The charity’s Treasurer of 30 years, Michael Evans, died on 13th January after a fall at home and subsequent illness in hospital.
Michael was Mary Gibson’s partner and supported the charity she had started with great dedication and efficiency, though he used to say “I’m a soldier, not an accountant!” It was his job to keep the charity’s accounts in order, recover Gift Aid and make payments to the Harja bank account each month.
Michael was on the point of retiring towards the end of 2020 and we had found someone willing to take on the role in his place.
Betty and the Harja carers keep in touch with the children who have flown the nest and were delighted to hear from Ancuta (29), that she is to be married this summer. She works in Brasov, a city about an hour from Harja, where she is a kindergarten teacher.
Covid restrictions have eased in Romania at the moment and Ancuta was able to join the celebrations for Maria’s birthday at her adoptive family home near Brasov, along with the children from Harja. A wonderful celebration that was even more special when people have been separated so long!
Starting from January 2021, Friends of Children in Romania is partner in the Erasmus Plus KA201 Project D-MANeD – Dance- Music -Arts – NLP – eLearning for Educators.
The Kick-Off Meeting was held online, via Zoom on the 12th of January, and it set-up the timeline and milestones of the project, the responsibility of each partner and deadlines.
Funding: The project is funded by The Dutch National Agency Erasmus+
Duration: The project lasts for 34 months, and
Partnership: The partnership involves: (1) SkillsUp Training & Research Services NL (2) Friends of Romanian Children RO (3) National College Anghel Saligny RO (4) Roes Cooperativa EL (5) Vassiliadi School (EL) (6) Center for Social Innovation CY (7) Grammar School CY (8) Friedenauer Schule DE.
The main purpose of the project is to address the needs of primary, gymnasium and high school teachers and educators working with minorities, fewer opportunities youth and rural youth in creating innovative approaches that are more inclusive, using digital environments, and dealing with emotional understanding. Thus, the project supports participants (prospective teachers) to deliver high-quality teaching that deals with the complexity of the learners by focusing their approaches on inclusion, improving attainment and continuing education as well as empowering learners.
TANGIBLE Results Include:
✏︎ The D-MANED pedagogical approach in teachers’ training and development – four Training Courses (IO2);
✏︎ The D-MANED survey to identify the teachers’ needs, as well as their interests, motivation to assimilate new teaching methods, approaches in non-formal and experiential education.
✏︎The D-MANED interactive handbook (IO1);
✏︎ Research reports and studies on online education and teachers’ training;
✏︎ D-MANED platform with courses for teachers’ professional development (IO4);
✏︎ Evaluation reports;
✏︎ D-MANED newsletters or information leaflets;
✏︎ D-MANED recorded tutorials (IO3);
✏︎ Blended Mobility for Young People in which we will involve the children in the partner organisation.
INTANGIBLE Results Include:
✏︎ Knowledge and experience gained by participants, learners or staff;
✏︎ Increased skills or achievements;
✏︎ Improved cultural awareness;
✏︎ The mission, vision and values of the project better language skills.
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication post reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
Our three eldest children have all passed their final school exams, taken during lockdown. Two of them, Ali and Diana, are applying to universities. Albert, strongly influenced by his upbringing, is interested in social assistance, and also in construction.
Diana is applying to do communication and foreign languages at Bacau University. She is a happy girl with a good sense of humour.
Georgiana has had enough of studying for now and plans to go to England with her boyfriend. She was a very good student. Now she wants freedom and no rules!
As we celebrate their success, it’s a time to reflect on how Friends of Children in Romania has helped them grow and given them stability, love and encouragement after very difficult beginnings.
Ali was brought to Harja from the maternity ward in the city of Arad when he was six months old. His mother had left him after his birth. He got in touch with her two years ago, but no relationship could be built up. He met his parents last Christmas but was very disappointed and said: ‘I realise now how lucky I was to be raised in Hârja by the charity and to have the love and affection and care of Mary and of all the staff involved.’
Diana came to Hârja when she was eight months old, after her mother died from an infection. She came with Lidia, her sister, who is now a graduate and lives in Cluj.
Georgiana was two years old when she came to us. Her mother took her to Child Protection as she had nowhere to live and they were sleeping in a park. She kept in touch for a few years until she went to live in Italy but it was never a close relationship.
Since their exams, all the children have been enjoying summer activities such as picking cherries and fishing. The older children ones have now returned from a well-deserved camping holiday in the Eastern Carpathians, paid for with money refunded to us by the transport authority, as a result of lockdown schooling.
Many thanks to all those who support Friends of Children in Romania. If you would like to make a donation or take out regular Direct Debit payments to support us, you can do so securely here.
Here we are representing a glimpse of the Friends of Romanian Children’s association houses.
Friends of Romanian Children was founded by Mary Gibson, a mother and grandmother
herself, who was so disturbed by the images that came out of Romanian orphanages after the 1989 revolution that she flew there to help, initially raising funds and sending out workers, eventually setting up the Friends of Romanian Children project to give these children love and a family life.
