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Raluca Bragarea

Head of Communications, Bucharest

Part of UK in Romania

8th May 2014 Bucharest, Romania

Great Britons in Romania – BRIAN DOUGLAS

Today’s guest blogger is Kent Bolton, Hon. Secretary/Treasurer, RCHF (UK) and Hon. Treasurer for the sister foundation in the Netherlands, Stichting RCHF, who tells the story of one of the British volunteers making a difference in Romania. Here is his account:

Brian Douglas first traveled to Romania in early 1994, delivering much needed aid, including medical supplies. He was so distressed by the conditions in which so many lived that he decided to make his life’s work doing what he can to improve the situation and moved to live in Iasi in October 1994.  For 20 years Brian has dedicated his life to the welfare of those Romanians in greatest need.

Brian worked hands on as a volunteer at an old orphanage for children with difficulties. In 1997 he was invited to help at a pediatric Tuberculosis  hospital in Bucium near Iasi. In the 5 years Brian worked there, with support from UK donors, he created a playroom for the children and he modernised the deplorable bathroom area and the ancient and inefficient laundry.

Brian Douglas - speech at the INSPIR medical international conference
Speaking at a medical international conference

The hospital was closed in 2002 and the children were moved to a new modern TB unit in Iasi. This gave Brian the opportunity to devote more time to TB awareness and prevention. Romania has the highest incidence rate of TB throughout Europe and there is a lot of ignorance surrounding this largely preventable disease so Brian started to design posters and leaflets and took them out to schools and those living in rural areas of Iasi county to help educate the children and general public about TB. Word about Brian’s work quickly spread and for the past 12 years he has worked closely with the Public Health Office and the University Clinic Hospital of Pneumology in Iasi in regard to tuberculosis prevention.

Brian has worked on numerous other projects. Such as was the case with Dorohoi in the Botosani county where, one night in 2010, the town was hit with a wall of muddy water. Brian was there within 4 hours helping people to safety. He contacted friends in Hungary and within days two huge articulated lorries arrived carrying bottled water, food, beds, mattresses, and other vital items for the worst affected families. The Romanian Children’s Humanitarian Foundation (RCHF) purchased 12 tents to “house” families through the winter of 2010 and through 2011 until new dwellings were constructed. Since then Brian has retained strong links with the people of Dorohoi, and in 2013 he created a playroom at the Municipal Hospital for children on the pediatric ward.

Brian has a good working relationship with the Romanian Inspectorate of Police in Suceava county in projects that attempt to address adolescent problems including the dangers of narcotics, taking the view that “prevention is better than a cure”.

Group of people on the road
Fitting reflectors on carts

Brian’s latest initiative is a life saver! Brian became aware of the loss of human and animal life caused by vehicles rear ending the horse and carts used by so many, in the dark and in bad weather. Brian came up with the idea of putting reflectors on the back of the horse-carts. SPANA (The Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad) in the UK provided initial funding and Brian managed to have produced 4,250 reflectors at the cost of 1 GBP each from a firm in Suceava. Those are being fitted by Police officers at a fast rate and Brian himself is stopping and fitting reflectors to any cart he sees while out on his travels! At least another £8,000 is needed to complete every horse and cart in Suceava County.

I would like to salute you Brian for your selfless dedication and hard work, your seemingly boundless untiring energy for those least fortunate in Romania. You are a great ambassador and a truly Great Briton in Romania!

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About Raluca Bragarea

I joined the British Embassy in 2004, and have ever since enjoyed one of the most diverse and challenging jobs as a professional communicator, from partnering up with MTV Romania…

I joined the British Embassy in 2004, and have ever since
enjoyed one of the most diverse and challenging jobs as a professional
communicator, from partnering up with MTV Romania to promote the UN
anti-poverty agenda to handling Prince Charles’ press conference on a
hill top in picturesque Transylvania. One of the highlights working for
the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has been the introduction of an
internship scheme in the Embassy; we bring along students from various
backgrounds to help us deliver our objectives while they get a unique
opportunity to learn hands-on about diplomacy.
I am a former TV journalist, specialising in foreign affairs, and a
Fulbright scholar. I hold a Master of Arts in Information and
Communication Studies with California State University at Chico.
I am a major cafe latte fan and like to collect hand-painted icons.
My other hobbies include travelling and watching movies with friends,
particularly Quentin Tarantino’s. The latest memorable film I watched
was District 9, a superb science fiction with a social twist – anybody
seen it?

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