A TEAM of youngsters from a York secondary school have taken a life-changing trip to Romania.

About 26, Year 10 students from Manor CE Academy travelled to Romania to assist with the work of the Cry in the Dark charity and further develop their leadership skills acquired through the Archbishop of York’s Young Leaders Awards. This was Manor’s seventh trip to Romania. Cry in the Dark has a longstanding relationship with the school and the Hope Learning Trust, York, which Manor belongs to.

During their time there, the students visited Casa Lumina, Cry in the Dark’s residential home for young adults with learning and physical needs, the charity’s Day Centre for young adults with life-limiting illnesses and a state-run institute for adults with learning and physical needs. At each venue, the students spent time with the adults and young people, talking, listening, interacting and enjoying time with them.

The Manor students also visited Negustralui, a Roma Village where they worked with children, playing games with them, face painting, hair braiding and having fun. Negustralui is very remote, with no running water, very little access to education and minimal interaction with the surrounding area.

Lawrence Rab, drama teacher and lay chaplain at Manor, said: “The trip to Romania is always an incredible, yet eye-opening and humbling experience for me and particularly for the students. They are often shocked to see the poor conditions in which some people live, some of them just metres away from very expensive, lavish buildings. Witnessing this does drive the students on to help those less fortunate than ourselves, even in a small way. For me, the highlights of this year’s trips were the completion of a building project to construct a concrete bridge for a family whose daughter has cerebral palsy. In the winter they used to struggle to get her wheelchair out of the house due to the mud and rain, so this will make a world of difference to them. It was also amazing to see the new Hospice Lumina, the first dedicated paediatric in-patient unit in the whole of Romania for children and their families in need of respite and care. Last time I was in Romania, this was just a building site, so it was great to see it completed and fully functional.”

Many students who have been to Romania before, have since gone on a two-month volunteering trip over the summer and past students, including Anya Arslan now studying Religious Education at York St John University, have also returned to Romania accompanying current students on the trips.