Anne Wilkinson is a woman on a mission – a mission to help the destitute, the dispossessed and the desperate in Romania.
Anne (59), from Springfield, Linlithgow, works as a co-ordinator at St Columba’s Hospice in Edinburgh but in 2008 was a project co-ordinator at the Falkirk Pregnancy Service, an organisation which provided counselling and a telephone helpline service for women.
She received an email from a charity in Romania called Primul Pas, which provided the same service but needed help training its volunteers.
Ann and three colleagues flew out and ran a five-day course which allowed Primul Pas to offer a more directed service to women who had suffered miscarriages, had abortions or were struggling to clothe and feed children.
Ann said: “It was a sheer joy and privilege to be able to help those people out. They had a huge thirst for knowledge in how to support women.”
Anne was horrified by what she saw in Romania – children as young as five living rough in the railway station, being cared for by elder siblings, who themselves were probably only 10 years old.
And nobody appeared to bother; they simply ignored the obvious problem.
She said: “That visit had a huge impact on me, poverty was rampant and suddenly the realisation hit me that I couldn’t simply walk away.”
On her return to the UK, Anne kept in touch with the charity helping where she could. In 2010 Primul Pas was forced to expand, providing families in Romania with clothing for their children, nappies and formula milk.
In 2012, Anne returned to Romania – taking as much baby clothing and milk powder as she could.
Anne also took £500 with her which had been raised by Linlithgow’s St John’s Evangelical Church.
“The charity had been providing families with tangible help for a year or so,” explained Anne, “and I wanted to see if there was still more I could do or if I was biting off more than I could chew.
“I visited a family with a 10-year-old boy who wasn’t at school because the only shirt and trousers he had were being washed.”
This was the turning point for Anne as she realised that a little could make a huge difference – an extra shirt meant a child could go to school and be fed.
She started her appeal properly in 2012 and has now arranged to take a van full of clothes, nappies and baby food back to Romania in September.
She already has donations which will quarter fill the van as well as £2,000 in cash.
But she is appealing to our readers to get behind her too.If you can help call Anne on 07543634441.