LetꞋs talk about Romania

When I found out that I was selected to participate in an adventure called IWitness, travelling to Romania, my happiness was filled with excitement and questions like:

What we will see there?

I am travelling with my co-workers from Zagreb (Valentina Vajdic and Robert Spisic), Belgrade (Jelena Prokić) and Romania (Raisa Robu and Valentin Zota). Together, we can be witnesses to the IKEA Foundation programme that helps children in collaboration with Save the Children Romania.

After a safe flight and arrival in Bucharest on Monday, all my questions slowly started getting their answers when we visited Salvati Copiii (Save the Children Romania).

IWitness ambassadors with project partners at the Salvati Copiii. By Shambhavi Sharma (IKEA Foundation).

Visiting Salvati Copiii (centre for emotional and behavioural education of children) and meeting Save the Children Romania showed us the importance this partnership co-operation because it is working on wide range of community problems in Romania.

Did you know…

  • In Romania, school principals are focused more on politics than on children?
  • The law says that school is free, but there are so-called “hidden education costs?”
  • Roma children do not go to school because their parents do not have confidence in the school system?
  • The level of drop-out before second grade from school among Roma children is 80%?
  • In Romania it is normal to believe that children can be beaten to learn how to behave?
  • The usual way of education in Romania is shouting at kids and calling them names?
  • Children in Romania learn mostly how to compete and not to co-operate?
  • There are programmes to encourage the enrolment of Roma children in high school and university education, but the government is not looking at the fact that the Roma children mostly do not finish elementary and middle school?
  • Roma children, children with developmental disabilities and poor children in schools are discriminated against and stigmatised?
  • Roma children, before they go to school, often do not know about running water and how to use the toilet?­
  • Roma children often do not have hygiene habits or habits of respect for authority?

This is where Save the Children helps. Save the Children works to improve all of the problem areas and therefore operates in the following ways:

  • Works to strengthen Roma parents’ trust in school institutions.
  • Develops pre-school programmes to support children for admission to school (learning how to wash their hands, how to use the toilet, social skills, how to use pencils, how to behave).
  • Works to engage the local community in the construction of kindergartens and the renovation of schools.
  • Provides vulnerable families with psychological support, trust and reliance.
  • Works on removing the stigma from Roma community and Roma children in schools.
  • Increases the inclusion of vulnerable groups in the educational system.
  • Educates teachers to work with vulnerable groups.
School no. 181, Bucharest. By Robert Spisic.

The importance of action is best seen during a visit to a school where Save the Children is working intensively on the inclusion of both children and parents in the educational system.

The children were extremely polite and socialised. They had a lot of knowledge, social skills and loved to do school workshops.

During a visit to a school, we were filled with many positive emotions that have helped us to understand why is really important to include Roma children in the educational process and to encourage them to finish school.

The children who go to school regularly develop different skills and a consequence of that is their greater participation in community and society in general.

Imagine you don’t have the option to be full member of society, and that others reject, discriminate and stigmatize you!

How would you feel?

You’d probably feel bad and this bad feeling would be reflected on your psyche, on your character, on your personality.

Therefore, act!

On the first day our adventure, the action taken at the level of partner co-operation has proved to us that it works, that it can help.

I want to encourage other organisations to collaborate with NGOs that can provide support. In this way, they can help vulnerable communities and provide equal opportunities so that everyone feels more equal, and has the possibility of a happy life.

Everybody deserves happiness, everybody deserves decent life!

Group photo. By Shanvi Shambhavi Sharma.
Photo by By Robert Spisic.
Photo by Cristina Tanase.
    Monika Vlcek