Even in the EU you can walk down a dirt track and find yourself back in time in a medieval reality – albeit with the occasional satellite dish poking out of a hovel.

No matter how long we’ve worked in this country the level of poverty experienced by the marginalised communities never ceases to amaze us. Unfortunately, the cultural discrimination against the Romany-gypsies is so engrained, we’ve been openly laughed at by Romanians for working with “people that can’t be helped”.

“Their [Romany-gypsies] Romania is like something out of a Dickensian novel. It’s dirty, poor beyond belief, and the stench is indescribable. But the children laugh and sing and want to hold your hand and have their hair braided and ask you questions about all the mysteries of the West. Their faces will stay with me forever.”

Elizabeth, Volunteer, Dec 2013

Alparea & Urvind Pre-School & Homework Help

When T4U started our first pre-school programme in Urvind (where only 1 in 10 adults could read and write) only 5% of the children attended the local state school. Now over 75% of the community‚ children now attend. Of course this created its own issue as we then experienced a high drop-out rate because the children struggled with their school work with little assistance at home. Therefore we started daily afternoon Homework Help classes which provide the necessary support and structure for the children as well as fun through crafts, games and play.

Without the pre-school the Romany children often struggle settling into mainstream school. Not only do they have less knowledge than the other village children, but they have had no experience of the social situations that school presents and this causes problems for the children and the teachers

Anna-Marie, Teacher

Empowering Women

In poverty it is always the women and children that are effected the most. In Urvind we have been taking teams to do crafts, activities and basic health education with the women. The main purpose of these teams is to facilitate the realisation in these women that they matter, that they can take an active role in their communities, stand up for their daughters and can work together. These teams are all about providing the space and opportunity for these women to come together and realise they can have a positive impact on their community.

When we started visiting Urvind with this programme none of the women had employment outside of the duties of their home. Now, we are pleased to see some with jobs in the local factories and young girls with aspirations to be nurses, teachers or flight attendants! Dreams that weren’t dreamt a few years ago and just may have the power to change things.