by Marinela Rotariu, CEO Emanuel Hospice

Looking back in time 25 years, to February 1996. Emanuel Hospice was not yet registered as an organisation. We did not have a building, staff, or payroll. What we did have was a special calling from God and the insatiable conviction that we should do whatever was necessary to assist the cancer patients that had been discharged from the hospital oncology department. The oncology doctors had sent them home to die. They had been told, “There is nothing more we can do for you. Your condition is beyond the scope of medical science.” There we were – two enthusiastic young women, one a medical intern and the other a nurse with six years of experience at the County Hospital working with haematology patients. We just had a stethoscope, a bag of medical supplies – syringes, needles, bandages, and a list of about thirty terminal cancer patients.

We also had God’s assurance that this was what He wanted us to do with our lives. We established a meeting place at the tram station from which we travelled by public transportation to the patients’ homes (once we were able to establish the routes we could take to most efficiently get to the places we needed to be each day). The purpose of the visits was very precise: we were to alleviate the suffering of the sick and comfort the relatives that were maintaining a bedside vigil, using as our care model what we had observed and practised in Brasov, by our colleagues from House of Hope Hospice. On the physical side, our concern was to recognize, assess, evaluate and identify their worst type of pain and relieve it. When they were in severe physical pain, we typically could control it by adjusting their morphine dosage.

In some instances, their severe pain was psychological and/or emotional and/or spiritual. Think of the pain a mother experiences, knowing she will be leaving her children motherless, or of a young man stressed over the thought of his young wife being alone to raise their child without the anticipated income for their support. And there would be the unsaved who had no comfort on their prospects for eternity. While we did not have painkillers for this pain, we were prepared to listen and offer support and emotional or spiritual counselling.

From the very beginning, we always asked God to be with us in this work. We knew that without Him, we could not be effective. We relied upon Him to provide the necessary resources – financial, emotional and spiritual, without which there was no possibility of fulfilling what we knew was our mission. His goodness, generosity, faithfulness and blessings have constantly overwhelmed us over these past 25 years. Words are inadequate to express how grateful we are for the way He has protected, cared for and provided for us over these twenty-five years and we unconditionally trust that we will have His support for so long as we continue to serve Him.