Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children

by IBO ITALIA
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
Education for 50 disadvantaged Romanian children
We grow together
We grow together

Landing finished, the wheels roll quickly and the speed decreases. Here we are. Hurray!

I love to fly but that anxiety of the first flight never leaves me.

Here we are: Otopeni International Henri Coanda, Arrivals.

After a couple of hours I'm on the bus on my way from Bucharest to Panciu. From the window the road runs fast, the landscape returns to being familiar to me as if I were here the day before. And it is nice to see the Romanian countryside. In summer it is decorated by large coloured sunflower’s fields.

After 3 and a half hours of travel, on time, we arrive in Panciu. I take my big suitcase plenty of different things that people gave me knowing I was going to Panciu: carnival costumes, sweets and Italian coffee for the staff and volunteers.

I get off at the so called "Notar" (Notary) bus stop, because it is just opposite the notary's office. The statue of Ioan Slavici with the serious look is in its place in front of the school and on the other side of the street I see the "Piata", the market and shopping area, with benches crowded with Roma families who frequent the Pinocchio Center.

The children are the first to crank their necks with curiosity. Someone came from outside. Then the mothers, aunts, grandmothers, brothers and cousins, and the other indefinite relatives turn and talk to each other with their eyes turned towards me. A few hands rise and say hello. I greet too.

Someone gets up and starts crossing the street to come and see more closely, always the children are the first.

The questions begin: who are you? Your name is… Linda? And another suddenly intervenes "ba nu este Federica".

And I am amazed to see how much the children have grown up. Fernandito (little Fernando) is now taller than the elder Fernando. So, now I realize that a year and a half has passed and in between there has been, and unfortunately there still is, a pandemic.

And while other questions follow one another “How long are you staying? Why were you away? Do you remember of this person and the other one? ", the volunteers of the Lumea lui Pinocchio association arrived. The kindly came to welcome me at the stop.

Right now the Romanian staff is helped by a nice team of 7 volunteers from different countries: Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal and even Bangladesh! Some of them arrived in October 2020 others more recently in March 2021.

Every day the volunteers help to serve lunch and snacks, they invent games and workers every day.

During the school period they supported the children in distance learning. Many children who attend the Pinocchio Center have no computer or internet at home, and they are not supported by their parents. For them, the Pinocchio Center was the only chance to not lose the school.

Jade, a French volunteer who arrived in Panciu last October 2020, saying that: "In June we prepared a show with them, with dances, theatre. They presented to their parents. Everyday we propose different activities to help the children to learn new things, based on a thematic: on Monday it's creative, we do origami, paintings; on Tuesday, we organize workshops about different important topics (bullying, violences, body consent, team work). Sometimes we use short movies to start to talk about a subject that the movie is about. Wednesday it's sport, we play games all together in the garden, we try to create a new game each time, where they have to run, use a ball, and cooperate. Thursday its strategic games. They played treasure hunt, labyrinth. And on Friday we do life-skills activities like gardening, sewing, cooking. We also try to promote healthy food and we cook different fruit-based recipes. "

My 10 days in Panciu run very fast into an atmosphere of reborn serenity, meeting the children at the Pinocchio Center, playing with them and with the smiling, generous and welcoming volunteers and staff. I came back to Italy together with a young volunteer who finished her 11 months of Voluntary Civil Service, she arrived in Panciu at the end of September 2020.

In her final report she wrote: “I'm Gabi, I'm 27. Thanks to IBO I was able to realize one of my dream: to have an experience abroad like the one just ended in Panciu. At the Pinocchio Center I worked with Roma children (approx. 4-13 years) with disadvantages, unfortunately. Illiteracy is widespread. Even more serious, however, is the lack of care.

Among the families of the children that attend the Pinocchio Center, we often face another important social problem: the alcoholism. And when this problem occurs, children are left behind, and even without food, due to economic difficulties or negligence.

Me together with the other volunteers and the staff of the Pinocchio Center have worked and are working, to help those children have a better future and at the same time to break down the rooted thought of prejudice towards them.

