In October 2015, general practioner and our club member, Carine den Boer, ran her 9th marathon in order to collect money for the project ‘Lonely Children’ for White Orphans in Craiova, Romania. As a VU University teacher for future GPs, she participated in a project in Craiova where, among other things, they observed local GPs during their consultations. She noticed that many relatively small children came to those consultations all alone. It turned out that there were no adults taking care of them.
Carine inquired with the GPs and it turned out that this phenomenon happens often in Romania. The reason is that parents who do not have enough money to take care of their family anymore, decide as a last resort to leave their children behind in order to earn money abroad. The money is used to feed the children. The children are then left in the care of grandfathers, grandmothers, other members of the family or neighbours. A number of these children are depressed and have difficulty with getting up all by themselves in the morning and going to school. Therefore, they often do not go.
In 2010, Carine wanted to run the Amsterdam marathon and support a good cause at the same time. She was immediately reminded of the children in Craiova. Thanks to the Soroptimist network she was able to get in touch with two members of the Soroptimist club from Craiova: Adriana Rotaru and Sabina Tobas. Adriana (a school psychologist, familiar with all children whose parents were working abroad) and Sabina (English teacher) were enthusiastic about Carine’s project proposal to look after the ‘White Orphans’. They were pleased to participate in setting up the project.
Most vulnerable children
The first money donated for the project in Craiova was used for setting up after-school (child) care in school 16, a school in one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Craiova. The 10 most vulnerable children were selected for the project. On 18 February 2011, the project started with this first group of children. A classroom was furnished and 2 teachers were hired for the project. The children were given a healthy meal as well.
At least 2,400 euros per year
The school management is very enthusiastic about the program. They notice the children have undergone major developments (7 to 11 years old). The children show improvements on both their learning performance and their emotional development: they flourish. Together with the Soroptimist club in Craiova, Carine sees to it that the project keeps running. Fortunately, Romania is a fairly inexpensive country (the salaries are low and the catering is cheap), so at the moment the project is running for 12 children who are taken care of for 5 afternoons a week. In addition, school supplies are bought. A 100 per cent of the donated money is spent on taking care of the children. In order to continue the project, at least 2,400 euros per year is needed; more money means extra things can be done for the children.
Carine has already been looking at which marathon she will run for the White Orphans in spring. On carineruns4children.nl you can follow her and make a donation for the project in Romania.
Did you know that in Italy alone, 1.5 million Romanian women work, often at people’s homes in order to take care of a member of the family who is suffering from dementia? They work 7 days per week and return to Romania for 2 weeks per year to have a holiday. Working abroad, the women earn about 900 euros per month against the Romanian average of about 200 euros per month.
Vertaling: Christel Koeleman