Arney woman, Claire Owens will travel to Moldova next month for eight days bringing aid to primary school children living in one of the poorest countries in Europe.
The team manager with BT Flex in Belfast will spend eight days in the northern Moldova area known as Sturzeni, building proper bathroom facilities in a primary school as well as bringing food aid, school equipment and clothes to those in need.
It will be the second time Claire has made the trip with TEECH (Telecommunications Eastern European Challenge), a charity established in 1998 by a group of BT colleagues who worked together near Ipswich.
Her initial trip in August last year is still very much etched on her mind.
“Just being there and seeing that the work that you are doing is making such a difference to people’s lives, there are no words for that,” says Claire, “It is a physically and mentally draining experience being out there. Yes, it is tough, but just seeing the wee faces of the children when you hand them out a school bag or food that they can take to their families who have no means of travel for food, that makes it all so worth it.
“The conditions that people have to live in there are so poor. It is very hard to leave them and go home to your own every day life. And it is very hard to put them out of your mind. When I returned home last year there was no doubt in my mind that I would go back again.”
Claire recalls a particular day trip she made last year while in Moldova: “A midwife in Essex had organised to have old NHS hospital beds donated to the area. They were not being used and were going to be dumped anyway. I went to the hospital where some of the beds were being donated. The equipment that they use is so outdated. I met a terminally ill patient there who had been given one of the donated hospital beds. He kept saying: ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you’. He was just so grateful. It was so rewarding to know that in his last days in this world he had some comfort and that we had made a difference to him in his last breath in life.”
The trip to Moldova takes three days by coach with two nights’ stay in a hotel. 
“The team will spend their eight days working and sleeping in the primary school.
“We have blow up beds and camp showers which are solar heated. You fill the shower bags in the morning with water and the sun heats the water for your shower in the evening,” explains Claire, “It is very basic but you don’t need very much.”
Before this year’s trip, commencing on August 12, Claire is aiming to raise a minimum of £700.
She is half way towards reaching her target so far.
“Last year before I headed out I was very apprehensive because I had no plumbing or electrical skills. 
“But when I spoke to one of the organisers on the phone he said they weren’t specifically looking for someone with trade experience, just someone who is prepared to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in. And I was happy to do that. We got ourselves involved in real manual labour in the sweltering heat for eight days and it was all worth it.” To make a donation to Claire’s charity efforts go to