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Gavin Drysdale (in red t-shirt) during the trip to Romania
Gavin Drysdale (in red t-shirt) during the trip to Romania

Youth Column: The BB and the Rhema Foundation

Tuesday March 12

Gavin Drysdale reports on the influence of the Boys' Brigade on his life - and a connection with a Romanian charity.


I have been a member of 17th Ayr Boys’ Brigade Company at Castlehill Church since I started secondary school.

The Boys’ Brigade has always been a huge part of my life. I was originally a member of 1st Ayr from the age of six before I joined 17th Ayr.

Over the years, I have made some great memories with the Boys’ Brigade. From going away on annual camps to participating in the local bible quiz. However, there’s one memory in particular that stands out the most…

In August 2016, I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to visit an orphanage in Târgu Mureș, Romania with my company.

For over a decade, 17th Ayr has been closely connected with Rhema Foundation – an organisation founded in 1996 to provide residential care for some of the victims of Ceasescu’s brutal regime.

My company first went out to Romania in 2011 and I was delighted to be able to join them for their third trip in 2016. I had heard some of the older boys speak about their experiences of going, but I didn’t know quite what to expect.

It was fantastic to be able to see first-hand the amazing work that the foundation does that I had heard so much about. They really do provide unconditional love and ensure the residents’ lives can be as bright as possible despite all the adversity they face.

The residents were so welcoming. Their joy upon our arrival was indescribable. It was so contagious that it lifted our weary spirits as we had just taken a six-hour bus journey from Bucharest Airport. They were so happy to see us.

During our trip, we learnt that although various other groups had visited the Rhema Foundation, we were the only group that had returned.

We spent a week in Romania. Whenever my company had been before, they had always wanted do something practical for the residents, whether that be repaving their driveway or painting a fence because they felt that was a way of being helpful. And they definitely were being helpful, those jobs badly needed done – but they soon realised what the residents enjoyed the most was spending time with us.

It is often the things that we take for granted, like the opportunity for social interaction, that they appreciate the most. As well as spending time with the residents, we also provided entertaining activities for the preschool children from the local Gypsy community. Due to the low status of the community within Romania, the government does not provide them with preschool education so the Rhema Foundation steps in to help. We thoroughly enjoyed being with the children throughout the week.

It was definitely one of the most surreal, rewarding and enjoyable experiences I have been a part of and I am pleased to share that I will be returning to Romania along with my company this August to visit the Rhema Foundation once more.


If you are under 30 and involved in the Church of Scotland, and would be interested in writing for this column, or if you would like to suggest someone, please email us on magazine@lifeandwork.org


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