When Romania’s communist regime fell in the December 1989 Revolution, Nicolae Ceaușescu’s reign of political repression and human rights violations was at last brought to an end. Alas, the Revolution also brought the closing of local oil refineries in Berceni, a commune near the city of Ploiesti, leading to layoffs for its inhabitants, who were subsequently plunged into extreme poverty. Today, the majority of rural women and children in Berceni survive off social assistance programs, which provide a meager 28 Euros per month per person – or 104 Euros per month for a family of eight.
Berceni is far from an isolated case. Today, Romania’s incidence of rural poverty is over 70%, the highest in the European Union.
In villages like Berceni, children are deprived of quality basic education. Schools are dilapidated and lacking in books, learning materials and, in some cases, running water and indoor toilets. Moreover, qualified teachers are scarce, owing to the absence of competitive salaries and adequate housing in the area.
Unemployed young people and rural women are also stripped of the opportunity to find work and improve their life prospects through vocational training. Locals have little or no access to computers or the internet and are being left behind as an understanding of information and communications technologies (ICTs) becomes more and more essential in the country’s increasingly knowledge-based economy.
The situation is dire, but the commune’s government is stymied by state budget cuts and paltry tax revenues as a result of Berceni’s high unemployment rate.
The solutions we’re proposing
W4’s field project in Berceni is implementing a project aimed at building educational and employment opportunities in the commune’s villages by increasing women’s and children’s access to and training in information and communications technologies.
Through this project (and thanks to the donation of new and used computers, printers, scanners, desks and chairs) computer labs have been opened for children in five kindergartens and two middle schools in the commune. With the creation of a Computer Science summer school, approximately 150 school-aged children can now benefit from free computer lessons, introducing them to new ways of learning, living, and thinking. Thanks to these courses, children are not only more motivated and engaged in learning, but are also able, from an early age, to achieve a mastery of technology that is necessary if they are to grow up to escape poverty and enter the workforce.
The project also runs a 430m2 community center in Berceni, giving villagers free access to computers and the internet. Out-of-work women can enhance their future employability through IT training while also benefiting from job counseling, help with CVs, and support throughout their job search.
Since many people in Berceni suffer from hunger, which naturally hinders effective learning, the project also ensures that women and children are given a meal of a sandwich and warm soup during their IT training.
Upon completion of their IT training, rural women and children are provided with a certificate of competency, an official qualification that is recognized by Romania’s Ministry of Education.
The impact of giving
Your help is needed to build computer labs with internet connection in more of Berceni’s schools and to replace current labs’ malfunctioning computers, thereby creating access to IT training for more women and children.
By equipping children in Berceni with knowledge, skills and a thirst for learning, you increase their chances of passing their high school entrance exams. Your encouragement helps them to continue their schooling and become qualified for stable employment in the future.
Your donation also enables rural women to access the support and capacity-building opportunities they need in order to get back on their feet, find a reliable job and improve their families’ standards of living.
Join us in revitalizing Berceni’s communities; Donate today and discover the power of education and ICTs in helping individuals to overcome isolation and exclusion!