The issues

Romania has an excellent educational system which begins at the age of three with Kindergarten. Education is free but there are hidden expenses such as the cost of all school materials. There are grants available for school supplies but many of the families with whom we work are in temporary accommodation, sometimes without all the correct documentation or from another county of Romania. In these cases the state provided help is not available.

Any system would be challenged by the challenges faced bby many of our children in their home lives. Enrolling children in Kindergarten or school, finding suitable clothes, bags, books and stationery supplies all become more complicated when people are poor and parents have a low level of education. Added to this is the issue of homework which is an essential part of the system in Romania. Many children struggle to try and do homework by candlelight with little or no parental assistance or supervision.

Often the pressure on children to work to help support the family puts an education as a secondary issue. For those children who manage to continue with school, truancy or behavioural problems sometimes become an issue as young people try to make sense of a world in which they see themselves as being at the bottom.

How we help

We offer advice and help to parents on kindergarten and school enrolment and accessing whatever help may be available to them. In Autumn we run “Back to school” campaigns, appealing for donations of school supplies such as schoolbags. Clothing, books and other stationary supplies. We also run a “Homework Club” in which we collaborate with a local high school “Moise Nicoara”. Students from this school and occasionally other local schools volunteer their time and knowledge in the “Secret Garden” to help less privileged children with their homework and to generally befriend them. We believe that both sides benefit from this process. All children attending our homework club also receive a free hot meal each day and a snack as well as occasional grocery parcels to help their families.

How you can help

We are always in need of volunteers to help with running educational activities for the children, either in the Homework Club or with informal education and arts and crafts activities. Anyone with a basic school education can help with this programme, supervising, encouraging and where necessary offering advice and help to children as they do their homework. During the summer months for example we run a “Summer Club” with outdoor activities and when funds permit it, excursions with groups of children.

During the Autumn “Back to School” program we are in need of supplies for children who might otherwise not attend school due to the difficulties faced by families in providing everything needed. In 2015 we had a great response to this campaign and were able to supply approximately 300 children with all their basic school needs – shoes, clothing, schoolbags, jotters, pens, pencils etc.