Government Officials in Romania Leave a Family of Five to Starve

Government officials in Romania leave a family of five to starve.

Four children, left by their mother, in Handalu Ilbei, a Village in Maramures, live in poverty in a house ready to fall down.

They have days when they eat nothing but forest fruits, if the neighbours do not pity them and prepare something for them to eat.

Their mother left them about one year ago. The children go to a normal school but have not been properly assessed.

The four children live off an allowance and the money that their father sometimes earns from working in the Village.

Officials at the Cicarlau Town Hall, to which the Village belongs, say that they cannot help because the father doesn’t work for the community.

The four children are aged between six and fifteen years old. The eldest girl is in charge of washing and cooking.

They complain to their father that they have nothing to eat and go to school barefoot in the winter.

The father does not drink and is doing his best to send the children to school.

Abandonaţi de mamă, patru copii trăiesc într-o cocioabă la marginea civilizaţiei. „Toţi merg la şcoală. Desculţi, că n-au cu ce se încălţa“

oficialii guvernamentali din România lasă o familie de cinci persoane să moară de foame.

Patru copii părăsiţi de mamă din localitatea maramureşeană Handalu Ilbei trăiesc la limita sărăciei, lângă tatăl lor, într-o căsuţă mică, sărăcăcioasă, gata să se dărâme. Au zile în care mănâncă doar fructe de pădure, dacă nu-şi fac milă vecinii să le pregătească ceva de mâncare.

Un tată cu patru copii din Handalu Ilbei trăiesc la limită, într-o căsuţă sărăcăcioasă. Mama lor i-a părăsit în urmă cu aproape un an, iar de atunci, de ea nu mai ştiu nimic.
Copiii au probleme de adaptare, însă în lipsa unor evaluări ale specialiştilor merg la o şcoală normală, unde fac faţă cu greu cerinţelor. Din păcate, sărăcia şi lipsurile vin, de obicei, „la pachet” cu alte necazuri. Cei patru minori trăiesc doar din alocaţie şi din puţinii bani pe care îi prmeşte tatăl lor, muncind prin sat, cu ziua. Însă nu mereu.

Câteva femei din vecini îşi fac milă şi le mai oferă micuţilor o farfurie cu mîncare, ori o vorbă bună. Rodica Mureşan, o femeie a cărei mamă locueşte în vecini de cei patru copii, spune că a încercat să se implice să-i ajute, însă fără succes, până acum.

„Am fost personal la Primăria Cicârlău (de care aparţine satul) şi am sesizat Asistenţa Socială despre cazul lor. Au spus că nu le pot da ajutor social, pentru că bărbatul nu munceşte în folosul comunităţii. Şi eu sunt absolvent de Asistenţă Socială şi cunosc legea. Dar trebuie văzut fiecare caz în parte, unii oameni chiar nu sunt capabili de muncă. El a muncit o perioadă în folosul comunităţii, dar pe urmă n-a mai mers”, explică Rodica Mureşan.

Ea mai arată că cei patru copii au vârste cuprinse între 6 şi 15 ani. „De când a plecat mama lor, fata cea mare se ocupă de spălat şi gătit. Numai că nu au, bieţii de ei, uneori, nimic ce pune pe masă. Se plâng tatălui lor că le e foame şi nu au nimic ce să mănânce. Au zile în care tot ce mănâncă sunt fructe de pădure”, mai spune ea revoltată.

Mai mult, femeia spune că bărbatul nu are obiceiul să consume alcool şi că face tot posibilul să-i trimită pe cei mici la şcoală. „Toţi merg la şcoală. Sunt desculţi, nu au ce să încalţe. Am fost pe la tot felul de organizaţii şi am încercat să le găsesc încălţăminte, dar deocamdată nu au”, mai spune ea.

 http://fixininimata.biz/2017/12/abandonati-de-mama-patru-copii-traiesc-intr-o-cocioaba-la-marginea-civilizatiei-toti-merg-la-scoala-desculti-ca-n-au-cu-ce-se-incalta/
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Associata Catharsis- Adoption Agency. Adoption and Disability Advocacy.

The President of Romania has sent a signed decree to parliament promoting some changes to the adoption law. adopției.

The adoption law, although said to be “new”, is in fact the “old” law with some minor changes. But the lack of transparency and the discriminatory nature of the law currently in force has not been changed. That law, nr.273/2004 has been very slightly modified three times since 2004: in 2009, in 2011, and in 2015. And all of that was due to pressures from society as a whole.

The modifications made by the National Authority for the Protection of the Rights of the Child and for Adoption have not really modified anything substantive, including adjustments made in April of 2015. Those adjustments really did nothing in favor of the children who find themselves “imprisoned” [apart from a permanent family] since the day that they were born.

