Thanks for visiting the Mission Croatia project page.
Mission Croatia had its last trip in June 2014 after 18 years continuous service. It was a fantastic trip and our student and staff team did us proud, finishing off Mission Croatia on a high.
Well done Mission Croatia 1997-2014; what a bunch of STARS you are!
In 1997, the first group of students and staff from Anglia Ruskin University travelled out to Kraljevica, a coastal town in Croatia, on the Adriatic Sea. They went to a rambling old building that, for 100 years, had been used as a hospital for the treatment of allergies, particularly asthma. Following the war in the 1990s, a number of displaced adults and children with learning difficulties were housed at the hospital, which was ill equipped to cope with their very special needs.
The hospital lacked basic features such as lifts and security gates, and years of neglect combined with the Adriatic weather had left much of its fabric crumbling. The hospital staff was stretched to the limit and could only provide basic levels of care. Few had experience or training in caring for people with special needs, and Croatian society is not generally inclusive of disabled people.
Over the past 17 years, successive groups of students from across our University's faculties from all campuses have cleaned, plastered, rubbed down, dug, painted, cleared, and decorated the hospitals. Those with skills have used them; those without have learned under supervision. Previously derelict areas are now usable and cheerful and bring a renewed sense of joy to patients and staff.
Our University staff and students spent time working on the fabric of the buildings, as well as working with the patients. For many patients, this human contact at a one-to-one level, where play and care are combined is a rare luxury. For many of our students, the friendships formed with the children and adults at the hospitals have proved the most important part of the project.
Due to the commitment and enthusiasm of the hospital staff, together with the input of Mission Croatia and other charities, enormous steps forward have been made. The physical work on the units and in the grounds has been hard, but equally challenging is the reality of life in large learning-disabled institutions.
More of the same!
Our trip in 2014 was the last ever Mission Croatia trip. As we have seen so many changes happen over the years and many improvements in the sites, and with Croatia now being part of the EU, we made the decision that 2014 would be the final year of Mission Croatia.
It's a decision that is not made easily, or without sadness as we have made many friends over the years - real friends. But as the ICE projects develop and we have limited resources we also need to move with the times and stages of development and recognise when the time has come to finish a project and re-direct resources to the development of others.