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Charity that travels far !

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About Romania / Why Romania? / Why Romania – The need

The recent turbulent history- Communism: 1947-1989
In 1965 Nicolae Ceaușescu became head of state and by some accounts led the most rigidly Stalinist regime in the Soviet bloc. Ceaușescu's government was overthrown in the December 1989 revolution, and he and his wife were executed following a televised and hastily organised two-hour court session
The totalitarian excess and oppression of the Ceaușescu era left Romania severely impoverished” (Hope and homes).
The country has since faced a complicated transition to a market economy” (Everychild).
During the communist period a pro-natalist policy of banning contraceptive methods and abortions produced a high number of unwanted children that were left in the care of state institutions (UNICEF Romania).
  • The current economy

    During the 2000s, Romania enjoyed one of the highest economic growth rates in Europe but it's development suffered a major setback during the late-2000s recession  which led to a large gross domestic product contraction and a large budget deficit in 2009 which led to Romania borrowing heavily, eventually becoming the largest debtor to the International Monetary Fund in 2010. Worsening economic conditions led to unrest and triggered a political crisis in 2012.  Romania still faces issues related to infrastructure, medical services, education,and corruption with a widespread black market economy. “The pace of reform is slow” (UNICEF).

    Another major concern is emigration, which has kept unemployment low but is seen as a threat to the country's future.

    The number of Romanians working abroad in 2010 is estimated to be around 3 million persons nearly 10% of Romania’s population.

    Salaries - An average Romanian resident doctor earns approximately 450€ a month whilst in Western European countries the average can be in excess of 3000€.
    An average Teaching salary in Romania is approximately 350 €  whilst in the UK it is 2300€ .

  • Social services & Childcare

    In the past, the population relied on the State to provide jobs and social support but with the collapse of communism came an end to such dependency. Civil society and social services have had to be reconstructed from scratch (Relief fund for Romania).

    Regarding children & family
    There continues to be considerable gaps and new challenges regarding the realization of the rights of vulnerable, excluded and discriminated children in Romania. There are still children, especially adolescents, living and/or working on the streets, as well as children victims of trafficking, although Romania is increasingly becoming a transit rather than a source country. Children with disabilities, children with HIV/AIDS and Roma children are still victims of stigma and discrimination. The rights of children with mental disabilities living in public institutions are not being fully met.

    In parallel, children from poor and rural areas are more likely than other children to be abandoned, institutionalised, to drop out of school, and later to be found on the streets. Furthermore, there are emerging issues such as the potential negative impact on poor rural families of the agricultural reform and on children left behind by parents migrating to other countries in search of better job opportunities. Currently “One-quarter of the population lives below the poverty level” (World vision).

    Weaknesses in preventive and integrated community-based services, combined with poor family care practices and changing social norms mean that “placing a child in care is often the first, rather than the last choice for desperate families” (Everychild).

    Children in institutions live in an unnatural environment, which might prevent them from acquiring experiences that are necessary for developing life skills. Involving the children in regular ‘household’ activities is still not common practice; furthermore there are limited possibilities for these children to engage in hobbies. As well, the participation in real life activities is limited, leading to likely failure in future social integration (UNICEF).

    Another problem faced by children in care are the difficulties associated with adoption meaning they have less chances to escape the care homes. Currently the EU is pressing the government to change legislation that would make national adoptions easier.

  • The Education system

    The understaffed and underpaid education system is in need of resources and modernization. Most of the teachers welcome the support of volunteers (UNICEF Romania).
    ”Romania today, with a population of 21.5 million, has more than 500,000 illiterate, 76 percent of whom come from rural areas. According to one report by UNICEF last year, the drop-out rate tripled in Romania in the 2000-2009 period, with 20 percent of children giving up school.
    “There is little incentive for those with an education to join the teaching profession. The average wage of a teacher is around €400 per month, and many prefer to find other work or go abroad to find a better job (Diana Toma – Romania: Education on the verge of collapse).
    The majority of the children at the care homes where Care2Travel work struggle academically. Additional support using non-formal teaching methods can greatly enhance their motivation to learn.  When leaving the ”system” many of the children's futures are uncertain. With English being a highly desirable language now that Romania is in the EU, additional English teaching could considerably enhance their future prospects.

  • The forgotten volunteer destination

    Overseas Volunteer destinations are often based in “exotic” locations where poverty is on a scale most Westerners have never experienced. Whilst there is no doubt that these regions are in need of development and support this does not mean that other countries should be ignored as suitable volunteer destinations. Google “Volunteering in Tanzania” or many other neighbouring African countries and you will see a plethora of volunteering projects. Google volunteering in Romania and your search will not be so fruitful. Sometimes in our quest to help we can overlook our very neighbours whose struggles are just as real.