A Horsham father who set up and runs a charity for Romanian orphans welcomed one of its youngest children to England last week.
Forget-me-not Foundation Romania (FMN) organised a visit to Horsham for 12-year-old Costy Pana, their youngest supported child, who was taken into their care when he was just a two-year-old.
The charity, for orphans with special needs, was founded ten years ago by Simon Long, who lives in Guildford Road with his wife and three sons, and is also managing director at Novatron Scientific in London Road.
He said: “Romania is a very poor country where children being raised in social care are often surviving on less than £1 per day for food and have little interaction with the outside world.
“Financial help gives these children a far better standard of living, better diet and pays for staff to help them with stimulation and education .
“In the state orphanages I’ve seen only two staff available to care for up to 50 kids due to the limited funds for staffing costs.”
During Costy’s trip to England, his first outside of Romania, organised to mark the organisation’s tenth anniversary, he visited London, Chessington World of Adventures and the South Coast.
He stayed with Simon and his wife Daniela, and their three sons Robert, Harry and Edward, and visited Simon’s parents Carole and Mike Long in Mannings Heath, who are also trustees of FMN.
The foundation was set up in 2002 to help orphans with learning difficulties in Focsani, eastern Romania, providing a home for abandoned children, as well as education, therapy and a better quality of life to help them develop and lead as normal lives as possible.
Costy was taken in along with four other abandoned children with learning difficulties, but now the charity is launching a children’s support centre for assisting young people with occupational therapy in September.
Simon was brought up in a family that supported disadvantaged children - his mother Carole operated the Children’s Country Holiday Fund for deprived London children in the 1980s.
He first went to Romania 13 years ago for a church project for children with HIV and felt there was not enough being done for disabled children there.
His company, Novatron, which specialises in humidity, light and moisture testing equipment, and has a diverse client base serving businesses such as such as Glaxosmith-kline and the Royal Household, provides around 80 per cent of the funding for FMN.
Simon added: “For the remainder we have regular donations plus I’ve held fund raising events including running the London marathon, a vintage car run to Monaco, and an iron man triathlon which I completed last year.”
Anyone interested in supporting the charity should contact Simon on 01403 754416 or email email@example.com
For more information visit www.fmn.home.ro