There is really no hope for a permanent family for more than 23,000 institutionalized children in approximately 1500 placement centers. The new legislation really does not offer them one bit of hope.

The modifications do NOT foresee a way to truly reduce the number of institutionalized children, but rather foresees only a reduction in the time frame of adoption and also a leave time for parents to get to know the adopted child.
The modifications also allow for a subsidy of 1700 lei per month (about $425) for a time period of 1 year for one of the parents who adopt a child over the age of two years. And that’s about it.

The law continues to discriminate against children for whom a family in Romania or for whom a Romanian family cannot be found. Usually this has to do with the health of the child, the child’s ethnicity, and/or the child’s age.

The adoption law also continues to discriminate against Romanian families and non-Romanian families who live in countries that are signatories to the Hague Convention. The adoption law currently requires either Romanian citizenship, or the establishment/reestablishment of residence in Romania, i.e., to live continually in the country/territory of Romania in order to receive the evaluations and attestations necessary to adopt.

The adoption law does NOT in any way guarantee every child’s right, and particularly the right of abandoned children, to a permanent family in which to grow up.

We will protest these injustices even in the streets of Romania, and we will militate for the rights of these children.

July 15 – 2017

Alături de Caty Roos, psiholog și Silvia Tișcă, asistent social, alte 12 familii au finalizat cursul de formare a calităților parentale și au primit deja Atestatul de familie aptă să adopte un copil. Pregătim părinți, oameni minunați, pentru copii speciali.

Along with Caty Roos, psychologist and Silvia Tișcă, social worker, 12 other families completed the parenting training course and they already received the family attestation fit to adopt a child. We’re setting up parents, wonderful people, special kids.
Image may contain: 15 people, people smiling, people sitting

The Stolen Generations; Healing Old Wounds

Between the 1890’s and 1970’s, Aboriginal babies and children were forcefully removed from their parents. Few records were kept, but it is estimated that between 20,000-25,000 children were stolen. These children are referred to in Australia as The Stolen Generations. By doing so, white people hoped to put an end to the so-called Aboriginal problem and put an end to Aboriginal culture within a short time frame. The Stolen Generations were taken by Governments, churches and welfare organizations. Because few records were kept of who their parents were and where they had been stolen from, many never saw their parents, relatives, or siblings again. The children were raised on missions or with foster parents. The girls were raised to be domestic servants, the boys to be stockmen. Many were physically, emotionally and sexually abused and neglected. Leaving a legacy of trauma and loss. A cycle of generational abuse and neglect has been born out of a history of racial wounds.

Forcible removal of black children from their families was part of the ideology of assimilation. Assimilation was founded on the notion of black inferiority and white supremacy, which proposed that black people should be allowed to ”die out” through a process of natural elimination. The Stolen Generations were taught to reject their culture, their names were changed and they were forbidden to speak their native language.

Healing Old Wounds.

Acknowledging the wrongs of the past as a means to healing old wounds and reconciliation.

The first National Sorry Day was held on 26th. May, 1998 and Australia holds a National Sorry Day every year.

Formal Apology

On the 13th. February, 2008, the then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, tabled a motion in Parliament apologising  to the Australian Indigenous peoples, particularly the Stolen Generations and their families and communities, for laws and policies which had ” inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians”.

 

The Stolen Generations/Australians Together

http://www.australianstogether.org.au/stories/detail/the-stolen-generations

Australian Law Reform Commission | ALRC
http://www.alrc.gov.au/‎

16. Aboriginal Customary Laws: Aboriginal Child Custody, Fostering and Adoption
An Aboriginal Child Placement Principle?

349. The Child’s Welfare as ‘Paramount Consideration’.
In general, decisions on the custody or placement of children are based on a
single undifferentiated rule, directing attention to the ‘best interests of the
child’ as the paramount consideration. The ‘paramount consideration’ applied in
all cases of child custody can be illustrated by a clause common to State and
Territory adoption legislation. The Adoption of Children Ordinance 1965 (ACT) s
15 states that: ‘For all purposes of this Part, the welfare and interests of
the child concerned shall be regarded as the paramount consideration’.[35]
This principle (commonly referred to as the ‘welfare principle’) is also
applied under the Family Law Act 1975.[36]
and in cases in State courts involving custody disputes over children. It is
also relevant to decisions on fostering and placement of children in
institutional care under State child welfare legislation (although it is not
always spelt out expressly in the legislation).

