This word is spoken almost exclusively in Eastern Europe (mostly Hungary and Romania) and  means “well, good, awesome” in Romani.

Visiting School Number 2 at Jilava. Picture by Gabriel Ungureanu, Save the Children Romania.

So we had awesome day. We started in the morning by visiting Save the Children’s Educational Centre in Jilava. There, we met teacher Arabela Marin and her class.

Arabela is the most vivid example of how teachers can make a significant difference in their students’ lives. She is very sensitive to children‘s needs and she helps them to feel secure and confident at the school. When it comes to knowing how to affect positive classroom behaviour (when it becomes too noisy), she has a special methodology, without yelling or any negative attitudes towards them. She sings a song together with the children: “Clap your hands, clap your hands, now let them quiet be”. We really enjoyed spending time there and made some posters, together with the children, about spring time.

Cristina Tanase, project co-ordinator for Roma pre-school children at Save the Children. Picture by Sanja Tisljaric, IKEA Croatia.

What we saw today in the field is also confirmation that Save the Children is doing a great job here in Romania, and the people who work there do it with passion. For them it is not only a job; they really believe and try to make a difference.

In the afternoon, Ines, from Belgrade, and the American team joined us.

More people to learn, more people to act. Picture by Sanja Tisljaric, IKEA Zagreb.

At the Centre for Emotional Education for Children (CEECC) in Bucharest, we met Diana Stanculeanu, programme co-ordinator for Save the Children in Romania. She explained more about the programme. It focuses on three important issues:

Children with mental health disorders

Preventing violence against children

Roma children

Romania has the highest infant mortality rate among European countries. So this is also a problem that Save the Children is dealing with in this country.

They strongly believe that only education can make a difference and has huge impact for more than four million children who live in the country. So they organise the summer kindergarten – a model for the educational integration of children from disadvantaged communities, in particular Roma children.

Feedback from the parents:

I never had the opportunity to learn how to write, while my child learned the alphabet during one summer…Summer kindergarten made miracles for my child…One day he will teach me how to write and read…Thank you for everything.” (taken from the Best Practice Guide for the Early Education of Children 3-5/6 years of age)*

*80% of children after this programme continue with their education

Centre for Emotional Education for Children (CEECC), Bucharest. Picture by Sanja Tisljaric, IKEA Croatia.

What I will remember from our first day on the IWitness trip?

A warm welcome

Nice people who are doing a great job

Children’s smiles

And last but not least, a huge hug from one of the children at school, which followed suddenly without a reason.

So maybe those children do not know us very well but they could recognise the good things that we are doing. It’s the best possible way to show us how we make a difference, and is so important to continue with that!

Today, in a street near Bucharest. Picture by Sanja Tisljaric, IKEA Croatia.
    Sanja Susnjara