The Need and The Response

Centrul Curcubeu - The Need

There is a very real crisis affecting thousands of children in the poorest rural areas of Romania at present.Their families are caught in a cycle of under-education and poverty, and the children do not have sufficient opportunities or assistance to break out of it. In short, for many poor village children, education is inaccessible, living conditions are practically unbearable and the chances of a decent future life are extremely limited. Recent studies from many organizations, including UNICEF and Save The Children, have singled out educational challenges as the most pressing issues to resolve for Romanian children in rural poverty. Through our personal contact with hundreds of these households, as well as extensive discussions with local authorities, social assistants and child protection officials, we have drawn the same conclusion. The early drop-out rate has only increased since the onset of the latest economic crisis, and future prospects for uneducated, poor children are bleaker than ever. In the villages where we are working, schools only go up until the 8th grade. To study further, a student must be admitted to and attend a high school in the city. This means first of all having grades good enough to be accepted by a high school and secondly having the money to either travel back and forth to the city or to live in a dormitory. To travel costs about $60 per month and requires the student to catch a bus at 5am, returning home in the late afternoon. To stay in a school dormitory in Bacau costs $100 per month. Parents in most of these families have virtually no cash income. Therefore, many are resigned to the "fact" that their children will not be able to study beyond the 8th grade. At the same time, they know that an 8th grade education is no longer sufficient to get any kind of a job anywhere in Romania. So, lacking any vision for education, many of the parents don't even encourage their children to learn. Most of these parents have very little education themselves and some are illiterate, so they cannot help their own children with studies at all. As a result, many of the children don't attend school more than half of the days. Some hardly attend at all. Most of them are passed along from year to year by the teachers, who have come to have very low expectations, just so that they can look good on paper. Lots of kids in the 5th and 6th grades can hardly even read. The school in Marasti, where our center is being set up, has two teachers, both retirement age, teaching grades 1 - 4, with two grades in each classroom simultaneously. Because of the lack of public transportation and the miserable salaries offered to young teachers, the school board has not been able to fill these posts. In comuna Filipeni, where we are setting up the after-school center, two classes of children graduated eighth grade in the 2010-2011 school year. From these over 50 students, only 2 went on to some form of secondary school. The families of the rest of the children couldn't afford to send them. The future prospects for these children are scary. The only employment available in their villages is occasional day work in the fields, for about $10 per day. Their parents don't have organized, working farms or anything else to pass on to the kids. Following the present pattern, many of the girls will probably move in with a man at a very young age (14 or 15), just to have a plate of food every day. Some of the boys will try to leave the country, looking for unofficial work beyond the border. Most of them will be exploited or fall in with criminals. Many of those who stay home will appeal for government social benefits and perhaps receive about $50 per month, if they qualify.

The Response

At Centrul Curcubeu, the children will receive tutoring in basic scholastic skills, help with homework and assignments, a nourishing meal (many of these children are undernourished and come to school hungry), daily character-building input, arts and crafts, introduction to computers and how to use the Internet for good, and instruction in personal hygiene. The basic goals of this after-school program are as follows:
  • To help some of these very needy children break out of the cycle of poverty and under-education which their families are trapped in.
  • To envision the children with the value of learning and the greater possibilities available to them through education.
  • To equip them with scholastic skills adequate for success in further education and life thereafter.

  • To impart to the children a confidence in God and His Word, which will both encourage them to make the most of their lives and provide them with a source of strength to confront their challenges.

    When these children complete the 8th grade, we hope to be able to also sponsor their high school education, through the help of concerned individuals (like you?).