blessing of her congregation returned to Bucharest in October 2000.
Initially, she worked with children living with AIDS, teaching them English and befriending them in numerous ways. Other areas of vulnerability soon became evident and in November 2000, a number of shoe boxes filled with food came her way. There was no problem finding people who urgently needed them. Within a short time all were distributed with the help of Mrs. Elizabeth Bohm, co-founder of the association.
In the early days, Mrs. Bohm made her car available in an effort to assess genuine needs. Gradually, volunteers emerged and the work load was shared. As time went by, the necessity for an association was evident to respond to the increasing needs. This led to the foundation of the Association of Our Lady of Mercy in Romania.
Today, The Association of Our Lady of Mercy in Romania consists of a multinational group of volunteers, supporting senior citizens (with small pensions) and low income families who are struggling to rear and educate their children.
The Association of Our Lady of Mercy in Romania:
President: Rose Carmel Mc Namara RSM
Members: Mrs. Lisa Bohm, Mrs. Ioana Toma, Dr. Monica Munoz, Ciodas – Ciurdariu Mihaela Maria, Ana Dinu, Ivan Vasile Balan
Volunteers: The Association currently has many volunteers ages ranging from seventeen to seventy plus.
Sister Rose, you first came to Romania on holiday in March 2000, and you’ve never left it since then. Why? What are the reasons that made you stay here and put all your energy, passion and dedication to setting up the Association of Our Lady of Mercy in Romania?
I saw the poverty in the country; many people young and old were searching the bins. I observed that they ate whatever food they found. I have a passion for the poor as a sister of Mercy and felt compelled to make an effort to help the poor. I felt that even if one person was helped that it would make a difference. Initially I taught HIV positive children within a foundation Romanian/British. As time progressed I was drawn into other areas and recognised the need for an established NGO.
Looking back to the 15-year old history of the Association of Our Lady of Mercy in Romania, how would you characterize its evolution?
It took time to set up the association. Eventually all the t`s were crossed and the i`s dotted in May 2005. Our first gathering with our seniors comprised three persons, now we help 62 seniors and twenty-two families. The evolution was a natural process.
How many volunteers are involved in the Association and put their souls in helping the people in need?
We have 15 regular Romanian volunteers and numerous ex
What is the main engine that has fueled the enthusiasm and dedication of your team to get involved in so many wonderful projects aimed at supporting elderly people and other persons with special needs?
The conviction that everyone is entitled to DIGNITY.
How do you think that people with big souls, like you, and
The proof is in the volunteering. My volunteers have been with me for many years. The Romanian volunteers were aware of my ambition to help people in need and this as it were became infectious!! They had a desire to do the same.
All the projects, carried here by you and your team under the umbrella of the Association of Our Lady of Mercy in Romania, have certainly been soul projects. However, I presume that there is, at least, one special project that is representative for your satisfaction degree given by the fulfilled duty sense. Could you name such a project that has touched you in a special way?
One special project helps a sick child suffering from Krabbes disease. After some years the mother has had to return to work. Another of our beneficiaries now takes care of the child helping the mother when she is not available. The bond now between the families is great and 2 families with exceptional needs have work.
To conclude this interview aimed to show a joint Irish-Romanian successful story in the field of social responsibility and human solidarity, what could you tell us, about your future projects?
My dream is to find Mr./Mrs. RIGHT to carry forward our dreams. Dignity for each is the core.