350. An Undifferentiated Criterion. There can
be little dispute that the overriding consideration in all cases of child
custody should be the welfare of the child. The problem is that the relevant
legislation usually fails to define or specify the matters to be considered in
determining this.[37]
In practice it rests with the authority involved — whether judge, magistrate,
welfare officer or public servant — to decide what constitutes the welfare of
the child. Just as the forums for considering child placements vary from State
to State, so too, we may expect, do the values and standards of the persons
applying this principle in custody decisions. The Full Family Court of
Australia has pointed out the open-ended nature of the principle:

In determining a custody application the court must regard
the welfare of the child as the paramount consideration … Each case must be
considered in the light of all the facts and circumstances particular to that
case …[38]

 

 

 

 

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Romania’s Institutions For Abandoned Children Cause Life-Long Damage

Romania’s Institutions Cause Untold Damage

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Romania’s institutions have a history of neglect, physical, sexual and emotional abuse which still continues to this day and causes emotional, physical, and mental scars.

Institutionalized care, according to Dr. Victor Groza, the Grace F. Brody Professor of Parent-Child Studies at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, causes problems with developmental, physical, psychological, social and brain health. Dr. Groza stated, “The regimentation and ritualization of institutional life do not provide children with the quality of life, or the experiences they need to be healthy, happy, fully functioning adults.” They are also unable to form strong and lasting relationships with adults, leading to severe problems with socialization, primarily building trust and lasting relationships amongst adults and children alike.
This article, kindly provided by Dr. Victor Groza, is an easy to follow guide to the risks inherent to children institutionalised at an early age. Dr. Groza has been developing social work education and promoting best practices in child welfare and domestic adoptions in Romania, since 1991.
Victor Groza; PhD,LISW-S Grace F. Brody Professor of Parent-Child Studies, Director; Child Welfare Fellows Program Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.http://msass.case.edu/faculty/vgroza/  – Faculty website for further reading.

https://www.facebook.com/adoptionpartners/?fref=ts  – Website about Professor Groza’s post-adoption practice.

My Russian Side, By Alex Gilbert

This is Alex. He is adopted. He has a story to tell.

”My Russian Side” is Alex’s story of bravely undertaking a search to find his Russian biological parents and to uncover the truth about his past.

Alex longs to find the answers to questions. Questions he has held hidden in his heart for many long years.

Global warming hasn’t reached Russia. Alex’s sunny disposition and bright smile are in stark contrast to the dreary skies and decaying buildings of Rybinsk, where his birth mother is now living. A six hour drive from Moscow. Alex does not harden his heart against his birth mother and father when he learns the truth about his past. He doesn’t judge them.  His New Zealand adoptive parents would no doubt be very proud of their son.  Alex is grateful for a better life in New Zealand. Sadly, very few abandoned children are so lucky and International adoptions from Russia are now banned. Conditions in Alex’s old orphanage in his birthplace of Arkhangelsk are harsh and hopeless. Alex wants to provide comfort and hope to the hundreds of abandoned children left behind.

He is the founder of ”I’m Adopted” which is a Registered Charitable Trust in New Zealand.  You can find them on facebook helping adoptees around the world connect and find biological parents and siblings.

Please help Alex’s dream of a better life for abandoned children living in his old orphanage in Arkhangelsk. Visit the website; http://www.imadopted.org and donate.

Unicef in Romania; Minimum Package of Social Services.

 

Social aid brings renewed hope to families in Romania.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Romania/2016/Cybermedia
(Left to right) Ionel, Luca, Ionuț and Arabela sit on their bed in their home. Since Ionel became ill, the family has been unable to bring in the same level of income.

By Roxana Grămadă

In the village of Horgești, Romania, a social worker visit families door-to-door to make sure they’re receiving the healthcare and education resources they need.

HORGESTI, Romania, 10 February 2017 – It rained all night in Horgești, Romania, and the village is muddied through. The road smells of wet grass, damp earth and blossomed apple trees.

Arabela Corciu rushes to the gate wearing a pink flowery scarf and some worn out galoshes. “Come in, do not take your shoes off, we’ll clean up…” she says. A cat sleeps near the doorway, undisturbed by all of the visitors.

Arabela and her husband Ionel live in a small house with their three children: Ciprian, 12, Luca, 6 and Ionuț, 4. Ionel used to do odd jobs, mostly in construction, until he was diagnosed with a hernia. Arabela takes care of the house and kids. She raises a few Muscovy ducks and even a lemon tree. “I planted the seed and it grew,” she says, matter-of-factly. The tree is over a meter high and has its own place by the door.

Today, their oldest son, Ciprian, is still at school. The two younger boys sit watching TV on a bed in the family’s main living space – a tiny room of about 8 square metres. Their bed is a multipurpose thing: a couch for guests, a pad to sleep on, a desk to write homework and sitting area for munching. There is no table in sight, but a pleasant fire is cracking in the clay stove where beans are cooking for dinner.

