Buna and Mulțumesc

Buna and Mulțumesc

(Hello and thank you)

That is the extent of my Romanian so far this week. Language might be a bit of a barrier…but the children we have met this week have proven that kids are kids, no matter where they are in the world, and they all have the same needs.

Student from the IKEA Foundation Summer Kindergarten programme, By Janet VanderLugt

Back home I have three of my own children. My youngest is five years old, the same age as many of the kids who have participated in the IKEA Foundation education programme, through Save the Children. All week I have been noticing the similarities between my little one and the many children we met.

Colouring and play…and international commonality, by Janet VanderLugt

They smile, laugh, play, colour and sing just like my daughter and her school friends. Yet some of these Romanian kids, especially those of Roma descent, are growing up in what feels like a hopeless situation at home. Clothes and shoes that are dirty and don’t fit, no running water, barely any food at home, poor and uneducated parents who can’t help them succeed in school, abuse, child trafficking…the list goes on and on.

The kindergarten programme funded by the IKEA Foundation prepares the participants for school, to increase the chance of them succeeding and staying in classes.

They learn basic skills: how to sit still, socialise, use the bathroom and listen to instructions. They are given a meal and school supplies. A caring teacher creates a safe environment for them. All things that would prevent them from attending and staying in school.

Roma children often do not have their basic needs met, preventing them from even attending school. By Janet VanderLugt.

I was so humbled by the opportunity to meet with Romanian children and their parents this week. It was clear that the IKEA Foundation funded programme is making a huge impact in their lives, by preparing the kids to continue on their educational journey and have a bright future. The same hope that every parent has, no matter where they are in the world.

Roma children in Brașov, Romania. By Janet VanderLugt.