In these months I have had the opportunity to carry out many different recreational / educational recreational activities with children with the team of volunteers, the educator Oana and Mihai the coordinator, but also didactic activities to try to fill the serious basic gaps: knowing counting, doing simple math operations, learning letters and reading. Each activity is designed to develop a specific area; example: sensory-motor area: movement, outdoor sports activities; sensory area: develop the 5 senses; emotional area: knowing one's emotions and then becoming familiar with them, through the theatre.

The work of the Center is very important for these children as they need a safe place suitable for them, where they can find the support they need, care, attention, and at least one meal a day.

I think in this way they can have a future - in the future. "

I return home thinking that generosity really can change the world. I really THANK YOU because you believe in this project and support it.

Thank you for being part of this wonderful team which, despite the efforts, the fear of uncertainty about tomorrow, we believe that by helping children we can build a better future.

Water game
Water game
Gabi
Gabi
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The year 2021 has started in the best way in the Center Pinocchio! Lights on, doors open, the smell of freshly baked cake populated by faces and stories from many different countries: France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Vietnam! In the office, the new coordinator and social worker, Mihai, is committed to promoting and supporting the activities of the center in the best possible way, to create a network on the territory, to strengthen relations with the families of the beneficiaries. In the kitchen every day Mihaela prepares hot and always different meals with her mother's hands, to feed the children who have just come out of school and the volunteers who are waiting for them to spend the afternoon together. After lunch, divided into groups, our volunteers together with Oana give support in carrying out the tasks and propose non-formal education activities to develop the creative potential of all the children present. Given the gaps accumulated during this year of pandemic for children who were unable to follow school consistently, it was decided to build a "special" program to recover the basics necessary for attendance and understanding of the lessons, made up of games and engaging activities to train the basics of writing, reading and math, cultivating the motivation to learn.
One of the volunteers present through the European Solidarity Corps program, Elena, decided to tell us about her experience of these first months of service, made up of surprises, great challenges, learning and new friends!

 

Buna ziua!

My name is Elena, I am from Berlin and four months ago I went to Romania to do a social voluntary project with children in Panciu, a small city in the eastern part of the country. Many people have been asking me „Why Romania?“ and I always thought to myself „Why not?“. The world is big and I want to see as much of it as possible! And it is true - ever since I left my country, I got to know a whole other world that I never could have imagined before. Being part of a project in an unknown context really made me get the feeling than I am more than a tourist and I want to share with you here what i mean!

The Center Pinocchio is a daily Center for children, most of them are part of the Roma community. After school, they come here and we have lunch together and help them with their homework. After this, we do creative activities or games outside, at one point we also did a treasure haunt through Panciu. For this, we hid small notes in different places, starting at the supermarket, and then proceeding at the pharmacy and the local Cafe – and in the end they recieved a price. So you see – we are trying to be creative!

On the one hand, we sure want them to have fun and be happy, but on the other hand, we also try to support their education. Many of them lack essential bases, like reading, writing and calculating with bigger numbers. But not because they are stupid or simply don‘t want to learn but because their school system does not provide enough help for them. Besides this, their family sitautions are often complicated, dealing with violence or alcohol problems – shortly: they often lack the needed support.

This is why we started with a special afternoon program where we seek to expand their bases. We try to keep everything non-formal in order for them to have fun and stay motivated. Even if this is not always easy - with the right methods we have already done a lot - and with the time I have become really creative! Once for example we did a game where they had to write letters using their butts or a big maths game where we hid the results for the different tasks all over in the room – so it stays exciting!

It is clear that the childrens‘ life will not change just because of an afternoon program done by volunteers but it is essential to ensure the basis in order to be able to do the fist step to break the circle. With some children that I have been doing plus and minus tasks regularly during the last weeks, I could already notice some progress and seeing the children so happy and proud was unbelievable and one of the most beautiful things I have experienced here so far.

For what concerns the language I have made the experience that there is no better way of learning than learning with children! As almost none of them speak english we have no other choice than doing everything in Romanian and by doing this, the progress comes very quickly. The most popular sentences are: „Nu vreau“ (I don‘t want to), „Nu mai vorbesc cu tine“ (I don’t talk to you any more“) but also „Te iubesc“ (I love you).