Arabela and Ionel built the house together, when they got married, on land gifted by their parents. They were making ends meet then. Now, since Ionel got sick, it got harder.

Although he is entitled to social aid, Ionel was unaware of this until he met with a social worker, Mr. Arvinte.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Romania/2016/Cybermedia
Luca and Ionuț wait for the sun so they can play outside. The family’s social worker is helping them get a computer grant for the boys at their school.

Mr. Arvinte is blue eyed and looks like Ion Creangă, a storyteller known to many generations of children in Romania. He is soft spoken and people say he’s kind.

While the family’s doctor only occasionally makes house visits, mostly for vaccinations, Mr. Arvinte visits more than 1,170 of the 1,200 homes in Horgești. He works at city hall on a programme financed by UNICEF that reaches 45 communities within the county of Bacău. The programme is called Minimum Package of services, and he does just that.

“I knew they were living there, getting by somehow. I did not know exactly how, but I found out at the census,” he says of the Corciu family. “They needed a medical certificate from the labour medicine department. When there is a virus or a hepatitis outbreak, about 40 people come for consultations at the general practitioner every day. When is he or she to go for field trips?”

Mr. Arvinte helped the Corcius get a medical certificate and put together their social aid file. That is how Ionel now gets his medication, “Not entirely free, but almost half.” With the social aid, the family also gets insurance. “We got him prescriptions before, but he is still hurting, and he’s too afraid of shots,” says Mr. Arvinte.

The social aid programme also helps families connect with other resources available to them. Mr. Arvinte tells Ionel which specialists to see for his condition, and he provides guidance on education grants for the children.

“Have you filed for the computer allowance?” he asks Arabela. “There’s a grant in school, you are given 200 euros for a computer. Let’s do it, let’s do it.”

Arabela completed 8 years in school, and is so happy that her children get to go. Luca loves to colour and “got many stars” – little circle, clover and heart shaped pieces of coloured paper that are now neatly pinned to the curtains, like trophies. He received the stars for reciting poems.

“Here comes spring, / All throughout the country…” Luca’s voice is warm, his cadence like a song, as he recites the words from memory.

There are many other children like Luca and his brothers in the county of Bacău. They all need the same things: to grow up healthy, to go to school and to see a doctor when they’re sick. The Minimum package of services is invaluable to these children and their families, who may not have the resources to seek help.

The Minimum Package of Services the Corciu family receives is available to all families, but was created for the most vulnerable children and their families in particular. The services include healthcare, social protection and education that could prevent, at a fraction of the cost, many of the issues that generally affect these families: separating children from their parents, lack of minimum welfare payments, violence, early pregnancies, illness, school dropout or absenteeism. For these services to reach all families like the Corcius, a social worker, a community nurse and a school counsellor must exist in every community in Romania.

UNICEF in Romania is currently testing this Minimum Package of Services model in 45 communities in the county of Bacău, with financial support from Norway Grants, UNICEF and the private sector. The pilot model is independently evaluated, and the results are shared with decision-makers to develop new legislation, norms and standards and to mobilize state and European funding for national implementation and scaling throughout the country. The pilot aims to ensure that all children in Romania will be more protected, healthy and educated.

 

Updated: 10 February 2017

Half a Million Abandoned Kids; Moving Forward From South East Europe’s History of Shame

One Baby Abandoned Every Six Hours In Romania.

Report on Child Protection by Ioana Calinescu. Photos by Petrut Calinescu.

Looking at results in child protection can show an “X-ray of regional mentalities”, says Andy Guth. Child Pact.

“There is so much more to do for the children of Romania, but you need to know where we started from,”  Daniela Buzducea, World Vision.

“When the Police find a new child on the street, they call me first,”  Zini Kore, All Together Against Child Trafficking.

“These youngsters are so hungry they would eat the corner of the table,” Mariana Ianachevici, Child Protection NGOs Federation, Moldova

Hoping to increase the age that children in Romania are institutionalised, from three to six years old, Daniela Gheorghe, FONPC

Half a million children were left abandoned in eastern Europe following the collapse of Communism that began in the 1980s.

After more than 25 years of democracy, many of these countries’ record on child protection is now mixed. 

In 1997, while global concern focused on abandoned children in Romania, 1.66 per cent of the country’s kids were separated from their families.

By 2013, this had dropped to only 1.52 per cent.

This means 60,000 children have been recently cut off from their parents, according to the new Child Protection Index, a cross-border instrument launched this week in Brussels.

