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    John-Mark Hopkins making a difference in Romania

    03 October 2017

    SPIE Member John-Mark Hopkins, head of the Department of Lasers and Laser Applications and deputy head of the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics, is preparing for his annual trip to work with Fundatia pentru Asistenta Sociala si Tineret, or FAST, a charity in Secele near Brasov in Romania. FAST Romania aims to eliminate poverty, deprivation, and discrimination in Brasov county. They focus on destitute and marginalized families in the region, and support educational and housing programs designed to increase self-sufficiency.

    Hopkins has made this annual trip for seven years. His earlier work with the organization included identifying families that were most in need and building a team from the village that was permanently employed to build small community centers. These buildings serve as meeting places, educational hubs, churches, cultural centers, and as a base for the FAST Charity.

    The greatest consequence of this ongoing work, says Hopkins, is that the children of the area have returned to school. "The derelict soviet era technical college was the next purchase and this has been recently converted into a training centre for all sorts of vocational skills so that as the children grow they can learn trades and skills for future employment," he notes in his newsletter.

    Hopkins will return to Secele this month with his family. If you would like to learn more about FAST Romania and see images of the progress made in the community, visit You can also support Hopkins work directly by visiting his fundraising site.

    John-Mark Hopkins with families he has assisted during his work with FAST
    John-Mark Hopkins with families he has assisted during his work with FAST Romania.
    Photo credit: John-Mark Hopkins