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Speaking with one voice: children stand up for their rights

by Ana-Maria C

My name is Ana-Maria. I am 16 and in the tenth grade at one of the best secondary schools in my area. I live with my mum, my younger brother and my grandmother in a village around 20 km from town and commute daily to school. My father died just after I had finished first grade.
Ambitious, optimistic and confident in my own ability, I managed to overcome the bullying in school and finished all eight grades with straight As. I knew that this was the only way out – to get a college education and find a good job. This is also how I will be able to pay my Mum back for working a nightshift so that she could be with us during the day.

When I finished eighth grade, a lot of changes occurred in my life. I had to say goodbye to my former colleagues and teachers and my brother also said goodbye to his headmistress, who was like a second mother to us. At the same time, my mother finished her second year of college and began her final year, the most difficult one.

During the summer break, we had good news too: I was top on the list to get into high school, and one day our parish priest came to our home and told me that from September I would be part of a school support programme.

I don’t think that last year I could have managed in school without the support of this programme. In town, the costs are almost double what they are in rural areas, and the bus pass can be as much as 100 lei a month. The programme both helps us cover some of our monthly expenses and provides moral support, encouraging us to continue with our education.
 
This “family” of wonderful people means a lot to me. Even though we have been together for only one year, it seems as if we’ve known each other for a lifetime. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve worked as a real team and we’ve had fun in summer camp over the holidays.

The other students and I have talked about poverty in rural areas, human and child rights, parental and pupil responsibilities, sexually-transmitted diseases, the discrimination around us, the importance of a family, a home and education for a child and other topics. I also go to meetings organised as part of another social inclusion programme for marginalised children

We are like a family: we all have equal rights and we would like all children in the world to join us on our journey and fight with us for our rights. We will lobby for the rights of the children and make sure that they are observed.

I’m proud to be part of these programmes. I try to do my best in all activities, because I’ve been provided with clothes, books, hygiene products, stationery, the joy of being a child, the opportunity to get good marks in school and the encouragement to go even further, to move beyond the hardships of our family life and to see the glass half full.

by Ana-Maria P

I like going to the centre because here people listen to you. I am an easygoing person and I’m glad that I have an environment in which I can develop. I can go to maths classes where detailed explanations are given and take part in groups that help me cope with daily life.

With the support of the programme groups, I can show the people I know how to behave so that people do not look down on them and how they should present themselves for an important meeting. When I have problems, I’m glad that there is a psychologist here who can listen to me and give me the advice I need.

Even when I make a mistake, the people here explain to me kindly what I ought to do. I’m new to the programme and I’m looking forward to learning new things.

by Nicoleta Z

I found out that I would be part of this programme in 2008, and this scholarship has been of great help to me. I was selected to be part of the Our Rights (“Drepturile noastre”) programme, because every child has the right to express his or her own opinions.

I believe that this programme could change ideas and the decisions that grown-ups often make for children, because adults are always saying that we are too young to make decisions, even at 18. This programme emphasises a lot the right to life, health, education and ethnicity, and I think that all children should be treated equally, whether they are poor, rich, Roma, Romanian, ill or well.

However, today many parents abandon their children because of lack of money. I think that if the people who have the power to change children’s destinies listened to everything we did in this programme, it would mean a little progress in the history of Romania and a lot of progress for the future of children. Not only was I able to pay for some of my textbooks and notebooks, but the foundation helped me make new friends and take part in various educational and social activities.

Financial support is very important for me and my family, because Mum takes care of me and my elder sister, who is in university, alone. Without the support of this project, I wouldn’t have been able to attend any high school courses, even though I got very good marks in the high school entrance examination. Mum couldn’t afford my daily bus fare to school or all the stuff I would need when I got there.

 

 
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