Most southeast European nations – including Romania – are fast to reform their laws, but changes are slow to improve the life of every child.

 

Belgrade, 2016. A tiny conference room, packed with civil society activists who have fought for children’s rights from the wider Black Sea and Eastern Europe since the fall of Communism.

Armenians, Georgians, Bulgarians, Serbians, Moldavians, Romanians, Albanians, Bosnians and Kosovars look at the findings of a comparative study as though they were the pass, dribble, tackle and assist of a football match.

A whisper rises up from the Bulgarian delegates.

“Romanian really undid us on this one,” comes a voice.

Despite the collegiate atmosphere among the members who all put the needs of children way above national interest, there is a still time to entertain rivalry between the EU’s two poorest countries.

The study has been developed in nine nations and shows how the lives of these “invisible” children changed over the last twenty-five years.

Romania was the country with the largest problem – with its abandoned kids running into the 100,000s.

The images of abandoned children after the fall of its Communist regime remain scars on the European collective conscience.

To stop the population decline in Romania in the 1950s, due to more working women and a fall in living standards, the Communist Party aimed to boost the numbers of Romanians from 23 million to 30 million.

In 1966, in a move to raise the birth rate, Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu de facto declared abortion and contraception illegal.

This resulted in parents abandoning children in hospitals after birth. The state then placed the kids in overcrowded institutions.

With the break-up of communism in 1989, the doors opened to a humanitarian crisis.

Today ChildPact is the only regional alliance that includes more than 600 child rights organizations. For the ten national members, ChildPact is the friends they grew up with; with whom they shared the same playground and the same stories. They know the group dynamics, the pacts and rivalries, the sensitivities and small victories.

Romanian doctor Andy Guth pours over comparative charts showing which child protection reform models  worked in spite of the east European national systems, and which tend to be corrupt and underfinanced, with low levels of economic development, bad laws and zero methodology of implementation.

 

Child outside block in Ferentari, Bucharest (copyright: Petrut Calinescu)

Child outside block in Ferentari, Bucharest (copyright: Petrut Calinescu)
“At the back of the institution: an image that still haunts me”

Spring, 1990, in Romania. Guth was a recent graduate from medical school and fledgling director of an orphanage in Onești. Here he was signing two of the first transfers to a hostel for ‘irrecoverable’ children, the official term for mentally or physically disabled minors.

These children were clinically healthy when they were admitted.

“Two weeks later, we received the first death certificate,” he says. “I immediately went to the hostel. The first thing I saw when I got out of the car was the graveyard behind the institution. They had their own graveyard!”

For Guth, this was ground zero – the initiation point for the child protection renaissance that would follow seven years later.

“It’s an image that will haunt me for the rest of my life,” says Guth.

Guth was one of the doctors on the frontline of humanitarian convoys in the nineties, facilitating the programs drawn up in offices abroad. They were known as ‘The White Guard’.

Many became civil society activists, who still play an active role in the reform of child protection.

Why did doctors take on such a role?

During Communism, medically-trained personnel were tasked with raising deserted children in unheated buildings that served as town hospitals. This abandonment was seen as a public health issue.

Twenty-five years later, Guth is presenting the results of the Child Protection Index, an international instrument whose development he dedicated four years to, coordinating the collaboration of 71 child protection experts from nine countries. He has worked on the project together with Jocelyn Penner Hall, World Vision’s Policy Director.

This has some disturbing information.

 

“One baby abandoned every six hours”

In Romania, the number of children separated from their families in 1997 was in the range of 100,000 for six million kids.

By the end of 2013, the number hovered around 60,000 for a total population of four million.

Taken together this amounts to a statistically insignificant change, from 1.66 per cent in 1997 to 1.52 per cent in 2013.

One reason for this is a gap between reforms on paper, and those on the ground.

For instance, between 1997 and 2007, Romania was pressured by the EU integration process to accelerate reforms. Now – according to the Index – Romania scores highest when it comes to public policies and legal framework, but still hosts the greatest number of institutionalised children in the region.

Armenia and Moldavia follow closely behind. At the other end of the spectrum, the Index results show that of all countries surveyed, Kosovo has parents who are least likely to abandon their children.

Meanwhile, in Romania today, a baby is abandoned in a maternity hospital every six hours.

What does the tiny decrease in infant abandonment say about child protection efforts over the last twenty-five years?

“This says that one cannot change the mentality of the public by responding to EU pressure alone,” says Penner-Hall.

“It’s been said that the year Romania joined the European Union marked the burial of [child protection] reform. With no external pressure, nothing remarkable happened. However, I believe that after 2007 smaller, more meaningful things occurred. The worst day ever was the first day of democracy in Romania; it was that day when the public conscience started to blossom.”

