Happy New Year from all of us at MAD-Aid!

2016 has been a challenging year globally, and for us too. Despite the challenges, we’ve carried on Making a Difference to the people in Moldova that we support.

Here are some of the things we achieved in 2016

We sent three trucks full of Aid and delivered their contents to the local hospital in Riscani, to disabled people in the North of Moldova, to the Mother and Child Hospital, Care Home in Riscani, and to other vulnerable people in the community.


The Phoenix Centre has continued to transform the lives of the children who use it. They are becoming personalities, full of life, having fun and making friends. For the first time in their lives they have been out on a variety of excursions, from a trip to the local swimming bath to a visit to a Pizza restaurant.


34 children have benefitted from Phoenix, through over 1800 visits. They receive education, activities, transport to and from home, food, love and care. Thanks to our Partners and the local community, each child received 7 Christmas presents. They have lived in isolation for so long, we’re pleased to have facilitated this for them.


We also opened the Phoenix Centre inclusive playground, the first of its type in the Country, which has a range of disability-friendly play options.


The Early Intervention and Rehabilitation Centre has provided therapies for 120 children in nearly 1300 therapy sessions. The therapy treatments were tailored to the needs of each child and therefore varied in length and complexity.


26 children have been assessed by a British orthopaedic specialist, Dr Bassel El-Osta, who donated his time and funded his own travel to help these children. Eight of them have surgery programmed for April 2017 with Doctor El-Osta alongside a Moldovan surgical team. Other children were sent for further investigation, and some have had therapy specially tailored for them, to be given at the Early Intervention Centre.


We have set up a Volunteer Programme to help the centre run more effectively.
In partnership with other organisations, we have sent aid to Romania, Africa and Ukraine. We also assisted the Communication Workers Humanitarian Aid (CWUHA) in sending 2 humanitarian aid convoys to Moldova, a total of 12 trucks.


Last but not least, we created a new partnership with Dent Aid. From 2017, they will work in Moldova providing dental equipment, training and volunteers.

MAD-Aid’s 2017 started with sad news and great news.

One of our founding trustees, our Treasurer John Barnes, passed away on New Year’s Day. John was at the heart of the charity, always professional, fun to be with, helpful and determined. We will miss him hugely and it will be hard to learn to go on without him. He was with us at our last Trustee meeting in November 2016, and throughout our development to date, he had kept our accounts meticulously.


John visited Moldova for our opening in 2015, and intended to return. We will remember his contribution to MAD-Aid with huge gratitude and appreciation, and we are very sad to lose him.


  John Barnes, former trustee


Our exciting news is that our founder, Victoria Dunford has been nominated for a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for services to children with disabilities in northern Moldova. This is a huge honour for MAD-Aid and reflects the work and support of all of you.



Thank you for being with us during 2016. We hope to inspire you to stay for many years to come.

Wishing you a happy, healthy and fulfilling year ahead.

Update for MAD-Aid program – Phoenix Centre

Has been a long time since we came with any updates – How are we doing? How are the children at Phoenix doing?


Well, MAD-Aid has been very busy alongside its partners for last year:


  • Recycling and delivering wheelchairs
  • Running Phoenix Centre that provided so much needed services for disabled children
  • Becoming a member of Accessible for All Campaign, building of new date of base for people with disability in 2 districts of Moldova, 200 people have been evaluated and a case put together.
  • Got 3 children at Phoenix sponsored – more sponsors needed!
  • Offering training for staff and parents
  • Continuing the partnership with CWUHA and assisting with humanitarian convoys to Moldova
  • Introducing the fundraising concept in Moldova


Much more information you can find on our new website, please give us any feedback and input how we can improve it! We just launched it, and you are first one to know!




Thank you very much for yours continue to support, so much needed to keep the services going.

Moldova it is in even more financial difficulty so the centre is running only from fundraising events and donations from our supporters.

Happy New Year

What A year has been for MAD-Aid and for each of us involved in it!

As Nelson Mandala says, “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead”. What we will be remembered for, it’s not going to be a number of iPhones we owned or a number of sports cars in our garage. The thing we will be remembered for is the legacy behind us, the number of people’s lives we made the difference.

