Romania-bound Christy Hodgson is appealing to Keighley businesses to help the country's orphans.

The 23-year-old graduate from Cowling heads for the impoverished former communist state for her second spell in a children's home next month. But before setting off she needs to raise the £1,000 cost of her six-month stay in Romania.

Christy headed for the Balkans last March after leaving university in Wolver-hampton. She was drawn to Romania by images on TV.

She was shortlisted for six months as a co-ordinator for Oxfordshire Relief Fund for Romania, a charity which provides support and equipment for orphans in the impoverished country.

But after returning to her home in Dick Lane in September, Christy was 'really miserable' and longed to return to Romania to see the children. Now the charity has asked her back for a second spell in the city of Craiova, 100 miles west of the Romanian capital Bucharest. Her tasks will involve distributing aid to children in the orphanage and - more importantly - giving the care which the Romanians do not give the youngsters.

"Most of the orphans are gypsies and the Romanian orphanage workers do not care for them very well," Christy explains. "They shave the children's heads for no reason and carry sticks around to beat them.

"If any new clothes arrive for the orphans, the next day everyone in the village is wearing them.

"The children's future is not very bright. Many have HIV or AIDS, others suffer from stunted growth. Because of the way they are treated in the orphanages, many end up in mental institutes, or on the streets as prostitutes."

If it seems a depressing picture, Christy says there is hope. Attitudes to the orphans are slowly changing, particularly among Romania's younger generation.

"Life in Romania can prove disheartening at times, but it is also very rewarding," she says.

"There are things in life worth more than money. Working with these children puts everything else into perspective."

Local firms or organisations wishing to help Christy can write to her at Braemar, Dick Lane, Cowling.

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