Guth also believes that the Index can also be seen as an X-ray of regional mentalities.

“For instance, the results prove that in Armenia 97 per cent of disabled children are taken care of by the state, while only three per cent grow in real families,” adds Guth.

“The Index also shows that in Georgia the exploitation of children through labour is not considered an issue. They think it is normal for some children not to go to school.”

 

Romania: number of kids in rural areas going hungry “doubled”

Back in the conference hall, Guth cautions that the results he is about to present are not part of a competition.

But he knows that the moment he opens the diagrams comparing the nine countries, the Romanians will look at where the Bulgarians stand, the Albanians will check Serbia’s scores and the Armenians will want to know if they have outrun the Georgians.

According to overall Index country scores, Romania is placed highest, followed by Bulgaria and Serbia. At a continental level, Romania has some of the most efficient child protection legislation. “The law is built upon the structure of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child,” says Guth. “In theory, Romania rocks.”

But in practice, the Eurostat data shows is that, as of 2013, the child poverty rate in Romania exceeded 48.5 per cent.

A 2014 World Vision report stated that eight from 100 children in Romania face extreme poverty, living on less than 3.5 Euro per day. The same study testifies that one out of eight children in rural areas go to bed hungry.

This percentage doubled between 2012 and 2014.

“There is so much more to do for the children of Romania,” says Daniela Buzducea, Executive Director of World Vision Romania. “Then again, to see how far you’ve come, you need to know where we started from.”

Daniela is part of the first “free” generation of social workers in Romania. Only in 1994 did Post-Communist Romania have its first graduate promotion in this field. Before this moment, this occupation did not exist.

In the 90s found Daniela in the homes of some of Romania’s most vulnerable children. She was trying, on her own, to prevent the separation of children from their families.

“To me, the Romania of those years is HIV positive children who got infected in hospitals,” she recounts.

In the late 1980s, thousands of children in Romanian institutions contracted HIV due to blood transfusions from syringes infected with the virus.

“The real moment the reform started is encompassed in a scene when I was visiting a young mum with an infected baby,” says Daniela. “She had no form of support whatsoever. She was going through hell. I also had a small baby at home, and apart from visiting this woman just to reassure her that she was not completely alone, there was not much else I could do.

“One day, she was diagnosed with cancer and lost her hair because of the treatment. When I went to see her, on the wall of her house was written the word: ‘AIDS’. She had locked herself inside. She could not even take her child to the hospital because people would throw stones at them. In reforming its social protection system, this is the point from which Romania started.”

 

“If I had not been there, the kid would have been lost”

Albanian Zini Kore represents the national child rights network “All Together Against Child Trafficking” (BKTF). For almost twenty years Zini earned respect on the streets of his country’s capital Tirana. Not just with the homeless kids, but also with the cops.

“When the Police find a new child on the street, they call me first, to pick him up and only after that do they contact the authorities,” says Zini.

Kids know they may not have much in this life, but at least there is someone fighting on their behalf until the end, no matter what kind of end that may be.

Zini never drives. No matter where duty calls, he always crosses town on foot, searching through the labyrinthine streets, scanning for homeless children.

There was a time when his phone rang incessantly – at day and night. The terrified voice of a street child on the line. No one knows the magical and subterranean paths his phone number travels to reach the kids in the city who need him most. He always grabbed his clothes and left.

“Had I not been there the exact moment the Police accosted a child,” he says, “the kid would have been lost in the inferno of the correctional institutions. From there, there is no way out.”

Today, his phone rings less often. Thanks in part to Zini and his organisation, who work hard to compensate for the state’s lack of involvement, the lives of street children have improved. But the underlying problems persist. The Child Protection Index shows that only Bosnia surpasses Albania when it comes to neglecting the situation of street children. It also demonstrates that the region has a major problem regarding the involvement of authorities in effective protection solutions.

When asked about his kids, Zini proudly mentions his boy, who is still not legally his son. He will soon turn 18 and then Zini will start the adoption procedures. It’s easier this way because at this age the young man can make his own decisions. He is one of those street children Zini fought for.

Child Protection “Mall” in Sofia

George “Joro” Bogdanov doesn’t talk much and when he does he fishes for the right words in English.

He is not a born public speaker. But he is a man of big ideas. He succeeded in putting child protection on the public agenda with an annual gala event where The National Network for Children in Bulgaria recognize citizens whose work improved Bulgarian children’s rights and prosperity and awarded them with the statue of a Golden Apple.

