The day started back at the site where our group split into two, one to do cleanup around the site, and the second to pull more nails out of wood. Soon after, a third group was formed to move piles of wood out of the way. The jobs that day were a lot of clean-up and preparation for the next group coming in on Saturday as sadly it was nearly time for us to leave. At this point, the roof was nearly finished and the support beams were being taken down to allow work on the next building stage.
Nearing a break, the group was called over to the Romanian school we have been building next to. It was here where we truly got to understand the reason for all of our work. With Adi to translate, we met a worker from the school who told us of the severity of the situation involving the children at school. This building taught grades 1-8, a smaller range than our own school, but at the same time, in a significantly smaller space. We counted 5 classrooms and one more classroom that was converted to a gym still with its carpets, chalkboard, and teachers desk. We learned about the olympic accomplishments of Romania in gymnastics and the children’s love for football and tennis, although they are not always able to play for lack of equipment.
The already small classes dwindle by the end of 8th grade with a 50% dropout rate, parents become less interested to keep their children in school, despite the compensation of 30 Euro a month up to 8th grade, and urge them instead to get jobs and get married. Instead of highschool, these children are starting adult lives at 13 or 15 simply because it is too expensive to continue learning. Because of this there are only two highschools in Buftea and not a single college. The first highschool teaches agriculture and industry while the second is technology based. For learning skills outside of highschool, there is the option to go to community centers where admission fees are high, the classes are too big, and the students don’t end up learning much. The result of all of this is limiting the possibilities to the generations of children.
Now, in case there was any doubt of the potential of the children here, we were introduced to a young boy who goes to kindergarten in the area and recited a 99 verse poem. Not only did he recite it word for word, but he understood it. He raised his voice and hands to express the emotions. A six year old, learned this off of YouTube alone. And we saw the potential of these children who are held back from their education.
Our mission in this building was to provide a safe and reliable place for these children to go after school, after work, or whenever they can to learn in proper classes the skills they can use to stand up for their generation and change their country run by an unjust government. The government that despite claiming democracy and freedom, still requires cameras in every classroom by law. A government that refuses to spread it’s funds equally. Adi told us of how Romania has everything anyone could want, a full four seasons, a seaside, beautiful mountains, and a common quote: “Romania is such a beautiful country, it’s too bad its populated” We want to change this through our community center, and are honored to be a part of this amazing project.
Ellison & Pritha