Let’s Unite for Children!
© UNICEF Romania
This issue of the newsletter explores the human dimension of the financial and economic crisis. We start by looking at the overall picture based on the findings of the crisis monitoring surveys UNICEF has been conducting over the past two years. Then we go behind the statistics and talk to the children and families and hear their stories. They tell us how they are coping with joblessness, migration, reduced income, lower welfare and the stark reality of not being able to put enough food on the table. We hear testimonies from families living in a run-down apartment block in Alba Iulia on how they are coping, or not, with the vagaries of the crisis. And we hear from a family doctor on how the situation looks from the point of view of a medical professional.
The picture which emerges is a grim one. The view from the bottom of the food chain is not pretty. We learn what the term “social exclusion” means to people struggling just to survive. And yet there are flashes of real hope and optimism. Even in the poorest of the poor households, children have ambitions. They want to go to school and make something of their lives. Parents will sacrifice everything in order to help their children realise their dreams.
Impoverished communities also rally around their own in times of great stress, as we learn in the account from Turturica. Small unsung NGOs are quietly doing invaluable work in the poorest places to keep the human spirit alive. We hear about the work of the CERME (Centrul Român de Modelare Economică) in Turturica and how Caminul Phillip in Bucharest’s Ferentari is giving hope and sustenance where once there was none.
One notable lesson is that even a small amount of outside attention to a community can have the effect of spurring action by local authorities and the residents themselves. We see that in Turturica. Perhaps, if a similar spotlight could be put on each and every socially excluded community in the country, we might have hit on a way to arouse a strong spirit of self-help and social inclusion. The best way for marginalised communities to get out of the “social exclusion” category is to get mobilised and “socially include” themselves. It can be done, as the experience in Turturica testifies. But the authorities and civil society must provide sustained help and encouragement. They must adopt the spirit of “social inclusion” in the real sense of the word by taking what action they can – even moral support – to assist the disadvantaged in their cities, towns and villages.
Finally, this issue touches on the impact of the recession on private sector fundraising, an area on which UNICEF Romania depends a lot in order to fund our programmes.
UNICEF Representative in Romania