Pete Brady first became aware of what was happening in Romania in 1991, after the fall of the dictator Caucesceau in 1989. The BBC were the first media group to enter the institutions for children and adults with learning disabilities, and they brought to light a harsh reality which shocked the world.
Pete Brady- “I first became aware of what was happening in Romania in 1991, after the fall of the dictator Caucesceau in 1989. The BBC were the first media group to enter the institutions for children and adults with learning disabilities, and they brought to light a harsh reality which shocked the world. The scenes demonstrated in the documentary were reminiscent of such films shown during the liberation of the concentration camps at the end of World War Two. I could not believe the conditions I was seeing in 1990’s Europe. I was already working in a care home for adults with learning disabilities, so the contrast was stark- I very quickly decided that I needed to volunteer in some way. I contacted MENCAP and soon after enrolled with a group based in Cornwall. Two months later, I was working for a month as a volunteer at Brâncovenești Castle in Transylvania. Nothing could have prepared me for what I was to see and I think the memories of that time will stay with me forever. Unfortunately, we spent a lot of our time undertaking assessments of children, which would determine if they had learning disabilities or not, and that information was then put into a filing cabinet.
On returning home, I decided that the help for these institutions really needed to be practical help, so in the following year we undertook intense fundraising, which financed a mini-bus which we filled and drove over to Brâncovenești Castle to donate. The following year we set up dental care for The Castle and for a couple of years we employed a staff member in a small group home, whose job it was to take toddlers out of their cots and to play with them, in order to reduce the effects of institutionalisation.
In 1999, I decided that we needed to be registered as a charity, in order to make us a legitimate organisation, and thus greatly assist us in the fundraising process.
We continued to offer practical assistance over the years to Brâncovenești Castle, as well as a nearby hospital and a number of small group homes. In addition to this, we have offered continued support for a family living in a forest in Mureș, who have a daughter, ‘Anna’ who is severely physically and mentally disabled.
Five years ago we extended our support and expertise to Bulgaria. I am particularly proud of the fact that, having watched Kate Blewet’s
BBC film on the Mogilino institution, that we were at Mogilino two weeks later to provide them with gifts and support for Christmas. On this same visit, along with Becky Cooper and my daughter Jessica Brady, we found the Samuil institution for 110 adults with learning disabilities near Razgrad and we have been providing practical support to that institution ever since.
Whenever I am asked ‘Why do you bother’ my response is usually ‘Because we can’ and because I believe we need to raise awareness in Romania and Bulgaria that these places exist and that the people living there should not be forgotten.