Imagine you are six years old and starting school today. You have never really spoken the language that all of the teachers at the school speak because that is not the language your Roma parents speak at home. There is no one at the school who teaches you classes in your native tongue. Because no one in the Roma settlement where you live has indoor plumbing, you are not able to look and smell like everyone else. You have never owned a new pair of shoes or anything new for that matter.
On your first day of school, your teacher yells loudly at you and you don’t really understand anything but you know she is upset with you even though you aren’t certain why. The teacher points to your makeshift shoes and then holds her nose and communicates clearly what the problem is. Your face turns red and you are embarrassed not to have clean clothes and shoes like everyone else. Your older sister comes to get you after class and the teacher tells her you are not to come back until you smell and look better and can understand her commands. So, like all of the other children in your settlement, you stay home and become another illiterate statistic. If you happen to be female, at twelve years old, your parents are possibly going to arrange your marriage and, without knowing how to read or write, you will likely give birth to three children by the time you are eighteen years of age. If you are not able to feed and care for these children, you will easily accept that leaving them in the local hospital is a better outcome for them than being in your care. You reason that, at least there, they will have food, clothing and diapers.
Sound like fiction? It isn’t. It is reality for an astounding number of Roma children. And it is completely preventable.
After seeing the above problem for years in a Roma settlement where not one person was literate, our ministry began a preschool program called, “Good Beginnings” in the village of Santandrei, Romania (just outside of Oradea). The results have been miraculous but they came with much hard work.
Good Beginnings takes children as young as four years old and starts with teaching them the Romanian language in addition to their letters, numbers, and other basic preschool material. Our Romanian teacher, Rodica, is a phenomenal educator and sister in Christ that sets the bar high for all of her students…and most of them rise to the expectations she has! By the time the children begin primary school, they are fully prepared for the classes and the sponsorship we provide purchases their basic needs and addresses hygiene. Because the children attending primary cannot depend on their illiterate parents to help them with homework, we provide an after school program for them so they don’t fall behind and quit. The amazing results are all due to provision and prompting of The Lord. All children in the preschool and after school receive a modest meal each day in addition to vitamins. This is a critical project that also plays a huge role in infant abandonment prevention. It would not be possible without the generosity of our sponsors and their monthly sponsor-a-child support.
You can sponsor a child for $35 per month. This is the best way to help us with our ongoing budget needs.