Now he has a new vision: The Children’s House in Sofia. This will be something like a child protection “mall” with conference and meeting rooms for child protection events and workshops; offices for the coalition’s NGOs; playgrounds for children and an educational centre for children with special needs; accommodation and a restaurant for international and local guests. Following a social enterprise model, he wants to hire disadvantaged young people to run the place.

Everybody has told him that he was crazy to even think he could raise the huge amount of money necessary to carry out his idea, but Joro went ahead and did it anyway.

He is now building the House.

 

“How am I supposed to feed a teenager with one Euro a day?”

Among the group gathered in Belgrade, Moldovan Mariana Ianachevici’s laughter is the loudest. It’s contagious, the kind of laughter you want to cling to in the midst of a large and unfamiliar gathering.

If one can still laugh like that after twenty-five years of helping victims of trafficking and abuse, and if one can still talk about taking home the last ten unwanted teenagers from a closed orphanage in Chisinau, there must be a parallel world better than the statistics suggest.

Mariana Ianachevici is a three-time President – she is President of ChildPact, the President of the Child Protection NGOs Federation in the Republic of Moldova, as well as the President of her own NGO, which has assisted more than 1,200 children over twenty years.

“The future President of the country,” she laughs, before relating stories about surviving the winter with canned vegetables and frozen fruits harvested from her NGO centre’s tiny orchard.

“How am I supposed to feed a teenager with one Euro a day? This is all the state gives me. When they sit down… these youngsters are so hungry they would even eat the corner of the table!”

And the story continues, about Valentina, the Centre’s long-time accountant, who never comes to work without a homemade cookie. Just to have something nice to give the kids.

About another lady, Rodica, an older employee of the center, diagnosed at infancy with polio and brain paralysis, of whom all the children are so fond, because she hands out gifts of pretzels, nuts and kind words.

 

“If only every child had an adult to protect them”

Daniela Gheorghe is executive director of the Federation of NGOs for the Child (FONPC). Blonde, tiny and delicate, Gheorghe wrote history by strengthening the role of civil society in Romania. Her eyes brighten when she adds that “in all these years, we mostly fought the Government.”

Her mission has been to forbid the institutionalisation of children under three years old, and she now hopes to increase this age to six.

The Index shows that institutions taking on children under two years old occurs most often in orphanages in Bulgaria, while the countries most protective of this age group are Kosovo, Georgia and Serbia.

Gheorghe earned her psychology degree in the nineties when the humanitarian convoys opened the doors of the Romanian orphanages.

She enrolled in salvation missions, and was part of the first teams to work with abused children in orphanages. At that time, she had no idea she was joining a battle that would change her life.

“After five years, I fell into a depression that would last for six months,” Gheorghe recalls. “I couldn’t distinguish colors anymore, I was seeing only black and white.”

She was representing abused children in lawsuits with the aggressors and, during her last trial, Gheorghe experienced a miscarriage. She was never able to have another child.

Nevertheless, she developed a bond with three of the girls whose own trauma of abuse she helped overcome, and today she considers them her daughters.

“I am not a mum, but I am some sort of a granny,” she says, as she flicks though pictures of the beautiful girls on her Facebook page.

One of them is a hairstylist and has two children of her own, another is studying physical therapy and the third is working with children diagnosed with autism.

Gheorghe has found joy in seeing the girls develop into independent women.

“It’s no big deal,” she says. “I just fought for them. If every child had an adult to protect him or her, we would change the world.

U.N.I.C.E.F in Romania; Education

BUCHAREST, 16 September 2016 – During 15 September – 15 October 2016, Carrefour and UNICEF in Romania continue their efforts to support education, for the third consecutive year, by organizing a fundraising campaign. Carrefour customers shopping in the 30 hypermarkets available all over the country can choose to donate 1 leu at the cashier and help disadvantaged children to attend school and receive a quality inclusive education.

In Romania, around 300,000 children are out of school and one out of five children fails to complete eight years of study. Moreover, nearly 40% of the 15 year-old students were assessed as functionally illiterate, according to the 2012 PISA test results. The children most at risk of dropping out of school are those from poor families, Roma communities, rural areas and children with disabilities.

In response to these issues, UNICEF and its partners has been testing the Quality Inclusive Education Package in 45 schools from Bacău county. This package addresses both the quality of education and the school participation of all children, especially vulnerable ones. It includes child-centred interventions at school, family and community levels. The education package is universal, as all students and all schools can benefit from the respective interventions which focus on preventing non-enrolment, absenteeism, dropout and early school leaving, as well as on increasing learning outcomes and competencies.

