John Robinson, 19, is a trainee plumber from Egerton. Here he looks back on his time in Romania and explains how valuable it has been to him.
“When I first heard about the Romania part of the programme, I thought it would be an amazing experience to be involved with. I looked forward to meeting people from different walks of life and seeing how they live.
When I learned that we were going to help a community build a better future, I wanted to get involved even more.
During our time there, we helped multiple families with different projects. These included laying foundations to help a family start building their home, rendering another family’s home and building a local shop.
The most rewarding part was helping a family underpin their house to prevent it from collapsing after they’d spent three years building it. It was a real team effort to get the job completed within the time scale we had and the family even chipped in where they could, with their eldest son driving the horse and cart to get the sand for us to mix concrete. The gratitude the family showed us for saving their house from ruin made the all hard work worthwhile.
We met so many interesting people over the two weeks. John, who was an original Roma gypsy, had managed to secure a job at the charity where we were based. He was a real character who kept us laughing on a daily basis, with his impressions of an English accent and his dry sense of humour. It was interesting to hear his story of his background and how he’d managed to improve his life for his wife and children.
It was also amazing to get to know the Roma community and how welcoming they were after they’d got to know us. It was interesting to learn about their culture and the way they did things differently to us.
Whilst I was in Romania, it made me realise how we take things for granted such as having a roof over our heads, clean water and food. After seeing how happy the Roma community was despite having so little, it made me realise that we should be much more appreciative of what we have.
I also realised how much more difficult simple tasks are without the use of power tools and how important it is to work together as a team.
The main thing I enjoyed about the programme was seeing how much the Roma community warmed to us. At first they were apprehensive but towards the end they were inviting us into their homes for cups of coffee.
It was also great to be able get to know people who you normally wouldn’t get the chance to see or meet, even though we work for the same organisation.
Overall this trip has been an amazing opportunity and has taught me to value things. I’m very grateful to have been offered this experience and I hope that the programme continues to enable other people to benefit as I have done.”