Experiential Learning Forum re-Edu Project involves volunteers from all over the world in intercultural interactions and creative activities with the purpose of improving the community and bringing self awareness to both children and adults.
We asked the children about their life, future plans and beautiful memories. Watch their answers from the video below and embrace the happiness and the warmth that they send to everyone around.
The Project debuted with the first Activity (Volunteering Team One) on the 4th of July 2020. 13 people – four locals from Harja and Poiana, with Ali, Dan and Diana from the organisation and Alexandra from Poiana Sarata, four youth from around Romania Gabriela and Roxana from Suceava, Ciprian from Craiova and Eryani from Bucharest, five youth from abroad Iliana from Germany, Ilyas from Latvia (Moroccan national), Vijay from Hungary (Indian national), Muhammad and Aqeel from Hungary (Pakisatan nationals).
Ecology Activities in Harja and Poiana Sarata
It appears that these days all we hear about is the tragic impact our actions are having on the planet. With hundreds of people suffering from hunger, millions of tons of waste getting into our oceans, hundreds of animal’s species entering into endangered category, it’s time for us to ponder and wake up before it gets too late. However, not everything is horrendous, there are still many organisations and individual people who are burning their midnight oil to keep the Mother Earth clean and sustainable. “Friends of Romanian Children” is one of those organisations. FoRC aims to transform Harja from a village to a trash-free touristic spot.
We usually observe that our rural areas, especially picnic spots, rivers, natural beauties which were made for us, are full of trash, garbage. The main reason behind this is the fact that we do not consider it our own property. We need to protect it because only “The Earth is what we all have in common.” —Wendell Berry. In order to put this awareness message into practice, Experimental Learning Forum gathers volunteers from all around the globe to start awareness and cleaning sessions, in which we gather around dozens of bags with trash from the village of Harja and Poiana Sarata, from the river bank and places where people usually do barbecue or spend time.
FoRC mainly focuses on arranging projects that aim to give social awareness about the adverse effects of pollution on the rural areas and the nature around it. It is the second week of the Experiential Learning Forum project, and the whole context that we created is all about learning by experience.
What we did?
Fifteen volunteers from different countries spent a total of 200 hours during 4 days, cleaning the area that was full of old clothes, bottles, pieces of plastic, bags, glasses and various objects that do not belong to nature.
What we became aware of?
ELF project helped our volunteers to become aware of undiscussed effects of the pollution on people’s and animal’s life and then chain reactions of those sufferings. Our volunteers are now fully aware of the fragility of our environment and importance of its protection.
What we propose?
Our team proposed to have at least one day per month for cleaning the village and also, after spotting the hot places for trash, we informed the municipal government to carry the garbage on a daily basis. Apart from that, our team posted the social awareness posters on the commonly visited places of village and talked to locals about the importance of keeping tha area clean.
What is the conclusion?
The conclusion is that every person should take care of the environment. Before doing anything which is harsh for the environment, just think of the consequences that other people and nature has to suffer because of that. Our volunteers answered some questions about this topic and shared some personal insights.
The ”Raibais kaķis” association, in cooperation with organizations from Italy (Mine Vaganti NGO), Bulgaria (Social HUB Association) and Romania (Friends of Romanian Children) starts the implementation of the project “EntrepRURAL socialy”. EntrepRURAL socialy is a strategic partnership project for the exchange of good practice. The project is financially supported by the ERASMUS+ Youth in Action program.
”EntrepRURAL socialy” is a Strategic Partnership in the youth field aimed at promoting the role of Social Entrepreneurship (SE), in combination with Non Formal Education (NFE) and practical learning, as a tool for enhancing social inclusion and employability of disadvantaged sectors of the youth population from rural area.
Social entrepreneurship is becoming more popular, as it is the best approach to develop, fund and implement solutions to social, cultural, or environmental issues. The project is focused on exchanging good practices between the countries involved in the project by promoting social entrepreneurship of young people in rural areas. The partnership is expecting three mobilities in Bulgaria, Latvia and Italy for youth (18-25 years old) who want to learn and focus on entrepreneurship and develop their business idea. Each mobility has a specific theme: the first one is personal growth (who I am as an entrepreneur), the send one is storytelling and how to use it in order to promote one’s social entrepreneurship and the third one is digital opportunities (how to use digital tools in social entrepreneurship). For each mobility and topic, a handbook will be created.
The first activity planned within the project is an international meeting of partners from 11 to 12 July in Latvia, within which the further course of the project will be planned. The first youth mobility of the project is planned in Bulgaria in November this year.
