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ROMANIA: Rural After-School Center and Humanitarian Aid
In rural Romania nearly 40 % of the population lives in poverty, consisting primarily of subsistence farmers, unemployed rural workers and female heads of households. Children brought up in these homes--usually comprised of one-bedroom shacks with a wood stove and no running water, face extreme hardship, often hunger, neglect and a lack of support to gain a solid education.
In Marasti, an area where historically less than 10% of students go on to study after 8th grade, project partner FAVOR’s after-school facility, the “Rainbow Center,” has become a positive beacon of hope, giving the children the opportunities to succeed academically, and eventually break the cycle of poverty.
At the well-equipped and brightly painted Rainbow Center, 32 children (grades 1- 8) arrive after school and eat a nutritious meal. Activities include homework and remedial help, recreation and crafts, and learning IT and culinary skills. When the center opened in 2012, most of these children had failing grades and some were illiterate. Now, with the help of dedicated staff, donors and volunteers, they have made tremendous progress, with many excelling at school. Within 2 years of opening, the first five 8th grade graduates performed well in difficult National Exams and FAVOR arranged for them to be able to attend high schools in the nearby city, and the trend continues.
FAVOR distributes large amounts of aid to Marasti and the surrounding villages, by holding regular community “Free Store” events for hundreds of families at a time, distributing supplies at hospitals and handicapped centers, and conducting house visits to bring packages to the most destitute. The children receive shoes, clothing, and regular parcels of food to take home, as well as home visits to assess needs. FAVOR Volunteers built an additional room on the small house of a family of six. Pigs purchased helped another young family toward food-sufficiency, and donated beds, mattresses and quilts provided children in many households with their first chance to sleep comfortably.