Of course, it is not always easy. Many things I imagined differently and sometimes I really feel the need to express myself better than I am able to. But I am so happy to be part of this project and I can feel myself growing from day to day. The love and affection you can give to the children and the amount of love they give back to you is incredible and provides you with the needed motivation - I will stay blessed!

I will go on hiding maths results and I am happy about new ideas for non-formal ways of leraning and teaching, so feel free to hit me up!

Until then, o zi frumoasa and la revedere! Have a nice day and see you soon!

 

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distance learning at the Centre Pinocchio
distance learning at the Centre Pinocchio

Dear friends of the Centre Pinocchio,

we’re writing you because we want to share with you what happened in the last months...very difficult months, but full of good news!

At the beginning of March, the Romanian government’s provisions for facing COVID-19 emergency caused a sudden interruption of the centre’s activities. After six months of closure, starting from September, we decided to do everything possible for the re-opening, always respecting limitations and provisions in force in this particularly complex period.

A first important step to support families and children in view of the beginning of the new school year has been the distribution of various material: back-papers, notebooks, colours and clothes. A first, little sign of closeness.

We then submitted a financing request for accessing to local public funds to sustain the Centre Pinocchio, with the hope of strengthening local contribution to our project. We cross our fingers to receive support also from local authorities!

At the same time, we started looking for new people to involve in local staff. The desire and the will to take off again with socio-educational activities became even stronger and more pressing as families and children started knocking at the centre’s door, asking for the possibility to come back to live the centre, to meet new volunteers, to find again their spaces and landmarks. It seems that, throughout the pandemic period, the relation between families, children and the Centre Pinocchio has become stronger; probably because, for the first time in so many years, they’ve concretely felt the lack of a welcoming place, where they can feel at home, a place made to measure for children, This situation, then, allowed children and families to rediscover, once again, the value of the centre.

A month ago, the Centre started to live again thanks to the arrival of four young volunteers from Italy, France, Spain and Germany. Then arrived Minh, a Russian-vietnamese volunteers responsible for the tutoring of other volunteers, with experience in the field of psycho-pedagogy and social pedagogy. A nice intercultural air came back in Panciu!

Since the beginning of November, new colleagues joined local staff: Mihai, coordinator and future social worker, and Oana, educator and kindergarten teacher. By their side, they found Mihaela, cook and responsible for the centre’s cleaning, Any Mary, collaborator for the social services’ sector; and Alina, accountant. Finally, a new team ready to start! A precious recourse is also Benedetta, a young ex-volunteer, who decided to collaborate with IBO Italia in this particularly challenging period and move to Panciu for some onths in order to contribute, with her enthusiasm and energies, to the re-opening of the centre.

In support to this valuable team and to the re-opening of the Centre, we luckily receive unexpected donations: Validsoftware, an organization that collects ICT material for the benefit of disadvantaged children, gave us 8 computers; the association PACT, a vocational training centre for minors and adults, brought us provisions of food for the canteen, clothes, games and educational material, detergents, electronic devices for equipping computers for children’s distance learning. A real godsend gift!

After a first period of training for the local staff and after having got back in touch with children and families, we accepted the challenge of re-opening the Centre Pinocchio, with the aim of fostering scholastic online attendance. For these disadvantaged children, to attend online lessons at home is almost impossible for the lack of basic conditions like internet connection and ICT devices.

Thus, we can happily tell you that, since three weeks, the Centre Pinocchio is again open and active: every day, promptly on time at 8 am, a first group of 10 children runs to the centre for attending online lessons with the support of volunteers and staff; in the afternoon, a second group of 10 children animates the centre. The canteen is working again and daily provides children with a hot and genuine lunch, in order to contribute to their healthy growth.