Alongside our partners, we certainly have made a difference and transformed people’s lives in 2015. From a small charity organisation that collected and delivered redundant equipment, we embarked on life changing project. A project that is transforming radically the lives of children with disabilities and their families, a project that is changing the community approach on volunteering, a project that educates the society about disability and the hidden potential in the forgotten/ isolated children.
MAD-Aid achievements during 2015:

  • Continued recycling and delivering so much needed wheelchairs, walking frames and other specialised equipment
  • Delivered medical aid to Neuro hospital in Chisinau, trauma hospital and oncology hospital
  • Reached around 1000 children from vulnerable families who received clothes, school stationeries, school bags, shoes, food and household items from south to north of Moldova.
  • Opened first Day centre in north of Moldova for children with disabilities
  • Open the first Early Intervention Centre in North of Moldova to provide non-medical therapies for children with disabilities 0-5 years old
  • Created local employment in the region with high unemployment rate
  • Provided the furniture and equipment for the Community Center in Mihaileni Riscani, and provided consultancy on setting up an accessible modern facility for elderly people
  • Continued working on forming more partnerships in order to Make the Difference in Moldova and Romania
  • Adhering to Accessible for All campaign to lobby the correct infrastructure in Moldova for building of accessibility facility such as ramps, disabled bathrooms and so on
  • Welcomed Mr. Iurii Bivol as new trustee
  • Receiving the Moldova State Award: Medal for “Civic Merit” for all the work MAD-Aid contributed in Moldova.

All these projects are coming with its own challenges, and especially the sustainability and continuity of our work.
As soon as we opened the centre, we adopted its beneficiaries, the children that have been isolated and abandoned for years.
At this time of the year when every child is waiting for Father Christmas and when the magic of the lights is giving hope and determination, we asked the children to write their first letter to santa.
Their responses made me shake literally, as every child older than 11 wanted just one thing: Phoenix never to be closed and to allow them to attend the centre. I want them to be children, I want them to want to have a toy, cars and sweets, but instead, they wanted this social inclusion we offering at the centre…This inclusion should be their birth rights, not a privilege we offering.  After persuading them to ask for an object we got some little wishes, a small car, a bus, some sweets and one child want an Angel which would keep him safe.
Please join us on this live transformation projects, please be the Father Christmas for these children and help us keeping the Phoenix Open.  You still have time to Make a Difference in 2015 or to mark a day in the calendar for 2016 where you can change someone life.

As 2016 is coming, and the light of hope is filling our heart, MAD-Aid wishes you a happy, healthy, prosperous year ahead, a year that you will remember and cherish forever, a year that you will be remembered for.


From Young to Old

Children with disabilities are at the heart of our charity, but if we can we do not say NO to anyone. Wheelchairs from Southampton Hospice help Moldovan veterans.

When we visited Moldova after our last delivery we had a group with World War II veterans approach us with tears in their eyes, looking for help for their fellows with no legs or who cannot walk anymore.

What could we say?

The wheelchairs donated to us by Southampton Hospice went straight to them. There are so few of them left in a country like Moldova. They were on the front line with the Russians, but now they are forgotten in small villages around the country.

Vasile is so happy at 91 years of age to be able to have a wheelchair and a new stick for his friend.

In Riscani district we have 47 veterans, in Moldova, there are still about 7000 from World War II and from the Civil War.

We now have over 100 wheelchairs to be delivered to children with disabilities and to adults like Vasile, enabling them to see the day not just from the house window but from the yard.
A right, not a privilege

The inclusion by the society of all people with disabilities is a birth right not a privilege or a lottery managed by us. We do hope that the charity will change the lives of many people with disabilities and contribute in some way of changing society’s attitude to them.

In my view, the children are our FUTURE but these adults are people thanks to whom we are where we are today.

Belated Happy Anniversary to our trustee

MAD-Aid would like to say a Very Happy Golden anniversary to our trustee John Barnes and his lovely wife Ann.

Ann and John had 2 lovely Golden Wedding parties and raised about £ 300.00 towards MAD-Aid’s next shipment. Thanks, John and Ann, and our good wishes for many happy years ahead.
We’re ready to send the next shipment, and we need your help.

Since coming back from Moldova, we have been very busy.

Our store, kindly lent by Hollies Farm, is filling up so fast that we hardly can keep up. St Mary’s hospital is happy that the donated equipment can be useful where it is so badly needed.

The Isle of Wight Council has also donated some special needs equipment for the activity centre for children with disabilities that we are planning to set up in Moldova. And more much-needed wheelchairs are in our store and waiting to be delivered.

We are ready to send our next shipment as soon as the funds are raised. It costs around 4,500 Euros to transport each load. Can you help?

My personal view and feelings after the trip…

MAD-Aid was officially launched on 1st of September 2012. We had a vision and we had some clear goals: to collect discarded medical equipment, to get charity status, to raise funds for our first delivery.