The project “EntrepRURAL socially” was funded with the support of the European Commission “Erasmus +: Youth in Action”, which is administered in Latvia by the Agency for International Youth Programs. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
Schools closed in Romania on 11 March and will not re-open until September. So now the children continue do their lessons online. This has posed a few difficulties as they have only a small number of laptops and tablets and all of them need to work on them at the same time. Thankfully, two people have generously donated funds to buy two more, so that has made life a little easier.
Betty has taken on someone to help teach the younger ones as they are all at different stages and it is too much for the carers to take on. They have much to do already with cleaning, washing and cooking. Instead of working their usual 8-hour shifts two carers stay for two weeks at a time, to minimise to-ing and fro-ing beyond the houses. They have all been tested for the virus and are fine.
The little ones are finding it hard to do so much online learning – hardly surprising! Betty felt Stefan was getting quite miserable, so she bought him some new Lego and he was thrilled. “How did you know that is exactly what I wanted to make me happy?” he asked her. He and Gabi built this pagoda of 1500 pieces in two days.
The older ones will still be taking their exams, and they are working hard. Sometimes the school makes them do tests at 8 in the morning – not easy, especially for teenagers!
The girls are brilliant cooks!
The children miss their school friends and sometimes get bored but as Lala said:
“I like that we get to know each other better!”
If you would like to support the charity and help us meet the unexpected costs of lockdown learning you can make a donation here.
Under lockdown most of us are restricted to socialising with just a handful of household members, or perhaps no one at all, but while our children in Hârja are not able to mix with their friends, they are enjoying the benefits of living in a big family. This means that they can still celebrate occasions, such as the start of the Easter holidays, together with their carers without gathering around a screen and connecting on Zoom!
And some of them are spending time cooking and helping out in the kitchen.
Everyone in Hârja is looking forward to Easter, which in Romania will be celebrated on Sunday 19th April, in accordance with the Romanian Orthodox Church.
Thank you for your continued support. If you would like to make a donation to the charity you can do so safely here.
Schools in Romania closed two weeks ago to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading. The children are continuing to do school work at home and they have also been helping with tasks at home.
Their houses are heated by wood-burning stoves and so a lot of fuel is needed. Supplies for next winter have already arrived and the children worked hard to stack it in the shelter. It took them a week! ‘We were very proud of them for doing such a good job,’ says Betty Grigoras, Project Manager.
We are happily sharing that Friends of Children in Romania hosted 31 youth workers, from 9 #EU countries in the “Training 4 Trainers” training course financed by #erasmus#erasmusplus from 20-30 October, in #Comanesti.
The #youthworkers developed abilities in working with youngster from disadvantaged areas through the following:
1. Practising training and presentation competencies for facilitating transfer of EU common values
2. Developing public speaking skills for presenting to groups and audiences
3. Engaging and managing group dynamics Gaining better rapport with the target groups
4 Improving personal professional and organisational development through self assessment and creating action plans
During the “T4T” Training Course group, joined another activity, a youth exchange group who attended the project “Be On Your Way 2” hosted by Asociatia Generatia Schimbarii and went for a “Ted Talk” event in #Comanesti at Colegiul Tehnic “Dimitrie Ghika”. ✊
👉 The participants in the T4T delivered speeches about “Success in Life” in front of the audience of 100+ guests.
👉 We went on further to visit the organisation AGES and run workshops with the youngsters participating in the Youth Exchange (56 people) on tools for their careers 👉 As an ending some of the participants offered to be “Living Books” in the Living Library organised by AGES NGO 🥳 The day ended with Romanian Traditions – Bear Dance & Romanian Wedding
Throughout the 9 days of activities the group explored through NFE methods a variety of tools, as mentioned above and had the chance to work a lot on managing states
and speech in front of a group, as well as giving feedback to each other.It has been challenging,getting the group out of the comfort zone. Furthermore, many sessions and individual interventions were recorded as a measure to have a clear track of improvement, and extracting learning points. A highlight was the moment when the group worked on humour and learning how to effectively use the microphone.
Even more, we had activities together with the youth group from the Erasmus+ project that happened in parallel, where our trainers planned specific activities for career guidance/ career development to be in line with their topic. And it was a great success.
As we reached the end of the training activities we managed to structure several follow-up projects in order to get the cooperation with the partner NGOs further. Some ideas are related to the commonly identified needs of the communities represented by the youth workers such as: Emotional Development, Entrepreneurial Skill-sets in Real Life simulations, Team Work Communication or Stress Reduction.
We would like to THANK the involvement of all the youth workers present, the support of our partner organisations, and Stephen Molnar for sharing new tools with a committed group of youth workers.
It has been an accomplishment for all of us, it brought new learnings, it created new collaborations, it managed to bring out follow-up ideas for future projects and made us willing to keep doing what we’re doing.
CONGRATS TO ALL!
Later Edit. (January 2020)
The Dissemination was a success in each of the partner countries, and we would like to share the photos and some of the remarks received from the youth workers.
A link to the T4T handbook with tools & methods for trainers can be downloaded here T4T_HandBook_Erasmus+