Created to raise funds for a child with leukaemia, the Offer Life charity is now involved in many social cases.
We often find ourselves receiving e-mails signalling a social case or a health problem. We hit the Like button of various posts on social networks telling us we can thus help a case and that every Like matters. But how is it like to start from a case that moves you and end up setting up an association that helps people, and then offer your help again and again, striving to find legal ways to support those in need and create a functional volunteer and donation system? This is the story that we will learn about today. A story of our time, with two main characters. One of them is Carmen Uscatu, president of the “Daruieste Viata /Offer Life” association, and its vice president, Oana Gheorghiu. The latter told us about how this association was set up:
“The Offer Life Association was initially set up without a clear purpose, out of the need to help a child suffering from leukaemia. We had learnt about the case via an e-mail, but we did not know the child in person. It all happened in 2009. I don’t know why this case made such a great impression on us, but I remember that 150 thousand euros were needed for the child to be treated abroad. We realized it was impossible to gather so much money in such a short time, so that the child could be offered the treatment he needed. We found out about a legal provision allowing for those suffering from this disease to go abroad for transplant. It was a long battle. We later got to meet the child and his family and we managed to get financing for him and for another seven people who had submitted their files to the Health Ministry for approval. After the child went abroad for transplant we expected to be very happy for having tried to save a life. We did not feel like this at all, because we continued to receive hundreds of emails from people who had heard about us and were seeking our help. We did not have the association back then, we were just two crazy women that people heard about. We realized we did not have the right to stop. So we set up the association.”
The Offer Life president, Carmen Uscatu, tells us more about the activities carried out by the association.
“Our projects address mainly patients suffering from cancer. In this respect, we have so far managed to invest over 3 million euros in state hospitals and thus triple the country’s transplant capacity. We built 18 sterile wards and we modernized and equipped two molecular biology labs for an accurate diagnosis of blood cancers. We also provided counselling to over one thousand patients who asked for information in order to get a second medical opinion or other type of information. We work with volunteers who assist patients, and help us raise funds. An important thing that we have managed to do is push for a government decision, which has been adopted recently, allowing for the drawing up of a program under which the cost of tests to detect cancer is covered by the state. We have also succeeded in raising 4 million euros, money which in our opinion brought the Romanian medical system, at least in terms of cancer diagnosis and treatment, close to the level of 2014.”
Subsequently, an online fund raising platform was created, named the Happiness Stock Exchange, starting from our belief that doing good or donating makes donors themselves happy. Anyone interested in making donations can access this website to see where the money goes and support us if he or she likes our projects, our interlocutors have also told us. Carmen Uscatu:
“We created this online platform, the Happiness Stock Exchange, for those willing to donate money, donations which we consider more like an investment. That is because we want donors to know that when they decide to support a certain cause, they must know where their money goes. They must see for themselves that their donations go to the case they chose to support. So we count on transparency, giving donors the possibility to track their donation on the website, attributed to the project they chose to support, with the long-term results that we are trying to get. It’s not always easy. There are times when we reach our goals and times when we need to be patient, because from our experience we learnt that with a lot of perseverance, things can be changed in Romania as well.”
And because no association of this kind can survive without the work of volunteers, the Offer Life association has its own number of volunteers who manage the website, keep a database and support patients. Oana Gheorghiu:
“There are many NGOs in Romania and that’s a positive thing. People will understand, little by little, that getting involved in the community life is something we all get rewarded for. The harder we try to improve the health system, the more our children and we will benefit from it in the future. I believe we must get rid of individualism and understand it only harms us. Unless we get involved, we will see no results. I think that each of us can show solidarity with a cause and get involved at least once a year.”
The lesson that the Offer Life association teaches us is that volunteering is very important both at the level of individuals and companies. If all companies considered sponsoring a certain project, and the money went into the healthcare system, education and environment, our lives would be different.