George Hook, Patron of the Comber Foundation:
“Having accompanied volunteers from Comber to Romania, I have witnessed the tireless work they do in trying to close down state run institutions in Giurgiu County. This requires help from you at perhaps the most difficult economic times. Please find a little time in your heart for young adults that perhaps unknowingly will owe you a debt of gratitude for the rest of their lives.”
The Vodafone World of Difference UK Programme gives 500 people the chance to work for their dream charity, and get paid. Over the years it has helped hundreds of people donate their skills and experience to the charities of their choice. This year Emma Hassard from Lisburn, County Antrim, was successful in her application to work to raise funds for the Comber Foundation.
The Comber Foundation is a home grown charity, founded in 1991 in Comber, County Down, which seeks to improve the lives of disabled children and adults in Romania and Eastern Europe. One of the many ways which the Comber Foundation practically improves lives is by forming group homes, these homes offer young adults with intellectual and physical disabilities the opportunity to live within a community, outside of an institution, for the very first time since birth.
Emma Hassard has extensive experience working in the voluntary sector in marketing, raising the profile of charities and also helping to raise funds. In 2012 Emma organised a Dinner Dance, Golf Classic and a pop-up charity boutique raising almost £10,000 for the Comber Foundation. The World of Difference programme will enable Emma to work part time for four months to continue to raise much needed funds to ensure that the Comber Foundation is able to continue to make a real and lasting positive difference to the lives of disabled and disadvantaged people in Romania and Eastern Europe.
Emma Hassard reflected on the World of Difference Programme:
‘I am delighted that my application for the World of Difference Programme was successful, enabling me to offer support to the many dedicated volunteers without whom the Comber Foundation would simply not be able to function. The World of Difference programme will enable me to raise much needed funds to support the many disadvantaged and disabled children and young people in Romania with whom the Comber Foundation so tirelessly works. I am truly excited to see what we will be able to achieve over the next four months!’
Carrie Garavan, Executive Director of the Comber Foundation, also commented on the programme:
‘We at the Comber Foundation were delighted to hear that Emma had won a place in the World of Difference Programme 2013. Comber Foundation is an Irish charitable trust set up in 1991 to improve the quality of life of children living in orphanages in Romania. We believe large-scale institutional care is unacceptable and remain committed to supporting the right of all individuals with disabilities to live in the community. Most of Comber's work is located in Giurgiu County, Romania. Giurgiu is an economically disadvantaged county and has limited NGO activity or international support. It is the region with the second poorest socio-economic indicators in Romania and has the least developed health services in the country (Price Waterhouse Coopers 2004).Within the coming months, Comber in partnership with Motivation Romania will transfer residents from long term institutionalisation to lovely new group homes within a community setting.
Emma is a social innovator, passionate about working with the charity and her creativity will go a long way to achieving The Comber Foundation’s mission which is to build a better future for children and adults with disabilities - a future without orphanages.’
If you would like more information on how you could support the work of the Comber Foundation then please call Emma Hassard, Fundraising Co-ordinator, on 0845 301 1057, or go to www.comber.ie
To read Emma's blog on her work on the World of Difference programme please click here
Butterfly Vintage Boutique has now closed. Thank you to everyone who supported the shop by donating items, volunteering to work in the boutique, and of course by purchasing items. The Butterfly Vintage Boutique was opened in partnership with the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and we also thank the whole school community for supporting the Boutique.
All proceeds from the Butterfly Vintage Boutique has helped the Comber Foundation to continue to improve the lives of disabled children and young people in Romania & Eastern Europe.
To see photos from the official launch of the Butterfly Vintage Boutique with Kate Smith, please click here
Oct 3rd 2012
Dear President, [of Giurgiu County Council]
I am sending this letter to inform you of the excellent visit that I had to Giurgiu yesterday, where I was received by Mr. Muscalu, Public Administrator, and Dr. Teodora Avram, Director of Social Services. The objective of my visit was to see personally a project which aims to offer protected homes and day services for the former residents of orphanages. This project has been developed by the Comber Foundation, an Irish NGO, in cooperation with your county authorities and Romanian volunteers. Several Irish organizations, including Comber, had been involved in such activities in Romania since 1990 – 1991.
I was very impressed with what I have seen in Giurgiu, especially the human approach towards individuals who have been tragically impacted by the negligence of the past. I observed that these individuals have now obtained the dignity they deserve, a well deserved and appropriate alternative to dehumanizing institutionalization. The commitment of the social support staff was really enthusiastic. I know that you will be impressed when you personally see the project. I consider that this project is a wonderful example of cooperation between civil society from Ireland and Romania. As far as I understand, Giurgiu County is the leader in developing this enlightened approach in Romania.
I hope that this partnership between our two countries will continue to prosper and develop in the future.
On October 25th 2012 at the “Ion Vinea” Cultural Centre, Giurgiu, four residents within DGASPC performed in a show called “1, 2, 3, 4, Kids all of you come to theatre”.
The show was the pinnacle of three months of rehearsal under the supervision of Mr. Toma Vasile. He worked closely with several teenagers but in the end he selected only four to perform: Adela State, Gabriela Stoicescu, Stefan Nagy and Viorel Iordan. These last three are all residents of Comber apartments in Giurgiu.
The project was a great success (more than 60 spectators were present), due to the partnership between Sport and Youth County Direction, Social Welfare and Child Protection General Direction (DGASPC) and “Ion Vinea” Cultural Centre.
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