This school year as well, we continue to support children and their families to confidently access education. The best way to succeed in life is through education, however many children are hindered by poverty, their biggest challenge. We are happy to join UNICEF once again in its effort to provide these children with a chance to enjoy a better life, including an affordable and quality education. The UNICEF endeavour allows us yet again to prove that we are a lasting partner in providing support to the local communities we work in. The fundraising campaign is based on our customers’ generosity in giving one leu at the cashier and coming to the aid of children and their families”, said Andreea Mihai, Marketing&Communication, PR&Solidarity, Trade Dynamics&Pricing Director, Carrefour Romania.

The fundraising campaign benefits from the support of Ms. Andreea Marin, National Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF in Romania.

Results in education are visible in the long term and sustained investment is required to generate change. We are happy that, each year, Carrefour and its customers support vulnerable children’s participation to quality education. In schools in Bacău county, I have met children, parents and teachers who are proof that improved child education is the result of a partnership between school, family and community”, said Ms. Despina Andrei, Communication and Fundraising Manager, UNICEF in Romania.

Funds raised through this campaign will go to strengthening the capacity of the school management and teachers to support each and every child, according to their needs; improving teaching methods and tools; partnering with families and increasing parental skills; mobilising communities to support education; enhancing children’s non-cognitive skills and motivation; encouraging diversity of students regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion, (dis)ability and socio-economic background. The objective is to ensure that every child enrols in school at an early age, learns to the maximum of his/her potential, and is prepared for the labour market and active citizenship.

Carrefour is one of UNICEF in Romania’s long-term partners and, over the years, Carrefour customers have helped 15,000 children from 32 schools to receive education as part of the School Attendance Initiative. Thus, in some of the schools, all children succeeded in completing the courses, while the dropout rate went down to 0%.

***

About Carrefour: 

With over 10,100 stores in 34 countries, the Carrefour Group is the second largest world retailer and the number one retailer in Europe. For more than 50 years, Carrefour has been a partner in one’s daily life. Every day, the retail group welcomes to its stores more than 10 million customers worldwide, providing them with a wide choice of products and services at fair prices.

In Romania, Carrefour Group includes 281 retail stores of which 30 ‘Carrefour’ hypermarkets, 111 ‘Market’ supermarkets, 43 ‘Express’ convenience stores, 10 ‘Contact’ convenience stores, one online store (www.carrefour-online.ro) and 86 Billa stores.

 

About UNICEF in Romania

UNICEF is present and active in Romania and in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. In Romania, UNICEF works closely with key stakeholders such as the Government, Parliament, local authorities, civil society, the private sector, national and international partners and the media to provide all children with access to quality early and school education, to protect adolescents and monitor child rights, to ensure social protection and leverage resources for children.

 

U.N.I.C.E.F in Romania-Adoption Procedures

Increased chances of new family for ‘hard to place’ children

The number of forms to be processed was halved, some of which were simplified
Today, 17 August 2016, the National Authority for the Protection of Child Rights and Adoption (NAPCRA), with the support of UNICEF in Romania, held a media briefing on the recent changes and additions to Law 273/2004 regarding adoption procedures and related methodological norms.
The event was attended by: Ms. Oana Țoiu, Secretary of State/Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Protection and the Elderly, Ms. Gabriela Coman, President of the National Authority for the Protection of Child Rights and Adoption, and Ms. Sandie Blanchet, UNICEF Representative in Romania, as well as representatives of local and central authorities involved in the adoption process.
Any child’s place is with a family and it is our duty to do everything we can to speed up and simplify the process through which more and more children in state care are placed with a loving and protecting family. This is what we have been aiming to accomplish through the recent regulations – eliminating any red tape that could hinder the adoption process for children and any forms that could challenge a family’s hopes for a quick onset of the adoption procedure. I would like to thank all those who contributed throughout the law amendment process and I believe that it is worth all our efforts to provide children who have no home with the chance to enjoy parental love”, said Gabriela COMAN, NAPCRA President.
During the meeting, participants tackled the main revisions to the law, such as: the number of forms used in the adoption procedure was reduced by half (whether by taking them out completely or combining them) while some of the forms retained were simplified, the mandatory requirement to submit workplace references was dropped, the mandatory requirement for adopting parents to submit the full documentation when lodging their adoption request was also dropped, and a profile of the ‘hard to place’ child was introduced in order to increase the chances of finding these children a home.
We commend Romania for improving its legislation on child adoption, including through innovative measures like introducing the profile of ‘hard to place’ children. UNICEF will continue to support NAPCRA in its development of services at local level to prevent child-family separation, such as the Minimum Package of Services”, said Sandie BLANCHET, UNICEF Representative in Romania.
To date, in our country, there are around 58,000 children in child care, of which 3,250 are adoptable. 46% of the adoptable children are aged between 7 and 13, and more than 21% have some form of disability.