BOARD REPORT

On the activity of Fundatia de Sprijin Comunitar for the quarter January-March 2014

20.04.2014

ECONOMIC ASPECTS IN ROMANIA

The winter has been, for a first time in ages, a mild and pleasant period. It snowed enough to make agriculture happy and the disruption caused by snow was limited to a few days. After the last harsh winters the authorities managed to react by setting up teams and systems of rapid interventions. Even our villages were cleared quickly and we didn’t have to close the work due to blockages.

The unemployment rate remains high among all age groups, especially very young and older people. The jobs are difficult to find and the salaries are quite low. The minimum wage is now around 150 Euro which is hardly enough to survive considering that all prices can compare with those on the western countries. The fuel cost was recently increased by the government who introduced a new tax. The cost is now 1.46 Euro/litre. This increase is directly influencing all the prices in the economy causing more financial problems to the poor.

The political arena remains a huge "battlefield" as we get almost every day accusations, scandals and corruption. The coalition governing the country broke a while ago and the liberals went into the opposition. The power is now under PSD (social democrats) and minorities. The president and the party in power continue to be like “mice and cats” causing tension at high levels. This year we have European parliament and presidential elections and we already see a lot of actions for the campaigns.

Some huge corruption accusations went out with big names from football , politics and business going down to jail sentences proving that maybe the justice system is working after all.

Other topics

Does Romanian school educate jobless and emigrants?

"The education system was among the first sectors included on the list of negotiations for Romania’s accession to the European Union, and it rapidly passed this exam. The success was considered, first by westerners, both a proof of democratic and modern education, showing that in Romania this sector enjoys complete social adhesion, as prerequisite to the evolution of the society. Soon, however, to the stupour of the general public, new contradictions appeared in the Romanian education, which generated ever-increasing unrest. Some of the most powerful social protests in Romania took place precisely in this sector, and the problems that motivated them amplify each year. The fact that Education is allocated only 3.5 pc of the GDP, instead of the elementary 6 pc, added to the salaries in this field, which are very low compared to other professions, while the number of schools diminishes along with their technical and scientific endowment strongly illustrates the sub-mediocre conditions of the Romanian school these years.

Not only the successive economic crises, but also the political ones, due to ruling authorities that only care about material condition, transformed the Romanian education into a contradictory space. This explains the fact that knowledge, from its historic condition of general aspiration among Romanians, is today at a very low level of attention. School abandonment, with its virtual attribute which is illiteracy, raises towards 18-20 pc, a figure that is not very often encountered today. Teachers with remarkable cultural-scientific skills are compelled to renounce obtaining a job in school, because of the many acts of discrimination present in this sector. These problems are made more acute by decentralisation and regionalisation, which leaves the fate of school institutions in the hands of mayors that are often rather uneducated. Recently, a TV channel aired an emotional interview with a young Romanian teacher from Covasna County who, with tears in her eyes, asked the public to provide a modest financial aid in order to improve the learning conditions in the school where she worked, situated in a muddy and impoverished village. Even if it were singular – which is not the case – such an example should wake up the conscience of Romanian ruling authorities. Their unresponsiveness to the tears caused by this suffering illustrates the real nature of their conscience.

Unfortunately, such suffering is widespread throughout our education system. A recent sociological research, conducted on a large scale in the higher education institutions of Romania, illustrates the fact that, out of 100 students, only 65 graduate a university. There even are prestigious universities where the percentage of abandonment reaches 50 pc. There are three main reasons for this situation: the collapse of the democratic character of the access to higher education. First, the increasingly high tuition fees are insurmountable obstacles for the aspirations of students. Second, wrong option for a certain faculty. Why wrong? Because the respective option does not rely on the individual vocation, the passion for a certain profession. Under the pressure of poverty, more parents advise their children to choose a faculty not because of their vocation, but hoping to have a better paying job when they graduate. Children usually take their parents’ advice until the moment when they realise that they have no attraction for the respective profession, which transforms their university studies into torment. The third reason derives from the first two: the illusion of emigration, or of turning to disputable actions, makes many students abandon their studies.

This alienation can be subject to many debates. Some rightfully accuse the lack of counseling for the youths, in view of choosing the right profession. Others accuse, also rightfully, that instruction is no longer correlated with education in the unity of the pre-university education system. The individual passion for a specific school discipline is often ignored. Plus the lack of synthesis capacity, which unfortunately is also present in the case of some teachers. But the main reason of the disinterest for education is the extent of the unemployment which also affects the graduates of higher education. Over 40 pc of university graduates each year immediately go into unemployment, after taking their degrees. There are two reasons for this problem:

  1. The low quality of the professional activities from many companies, private or state-run. In the primitive conception of some employers, the young university graduate who applies for a job is not appreciated for his school results, but for the way he performs some minor professional operations. The capacity of innovative synthesis, the prospective and anticipative vision alas do not belong to the preferences of employers in Romania. Not sure about the duration of their business, the employers – usually immigrants to Romania – prefer to live in the present, a “carpe diem” detrimental to the entire Romanian society.
  2. Because of poverty, more baccalaureates from rural regions cannot continue their education in a university and are compelled to choose education variants that are cheaper or closer to their home villages. After they graduate these courses, they are the first victims of unemployment, because the jobs suitable for their profile are far away, or inexistent. Thus, the emigration of young specialists from rural areas is on an upward trend.