And suddenly in March 2013 all this became a reality. We became a registered charity, and we took our first load to Moldova.

Getting underway

On 5th of March at 7 am, on a chilly Spring morning, everyone was excited and keen to get the 16.5 m lorry loaded. With jokes, fun and good teamwork we got the last bed on and the door closed. There was no space left at all. With a farewell to the drivers, Ciprian and Ionut, we went home full of happiness and all the hard work seemed worthwhile.

But the work was not done yet, and John and I were soon busy packing our personal luggage.

On 6th of March we left for Moldova. Our trip took nearly took as long as driving as we had ferry, bus and plane with a stop in Turkey. On Wednesday morning at 9.30 am we landed in Chisinau airport, and were met by Ana and Andrei, our full time helpers for the time being there, and also by our little van that we hired to drive in Moldova.

After a very short break, enough to have a coffee, we started planning the delivery and visits. The lorry was in Romania by this time, and we checked with the broker that the papers for customs clearance were OK. At 3.30 pm we decided to visit the Mother and Child hospital where the first equipment would arrive.

A brush with reality – conditions in the Mother and Child Hospital

I was born and raised in Moldova. I was a patient in this hospital a few times in the late 80′s, but what I saw there on 7th of March left me with no words and tears in my eyes.

Did I see the whole hospital? No I couldn’t. The beds were full of rust, the walls were painted such a dark green, there were broken bedside cabinets, tiles falling from the walls , and just pain in the parents eyes as they sat with their children. One of the nurses said to me that last summer they tried to take the beds out and wash them with petrol hoping the rust would come off.

This was enough for us for the day. After 24 hours with no sleep and with such excitement at seeing the lorry full, we came down to earth with a bang as we found that, instead of improving over the last 20 years, the hospital had badly deteriorated.

The load arrives

Thursday morning at 7.30 I had a phone call from Ciprian saying that he was already waiting at the Chisinau Customs Terminal which opens at 9 am so he could get customs clearance. We met with Veronica, the lady who arranged our papers, brokers and so on, took our pack of papers and headed to the terminal ourselves. Hours passed and there was still nothing either from customs personnel or from the broker. Everybody assured us that everything was OK and under control and would be finished soon. “Soon” turned out to be after 5pm.

First deliveries

After clearance, we unloaded the equipment for the Child and Mother hospital in a store in Chisinau and then headed to Riscani where the rest of equipment was to be unloaded. At Riscani hospital spirits were really high and the Consultant, the director of the hospital, the staff from the ward and even the patients were waiting outside to help unload.

By this time it was starting to rain quite heavily. John recalls the moment when a health care assistant picked up a locker which weighed about 30 kg and walked away with it. All the equipment went to a cardiac unit. The staff from A&E were asking when the load for them will come!

All the unloading was finished by 4 am. We said goodbye to the lorry and drove home to get some sleep.
Finding out more about needs on the ground

March 8th is a bank holiday in Moldova for international women’s day, so we decided to celebrate as well. By 8 am I was already up, and in the afternoon we went back to Riscani to sort out the stock left in storage that we were going to deliver individually.

During the following week, we visited several hospitals, spoke to the directors and staff, listened to patients’ views, visited a disabled people’s home, saw a few children with disabilities at home and also went to The Motivation Activity Center, where we saw the difference these wonderful people make.

Making a Difference

The trip was successful, and also very upsetting. We noticed the change when we went back to the hospitals where the patients with new beds were much happier. Over the lockers, there is conflict. The staff wanted a few lockers to store medication in; the patients were complaining that the lockers were supposed to be for them. We left them to it as both sides are right.

So overall, I can say with some authority now that things are bad and Moldova does need a lot of help.

I would like to thank everyone who made this trip possible starting with our trustees, supporters, equipment suppliers, volunteers here and in Moldova. Please do support us further and help us to Deliver the equipment and to MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

First shipment update

We’ve just heard from Victoria that all the deliveries are now done. Victoria and John will visit the hospital in Chisinau tomorrow, Thursday, to check that the equipment is on the wards. Deliveries were carried out in a hired transit van beautifully decorated with our sponsors’ signs and our own.

New bedside cabinet on a ward

The bedside cabinets have been a huge hit. The ones they are replacing are basic and often broken. Victoria says “the hospital here (in Riscani) is fighting over 16 bedside cabinets.” The extent of the need for modern equipment is almost overwhelming. But while it’s true that we’re just scratching the surface, there is no doubt that everything we’ve been able to send to Moldova is making a difference.