It goes without saying that the year 2020 has been difficult and painful. For those ones that lost loved ones, for those ones who had to face loneliness, for those ones that dealt with working and economic challenges. As it often unfortunately happens in difficult periods, who pays the hardest consequences are the "last ones": those who previously had disadvantaged conditions at social, economical, educational and cultural level, that already prevented them from living a serene life. Among the “last ones”, there the children and families beneficiaries of the Centre Pinocchio. 2020 has highlighted to what extent the work of the centre is precious and fundamental in order to break the vicious circle of discrimination and to contribute building a better future for them.

The new provisions on contagion’s prevention impose a series of restrictions that inevitably cause new efforts, in terms of human and economic resources. We strongly hope that we can count on many people’s affection, who are following the Centre Pinocchio’s adventures and will continue supporting its activities for the benefit of the most vulnerable children and families of Panciu.

Thanks from the bottom of the Centre Pinocchio's heart for supporting this special project!! We wish you all a Meery Christmas!

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Afterschool
Afterschool

Dear friends,
September has come, a September of a very difficult year for everybody and everywhere.
In Panciu, life is trying to go on as always, even if the new context born out of the recent COVID-19 pandemic has further aggravated inequalities and economic problems. The number of vulnerable families is increasing and the fear for the future is constantly growing.

School is going to re-open after many months. Since 9th March 2020 - since the state of emergency was imposed - the school and the daily centre Pinocchio have been closed due to governmental provisions to limit contagion and teaching has turned into distance learning. As a consequence, children with huge scholastic difficulties found themselves completely deprived of their right to learn, because in the majority of their homes no computer, no tablet and neither any internet connection is available. Furthermore, most of their families are illiterate and, thus, cannot follow the rhythms of distance learning or provide support for homework.

The role the Centre Pinocchio is called to carry out is thus even more important in this particular context. The Centre is still closed and we are re-organizing spaces, resources and daily programmes in order to guarantee safe and healthy conditions for the staff and the children. Re-opening means also to respect a series of special measures (hygienic-sanitary devices, limited number of accesses, the reorganization of work and personnel, etc.) aimed at limiting the danger of contagion. These provisions lead to an increase in costs for the Centre Pinocchio, which, combined with an extremely difficult economic situation, cause serious concerns.
The Centre, now more than ever, needs the help of friends and donors in order to be again a point of reference for disadvantaged children, to offer them socio-educational support and to guarantee a daily meal for the poorest ones.

Here below, we want to share with you all the words of the Centre Pinocchio’s educator.

“When, some years ago, we thought about changing the name of the association from “Rom pentru Rom” (“Roma people for Roma people”) into “Lumea Lui Pinocchio” (“Pinocchio’s world”), we did not imagine that the change itself will be something positive and it will achieve results in short time. Now I only can imagine that every child is a Pinocchio. Their life has changed since the moment when they stepped from the center gates. As I am working here for 15 years, I met many generations of children, of volunteers, and of colleagues. Each of them had left something behind, and you can find their mark in every corner of the Centre Pinocchio. Between us and the children, the exchange was reciprocal teaching. I learned that we should be happy about every simple thing which life had given us, about every smile those wonderful children had shown. Speaking about changes and results, there is much to say and maybe words can not show reality. I am not able to make you understand how much it matters for this center to continue working and how important is this reality for children of Panciu. At the Centre they are children, here they live their childhood, here they receive love and affection which they do not find home, here they can smile.
Center Pinocchio is “home” for these children. Imagine that when this project started, only 6-7 children were going to school. Now all children who are attending the center are also enrolled in school, that is 54 children. Their attendance to school is a good result. Thanks to after-school programs, scholastic drop-out decreased, school results increased and the rejection rate has decreased. Relations with the institutions are much closer than in the past. School respects now what we are doing; they realized that thanks to the Centre these children are cleaner and healthier,also thanks to to the canteen program that provides food necessary for good growth of their age. They are more respectful and they have improved school conduct. I realize how much this center is important for these disadvantaged children and families, just thinking about their individual stories...Just to give you some examples:
-M., a child abandoned at 2 months by his mother, left under the care of his grandparents, lived in a single room with many more family members. It was difficult to register him to school, and when he came to the center he was very dirty and neglected. Now he goes to school, but without his grandparents encouraging him, which makes his frequency not very good, but it is a good start. At the center he receives hot water, soup, a toothbrush, warm food, help with the homework, educational activities, and most importantly warmth and affection. It is not easy, he grew up and vices are easy to be taken. He started smoking, he started to skip school, we were with him with advice and rebuke. Here there would be need for a special help such as a counselor or a psychologist, which the center lacks. It is important that M. is healthy, happy when he comes to the center, where he does the homework, eats healthy and plays football with the volunteers. He likes playing football a lot like other boys from the center.

