Supporting the Activities of the “Casa Valentina” Rumenian Association for the School Education of Roma Children in Bucharest
Project location: ROMANIA, Ferentari, South of Bucharest
Project start date: July 2012 - Project end date: June 2013
Project number: 2012-063
Considerable progress has been made since the fall of the Ceausescu regime in 1989, but the standard of living is still very low, with a middle class income of around 450 Euros per month, and for the poor, below 200 Euros, often less than 70.
The political situation in Romania remains fragile. The economic measures imposed by the European Community and the IMF to release emergency loans have a significant impact on retirees (pensions were reduced by 15%) and civil servants (-25%). Inflation, fueled by the increase in VAT to 25%, is, in fact if not in the statistics, very strong (at least 10% in one year).
The economic crisis continues. Jobs, even if they are not declared, are extremely rare. Many salaries were reduced.
A significant number of European funds were allocated, but the bulk is not used, because of an ineffective administrative system.
The Populations that Valentina helps are largely Roma, from the Ferentari neighborhood (southern part of Bucharest). They are caught in a cycle of physical and cultural deprivation: poverty - no education - unemployment - begging - early motherhood - no responsibility of fathers - exclusion.
The reputation of the neighborhood as a place of violence, theft, and drugs, is well established, and although this is not completely justified, this perception reinforces the exclusion.
Housing conditions are precarious. In a building (block) what is typical is the "class 3", built during the Ceausescu years as a dormitory for factory workers: a room, a kitchenette and a bathroom, a total of 15 m2. In it live 4 to 7 people.
In the bathroom, a toilet, a tap of cold water, the only source of water in the apartment, a floor drain. Neither sink nor shower, no hot water, no gas, no heating. These blocks are mostly extremely dilapidated.
Where there is no block, there are shacks where the roof leaks frequently; the water source and toilets are outside.
The Nando Peretti Foundation has awarded a grant for this project to help children through tutoring / homework help, recreational activities, medical and hygiene education, and food assistance. Some are helped since kindergarten. Experience shows that the students who follow the program earlier usually stay in school longer.
The Romanian school system, which starts at 7 years old, is organized in half-days, morning or afternoon, depending on the levels and the schools. Children are left free half of the day. Attendance at the last level of kindergarten (Gradinita) is required for enrollment in primary school. Since one must pay for kindergarten, economic discrimination starts immediately. Even for regularly paying families, budget cuts make the registration to Gradinita very difficult for September 2012.
For parents, the organization wishes to know them by home visits, to help them with training, integration, socialization, and specific actions to improve housing. Reciprocity is expressed by small services.
The question of the association's financial efficiency is taken into account by very specifically focusing the money on children and families.Global Objectives: The emphasis is put on the dynamics of getting out of poverty. Valentina's vision is to assist families who wish to enter into such a dynamic and show so by their actions, because a strong determination is needed to break the cycle.
Specific Objectives: This program takes into account the children, a source of hope that needs to have a chance through education and school, and their parents, to recover dignity, work, and stability.
Result 1: 52 children from the pre-school cycle enter the education system and may follow the secondary level of education latter on, they receive a daily meal.
Result 2: 35 children from primary school receive personalized tutoring and homework assistance at the Day Centre and a daily meal.
Result 3: 68 families benefit from an Aid program and 9 adults are enrolled in a reinsertion program.