“Living here is good, I have learned all I need to lead an independent life, run a home and live like everyone else to study and to think of the future what more could I ask” says Daniela Calcula, who has been at St Laurence most of her life.
The St Laurence Centre first opened as an infant’s and children’s HIV AIDS Hospice in March 1992. Initially staffed by British volunteer managers, nurses and carers, supported by a number of very dedicated Romanians, however today the centre offers sheltered independent living for up to 18 young people who each day live with the challenge of being HIV positive. Most of the residents came to the centre as one of the 430 children to have found at St. Laurence the shelter, love, care and medical support needed in dealing with the side effects of the HIV virus or AIDS itself. A further thirty or so of the survivor group have returned to their home community or other placement centres or state institutions. A new generation of body positive young people looking to achieve independent living skills joined this little community in late 2013.
Today our young residents live in the five family groups in the homes that once housed CID’s international volunteer nursing teams. Other young adults are supported by the Centre’s community based independent living programmes in their home community.
Our young residents are provided with antiretroviral medication and given every support to gain all the skills they need to lead as normal a life as possible. Our aim is, wherever possible, to prepare and skill our young people for a future living independently or with their own or foster families back in their home communities. For young people brought up in an institution, no matter how good that may have been , this is the ultimate in supported and independent living and there is competition to graduate to St Laurence’s sheltered living accommodation. We teach all the necessary skills for independent life managing on a budget, cooking and keeping their home clean and tidy.
For a number of the young people with learning difficulties and or disabilities, the HIV virus and its side effects may well mean that St. Laurence will remain their long term home and the Charity , and its operational arm PositivPlus have already adapted Casa Cristi, one of the houses on site, to offer them that opportunity.
The former main Hospice building has now found a new role offering accommodation for senior citizens of Cernavoda town, who need sheltered care and young women at risk in the community and battered wives who are at risk of abuse at home. This project is operated by the Cernavoda Town Council and integrates the St Laurence complex into the welfare needs of its host community.
The chapel is used as a place of worship by the local Baptist congregation.