Winthrop resident Meg Shannon has returned from her second humanitarian mission to the Republic of Moldova, an Eastern European country located between Romania and the Ukraine.
Shannon delivered care packages to six different orphanages on a ten-day trip to the country. She was part of a contingent of nine volunteers from Grace Chapel, a church in Lexington.
“Once you go, you have to go back,” said Shannon, explaining her decision to participate in a second mission. “Those kids look forward to you coming back. No one visits these children so if you don’t show up, it’s almost like you let them down again and they’ve had enough letdowns in life – you just have to return.”
The project was a part of The Little Samaritans Mission whose goal is to deliver packages to the children in the orphanages and food and coal to the elderly residents in the villages.
Shannon said the group flew from Boston to Munich, Germany and then on to Chisinau, the capital of Moldova. They made a three-hour trek to the first of six orphanages in an isolated part of the country.
A 44-year-old mother of two sons, Mark, 23, and Daniel, 21, Meg Shannon said her mission helped lift the spirits of the children at the orphanages. The group delivered care packages containing pajamas, other items of clothing, blankets, toothpaste, soap, deodorants, and other essentials.
The experience was a rewarding but emotional one for Shannon, who works at Massport.
“It’s very rewarding but it’s also very sad and eye-opening,” said Shannon. “This time it was really emotionally tough because I learned that the country will not build any more orphanages so that means that the children will be sent to families’ homes that don’t want them or placed in foster homes where they aren’t treated well. At the age of 16, the children are forced to leave the orphanages with very little education.”
Shannon said she was inspired to make her first mission to Moldova by the words of the church pastor.
“Pastor [Brian] Wilkinson was talking about radical changes and all of a sudden I just felt it in my heart that I needed go and see these children,” said Shannon.
She knows her late mother, Betty Oliver, would be proud of her efforts.
“My mother and I used to fill care packages for children together,” said Shannon. “When my mother passed away and I heard the words of my pastor, I knew I had to do more for the children. This effort is sort of a tribute to my mother. I feel very good about what I’m doing for these children in Moldova. And I can’t wait to go back.”