Another boy who likes playing football is F. He come from a very poor and disaggregated family. His father had never agreed to let him goes to school, but he went in spite of this. He is now grown up, continues going to school and enjoys coming to the center. He is a kind and intelligent child. I like to underline that his older sister Dorina has never been to school and she learned to write and read with us, with Pinocchio. Now she is attending “second chance” program for children who exceeded the school age and can no longer be register at the normal school program.

Another child about whom we can speak is N., a girl who is now no longer a girl, she has grown up. She is at fifth grade which is a good result as she continues to go to school in spite of the fact that she came from a big family with big financial problems. Her courage exceeds the difficult situation, and makes her go forward with her grandmother and sister M. who is at first grade this year. She really needs a lot of support with her homework but she’s ambitious.

There are many other children, each one of them with a complex story and with little daily achievements. I hope these words make you realize how much it matters that this center continues working and how much we appreciate your support. It would be extraordinary to keep in touch and to be able to offer those wonderful children a chance of serene life, our support, and the education that a child needs to grow up and become a beautiful adult.

The Centre Pinocchio thanks you for all your supports and hopes that you will keep standing by our side, even in this particularly difficult moment!”

Happy Birthday, N.
Happy Birthday, N.
Recreational activities
Recreational activities
Community activities
Community activities
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Everything will be fine
Everything will be fine

This year, the Easter period was very strange, for everyone.

In Panciu, Easter was lived with the hope that the Pinocchio Center will open soon again its doors to the children as soon as possible, and the rooms will see its tables occupied by the little smiling guests with the steaming plates in front of them, and the atmosphere will be full of screams and laughter, as before.

In fact, due to the Covid-19 epidemic spreading in Europe, the Romanian government has issued restrictive traffic measures and other directives to prevent the spread of the virus, and since 11st  March 2020 schools have been closed and  they will be closed until next September.

So, the Pinocchio Center has to adapt to the government provisions for the wellbeing of children and of their families. In fact, for them who live in limited and crowded spaces, in precarious hygiene and health situations, the infection is very risky. The block of movements and the reduction of jobs have made situations of poverty even more difficult. 

The Center is closed but the Solidarity goes on...

Monica, the teacher, and Mihaela, the cook, together with the volunteers Agnese, Eva and Estefania are keeping the contacts with the families and the children at home. They are weekly preparing and delivering packages to the children in need with food, clothes, school and hygiene materials.

During the Easter week 14 bags were brought to Valea Brazi, where some of the poorest families of Panciu live.

Monica said "It is difficult to keep the distance: the children ran to me smiling and greetings, my heart broke and tears came to my eyes to see them in that situation, without anything and we are not even allowed to play with them in this period, it is very sad. We have to do something."

That's why we are making an extra effort and we would like to go on and continue delivering basic need issues at home to the poorest families.

We are repeating to ourselves the motto "Everything will be fine". The volunteers wrote it on the wall of the Centro Pinocchio, in Romanian: "Totul va fi bine". 

We really want to thank you for your support and wishing you can tell to other friends about our project and so we will be able to multiply the Solidarity.

The epidemic is stopping many activities but the solidarity can go on!

Totul va fi bine
Totul va fi bine
Preparing the food for the packages
Preparing the food for the packages
Delivering basic need packages at home
Delivering basic need packages at home
Solidarity goes on
Solidarity goes on
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IBO ITALIA

Location: Ferrara - Italy
Website:
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Twitter: @IBOItalia
Project Leader:
Federica Gruppioni
Ferrara, Ferrara Italy
$11,474 raised of $14,580 goal
 
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