Last week we reported on ‘‘superwoman’’ Anne Wilkinson of Linlithgow - a woman on a mission - a dedicated and heartfelt mission to help the destitute, the dispossessed and the desperate in Romania.
Anne, who, after visiting the country to train some family and pregnancy support workers at Romanian charity, Primul Pas, saw first-hand the conditions and abject poverty some families were living in, found she just couldn’t ignore it and walk away.
We at the Journal and Gazette knew exactly what Anne felt and decided to launch an appeal that will support her voluntary work with babies and young families living on the breadline in Romania.
Anne needs to fill a van with much-needed baby clothing, powdered milk and nappies for new-born’s through to clothing for children aged 5/6.
The van will leave Linlithgow at the end of September to drive overland into Europe to deliver the desperately needed donations.
And, this is where you, our Journal and Gazette readers, can play an important part in this appeal. We have teamed up with West Lothian Council and Falkirk Community Trust to provide drop-off points for the public.
Anne said: “I can’t believe how this has taken off from something as simple as a chat with a reporter.
‘‘To find the Journal and Gazette taking up my cause and supporting my work with Romanian families is a dream come true for me.
‘‘Never in my wildest dreams did I ever consider that my very modest attempts to support families in a country where some of those living in poverty have nothing, would have snowballed to where we are now - a formal appeal supported by my local paper.”
Anne, who has been involved with Primul Pas in Romania since 2008, has now managed to send enough clothing and baby food to help several families, who would have otherwise had to go without.
Anne told our reporter: “Some adults starve for 48 hours with no food just so the children can be fed.’’
She said: ‘‘It doesn’t take much to tip a family who are just coping financially into despair and an inability to provide - this is where Primul Pas then step in.”
Anne said during her visits it struck her as to the enormity of the task ahead as families struggled to keep food on the table and clothes on their childrens backs.
She said: “I visited a family with a 10-year-old boy who wasn’t at school.
‘‘When I asked why, I was told it was because the only shirt and trousers he had were being washed.”
Anne said that this was the turning point for her as she realised that even small amounts of help can make a huge difference - an extra shirt means a child can go to school - and can be given a hot meal!
“Some families can’t afford to buy nappies so are trying to recycle old ones. What could be more of a basic need for a child than a nappy?”
During a visit Anne saw children that had been abandoned by their parents because they were unable to support them.
She said: “I was heartbroken every time I left to come home knowing that with just a tiny amount of extra help some families lives could be made 100 per cent better. How could I not do something about that?”
“Since the article appeared last week, I have been overwhelmed with the calls I’ve had offering help with everything from donations of hand-knitted baby goods, people wanting to learn more about the charity and what part I play to those prepared to help run fundraising events.
“Never did I think this would grow the way it has. I always just assumed I would plug away doing my wee bit to help those less fortunate - it’s a dream come true.”
West Lothian Provost Tom Kerr said: “I am delighted West Lothian Council is able to support this worthwhile appeal by using Linlithgow Library as a drop-off area for donations.
‘‘Linlithgow has a very good track record of supporting Romanian children with Gean Hodsdon carrying out a great deal of good work previously and Anne Wilkinson leading this appeal now.
“I think it’s also very important to thank the Linlithgow Gazette for backing Ann’s bid to help disadvantaged children in Romania.”
You can donate used or new baby and toddler clothing, powdered milk products and packs of nappies to the appeal by delivering them to:
Bo’ness Recreation Centre
Bo’ness EH51 9QB
Monday to Sunday: 9am-9pm
7 The Vennel,
Linlithgow. EH49 7EX
Monday, Wednesday and Friday: 8.30am - 5.30pm
Tuesday and Thursday: 8.30am-8pm
Journal and Gazette office
Gateway Business Park
Grangemouth FK3 8WX
Monday to Wednesday: 9am-5pm