Conditions are worse than Victoria had expected. She knew things were bad, but not as bad as they actually are. In Riscani she was shown an Xray room which dates from the 1960s. Xrays have to be developed in a darkroom and hung up to dry.

Moldovan TV has given us access to a video showing extensively decaying windows, walls and ceilings, beds with broken springs that are ripping into the already inadequate, stained mattresses, broken tiles and flooring so worn and thin it has shredded – there’s no other word for it.

As well as touring hospitals with equipment, Victoria and John have visited Olga, the young woman from Victoria’s village who is isolated at home for many hours each day by her mobility problems. They’ve also been back to see Alexandru, the elder of the two boys who received our first wheelchairs at Christmas.

More wheelchairs have been delivered this time, and there are more in the pipeline, so we hope that as time goes on, many more Moldovan children with disabilities will have access to the mobility aids they need.

First Shipment on its way

On Monday, March 4th, 2013, just five months after our launch, our first lorry filled with beds and medical equipment left the Isle of Wight for Moldova.

The lorry and our volunteers arrived on site at A E Brown Farms in Merstone at 8 a.m. There was a bitterly cold wind, and the sun remained stubbornly behind the clouds until the job was finished, but nothing could dampen the spirits of anyone who was there. Six months ago, this was just a dream. Now it is a reality.

The store that the farm had lent us for free was full, and we needed every inch of lorry space. With a lot of hard work and careful packing, the load was assembled so that it could be unloaded in the right order as the lorry travels from hospital to hospital.
The last bed is loaded onto the truck.

The last bed is loaded onto the truck.

Loading was managed by Victoria Dunford and our new Trustee Ruslan Ciobanu, with help from friends and volunteers. In an unbelievably short space of time the lorry was full and the load was being finally secured before the doors were closed. Just after 10.30 the lorry left the farm on its way to Moldova.

The lorry leaves on its journey to Moldova. The lorry leaves on its journey to Moldova.

We could not have done it without the help of many friends and supporters, and we have learned an enormous amount along the way. This is just the start. We’re not only helping update very poorly equipped hospitals, we’re also saving the NHS and local organisations thousands of pounds in disposal costs.

At the Wightlink Ferry Terminal at Fishbourne (thank you Wightlink) we added our sponsors’ support signs to the sides of the cab. Each company has sponsored a sign to contribute to the cost of the shipment. We aim to make this a bigger feature and opportunity for Island businesses in future. Sponsors for this trip were 1stbabyshop, HJ Bennett, Wight Leaflets, ESP Design and Print, Island Eye and PC Consultants. Other generous donations were received from Tad from Diametric, Roger Skidmore, Sandown and Shanklin Rotary and Ryde Rotary. Enormous thanks to you all.

We’ll be keeping in touch with Victoria and John, who are travelling out to Moldova to supervise delivery, and we’ll update you as things unfold. Meanwhile, if you’ve supported us this far, THANK YOU. We really value all you’ve done.

MAD-Aid first steps

Welcome to our new blog. We expect that it will be the first place to look for news of our progress.

Since we launched on 1 September 2012, we have received both practical help and funds from generous donors including A E Brown (Farms) Ltd. We are also grateful to Victor of Web Creative Solutions for creating our website, to the Moldovan Embassy in the UK and to members of the Moldovan community on the Isle of Wight who have been with us from the start. We thank you all.

Our 1940s evening on 10th November was enjoyed by everyone who attended and added £339.64 to our funds. Many thanks to members of East Cowes Heritage for the displays and for your wonderful support.

This week we’re delighted to have received a donation of £50 from the Rotary Club of Sandown. Our Director, Victoria Dunford, spoke to Club members about our work on Tuesday, December 4th. Thank you! We hope that this will be the start of an ongoing relationship.

Presentation, Rotary Club of Sandown.

Esme Shakeshaft (left), President of the Rotary Club of Sandown presents a cheque for £50 to Victoria Dunford, Director of MAD-Aid.

We also collected and sent our first two children’s wheelchairs to Moldova. They are destined for a five-year-old boy and a ten-year-old boy, and we expect them to arrive before Christmas.

Our generously donated secure store room is filling up fast with hospital equipment from hospitals on the Isle of Wight and in Southampton. Our next priority is to raise the £2500 – £3000 it will take to transport this equipment to hospitals in Moldova. You can help us by donating or by coming to our Ball at Lakeside on 5 January 2013.