History

Our History

1989

Christmas Day

The news hit the world that Romania’s president Nicolae Ceauseescu and his wife Elena were executed after they were found guilty of crimes against the state.  The world’s press flew to Romania to report on the events and no one was expecting to find the shocking scenes found in the country’s orphanages. Over his 21 years reign as President, Ceausescu had urged his citizens to have as many babies as possible and if they were unable to look after them, he reassured them that the state would take care of them. People handed over their babies in good faith and ignorance. The state orphanages were not funded to support the number of babies in its care. Hundreds of babies were existing in appalling conditions, with limited resources and funding. The life expectancy of these babies was low.

1991

Babies of Romania is created

One of the reporters who landed in Romania, was Ireland’s James Dillon. Greatly moved by what he saw in Romania, James returned to Ireland determined to find support and make a difference. With a small number of volunteers he collected aid in the form of food and clothing and donated them to the orphanages under the new entity of ‘Babies of Romania.’ To support Babies of Romania, large numbers of volunteers travelled from Ireland and the Uk, to Romania to work as carers in orphanages in Nicoresti (Galati County) and Nehru Voda (Constanta County)

1994

Sustainable Development

The emergency relief offered by Babies of Romania had progressed to sustainable development.  They funded a programme of educational and therapeutic programmes for disabled children and young people living in three Placement Centres in orphanages

2002

Health Action Overseas is created

Babies of Romania transformed into Heath Action Overseas.With the original charity in Ireland and a sister charity in Romania.  The first group home was established.

2007

New Challenges

As the babies who were destined for infant mortality survived, thanks to HAO, a new dilemma was faced.  As these young people reached adulthood they could no longer live in the orphanages and they would be transferred to the next institution which was an adult institution, which could be compared to British Victorian institutions and were locally known as ‘mental’ institutions.  HAO wanted to divert the children from this horror and provide a means to enable them to live independently.

2011

HAOUK Created

HAOUK was formed to support the young adults in their independent living arrangements, whilst also working alongside Romania government to persuade them to transfer their funding from state run institutions into a more independent model of supported housing.