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Romania
Period
February 2014 – January 2015
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Romania: Ensuring Children’s Access to Protection and Education

“Through this project children are encouraged to better collaborate with peers, to grow and develop, to learn new and useful things”

Izabela, volunteer member of a local NGO, Cârna, Dolj

The Context

A member state of the European Union since 2007, Romania is located in the southeast of the European continent. According to the UNICEF “Child Well-being in Rich Countries: A comparative overview” report of 2013, Romania continues to be the last of the 29 countries ranked.

The region of Oltenia, in the southwest, suffers deeply from the effects of poverty and deindustrialization. The district of Dolj has the highest unemployment rate in the country and 100,000 people do not have national health insurance. As is to be expected, academic performance is extremely low and the region’s high school drop-out figures are the highest in the country. In the last four years, there has been a 56% increase in the dropout rate, with 2,066 children leaving school in 2012.

According to the 2011 census, 4.67% of the self-identified Roma population live in Dolj, making it third in terms of Roma population in Romania. Other researches, however, state the figures are actually twice that number.

In this context, children find themselves in a most vulnerable position. Children are often victims of abuse, neglect, exploitation and trafficking.

Our Project

The Praevenir project of Terre des hommes seeks to improve the wellbeing of vulnerable children in the region of Oltenia by ensuring they have better access to protection services and education.

Praevenir is structured along the following three axes:

  1. Social participation and community development
  2. The strengthening of local primary and secondary prevention services available for children at risk of abuse, neglect, trafficking, school dropout, etc.
  3. Advocacy and child participation

By the end of 2015, the goal is to effectively ensure access to quality primary and secondary prevention services to 2,460 Roma and non-Roma children.

Our Partners

Terre des hommes
General Direction for Social Assistance and Child Protection Dolj (GDSACP)
Romanian Ministry of National Education
Dolj School Inspectorate
National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons (NAATIP)
University of Craiova, Faculty of Law and Social Sciences
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Sociology and Social Work
Community Consultative Committees from the following communes and towns: Celaru, Afumaţi, Amărăştii de Jos, Castranova, Sadova, Giurgiţa, Bârca, Calopăr, Malu Mare, Filiaşi, Măceşu de Sus, Urzicuţa, Cerăt, Coţofenii din Faţă, Coţofenii din Dos, Cârna, Segarcea, Dobroteşti, Bucovăţ, Podari, Negoi, Grădinari, Valea lui Pătru, Ostroveni, Maglavit, Bistreţ, Sălcuţa, Băileşti, Gângiova, Calafat.

Our Activities

The project’s activities are divided according to three lines of action:

1. Social participation and community development

  • One of the main activities or the first axis is to provide self-help grants. These community-based funding mechanisms allow small community groups, local informal initiatives, local NGOs and schools to carry out homegrown projects. We will launch campaigns calling for proposals by members of the community. This will allow for the creation of summer camps, after-school activities and, specifically, health, education and nutrition initiatives.
  • Community mobilization will be highly promoted through this line of work.
  • Cases of at-risk children and their families will be followed up through psychological support and counseling.

2. The strengthening of local primary and secondary prevention services and skills

  • Training and coaching will be implemented in schools or in the GDSACP.
  • Psychosocial support and counseling activities based mainly on the Terre des Hommes’ Movement, Game and Sport Methodology. Through it, children strengthen their personal and social skills, reinforcing values such as self-esteem, trust, tolerance, respect, cooperation, responsibility and creativity. This makes it easier for children who have been victims of neglect, exploitation or marginalization to get reintegrated into their families and schools.

3. Advocacy and child participation

Takeover Day is one of the main activities of the third axis. For a day or half a day children pick and “take over” a job position. It is important to note that each child must choose a job, not their parents, school or NGOs.

Everything is subsequently organized for them to experience the chosen job and its responsibilities to the fullest, in a way that each child is able to make decisions and voice his or her opinions freely.

The working professional who is being replaced by the child acts as his mentor for the day.

Our Results So Far

In 2013 the self-help grants funded 35 local initiatives. These involved 470 community representatives from 22 localities. These prevention efforts managed to involve 222 children in 390 after-school activities and 516 children in 119 summer activities. Ten awareness-raising activities were organized for parents, engaging 103 caregivers. These activities fostered communication and gave participants information on attitudes and behaviors that are harmful for children and deteriorate family relationships.

Of the 87 children who attended the project’s after-school activities during the first half of 2013, 85% of them improved their attendance and performance rates.

As part of the second axis, a total of 79 individuals (3rd year level university students, grantees, CCC members and social assistants) attended 6 learning events in 2013. Furthermore, 15 local social assistants benefitted from our training activities, resulting in 55% of the at-risk children treated being better documented and followed.

The Takeover Day event of 2013 was an unprecedented success. A record number of 2428 children from 38 counties (268 from Oltenia), aged 12-18, engaged in the challenges of the profession they aspire to. The professional mentors involved played a crucial rule in the success of this activity, giving children an opportunity that strengthened their self-esteem and self-confidence immensely.

Continuing these activities will allow children to develop their life skills to build a better future for themselves, thus generating the progress that their communities need.