A Borehamwood mother is giving up her job helping homeless people to spend three months working with orphans in the Romanian town of Brasov.
Mother-of-one Michelle Curran, 44, of Lombardy Way, is fulfilling a long-held ambition to devote her time to the orphans, whose plight was widely reported in the media in the Nineties.
The images of neglected children tied to their cots remained in Mrs Curran’s memory long after they were first beamed into her living room, and this year she will finally be on hand to help.
“This is something I’ve always wanted to do,” she said. “I had a young child myself when I first saw it on TV and saw that she had such a different life from the orphans. It does pull on the heart strings.
“Fergie went out there for a documentary recently and to be quite honest we thought things had changed but there are still children tied and left alone all day.
“They’re just so understaffed in the orphanages they have to leave them in their cots. I’ll be an extra pair of hands for them.”
After the downfall of president Nicolae Ceausescu's regime in 1989, it emerged that thousands of children were languishing in state institutions in Romania without adequate care.
Many of them were not actually orphans, but children born during Ceaucescu’s drive to increase the country’s population and abandoned by their parents, who could not support them.
Mrs Curran will help in a hospital where abandoned babies are cared for.
“They want people to show them affection because they don’t interact with people,” she said.
“I’ll also be working in a day care centre for children from the gypsy community. Many of them don’t have basic skills, like reading and writing, so I’ll be teaching them.”
Mrs Curran is leaving her job in Shenwood Court homeless hostel, in Green Street, to travel to Romania on February 16.
The cost of the programme, organised by Projects Abroad, is about £2,500, and although none of the money goes directly to the orphanages, Mrs Curran intends to raise extra money for essential items such as nappies.
Projects Abroad uses the money raised by volunteers to fund its support staff and administration costs, as well as paying local families to host the volunteers.
A spokesman for Projects Abroad said the company’s charitable arm makes annual donations to projects around the world.