It is known that, even in the countries that oppose Romania’s access to the Schengen Space, young specialists from Romania are well received due to their professional competence and their acceptance to work on the lowest wages. If someone calculated the losses caused by the emigration of our specialists, who were educated with money paid by the Romanian state, the figure would be astronomic. This is why nobody in a position of authority dares to make public this figure."

Source: Nine o’clock Romania

 

GENERAL OVERVIEW ON FSC ACTIVITY AND ITS ROLE IN THE COMMUNITY

We started the year with hopes that we can continue most of the work. We managed to secure funding for care of elderly rural areas, a very important side of the work. The beginning of the year is always challenging from the point of view of cash flows and contract signing with some stakeholders.

The county and local authorities agreed to continue the partnership in service provision with FSC and that means securing about 50% of the total cost of the services.

The national TV station called PROTV initiated a campaign called "do you know what your parents are doing?" referring to the older people suffering in villages with no care while their children work abroad in Italy. They contacted us for the documentary and they spent two days filming and interviewing people from our home care in rural areas. They covered all Romanian areas and made a parallel between the services provided in Italy, mainly by Romanian care givers, and those almost non-existent in Romania. In fact there were accusations on the Romanian government that has no idea what is the problem, the proportion, the needed funding, etc. The documentary was presented during prime time news over a longer period of time and the Ministry of Work was interviewed about the situation and presented only excuses and promises. It was very funny that during this time they interviewed two lots of Ministries as because of the political scandals people were replaced.

Some highlights of the quarter

FSC strategic planning

Strategic planning for FSC: we had a long meeting with the project coordinators with the aim to set the future development steps for the organisation. We discussed the constraints and tried to find solutions for the near and long term future.

We will continue to attract resources for the continuation of the work as all of the services are still needed in the national context.

 
 Together with Muzika Charitable Trust we organised a training session on Sherborne Therapy (movement for special needs people). The training was sustained by specialists from UK Janet Sparkes and Penny Rance. They provided two levels of training and issued certificates to the participants. Those willing to become trainers in the field can follow a third level and give evidence on the practice and after that can become trainers. Several of the FSC staff will follow this line so eventually we can provide the training under FSC/Impreuna Network.

We organised the painting exhibition "Ageless painters". The event was hosted by the Galleries Noblesse. The collection of paintings includes 58 works of the most talented elderly, beneficiaries of the day centre "Dr. Stefan Ciobanu". These paintings are presenting very different themes, especially landscapes, portraits, which are impressive in the diversity of styles, colours, and the optimism and creativity they express.

The event turned into a proper art event, with a piano concert, performed by two very talented volunteers from FSC and with the launch of a new collection of decorations and jewellery hand made by the children and volunteers in the Activ Mozaic Workshop.

This exhibition is a clear proof of the fact that anyone can be creative, irrespective of age, former profession of social status. We also want to emphasise that the elderly around us can have a very active life, despite the common misconceptions about this age group.

The exhibition will travel around the city in various nice public places.

 The 2% campaign has started again. Every year seems to be more challenging than the previous.

This year we are better organised as we had more training sessions with the volunteers and staff on the various approaches.

The “market” is full of other NGOs, schools, churches or sport clubs all trying to convince the community to sign the 2% form in their favour.

 2% campaign
 

We have one year since the opening!

In this year we managed to offer good quality care services to over 50 elderly. The place is cosy, atractive, full of life and activities and offers a great alternative to living alone, suffering and being sad in blovks of flats. The residents can finaly feel at home in houses located in nice suroundings, with flowers, farms, tress and no stress for shoping, cooking or going to see the doctor.

The model was presented at the National ProTV and the waiting list is already long.

The service is self sustainable already through the fees paid by the beneficiaries or their families.

Milly Village for the Seniors

The visit was a follow up after FSC implemented, with money from the Norwegian grants, an ample programme of community care dedicated to the poor rural areas.

The delegation visited two of the day centres Club with Glue in Motoseni and Panu, met with the two mayors and the home care teams and also made a home visit to an old lady helped by the team.

We emphasised the need for development and funding of these services and the Ambassador promised to intermediate meetings with high level government and officials.

The Norwegian Ambassador and delegation visiting our projects

   

STRUCTURE OF THE ACTIVITY

The indicators of the quarter:

PROGRAMMES  BENEFICIARIES 
 Clubs with Glue  585
 Community care for the elderly in Rural Areas Podu Turcului  645
 Care of the Elderly, Bacau  250
National Art Network "Impreuna" 1875
Impart 73
Volunteers 220
Milly Village- Care Home for the Seniors 35
TOTAL 3,683

The activity is structured on two major areas that concentrate on the provision of integrated services to the children and their families and to the elderly.

Even this information is repeated will keep it to show the organizational structure:

  1. Integrated services for the elderly:
    1. Home care services: 1 team in Bacau (including nursing care)
    2. 10 teams in rural areas: We now work in: Huruesti, Vultureni, Motoseni, Stanisesti, Rachitoasa, Colonesti, Dealu Morii, Glavanesti, Gaiceana and Podu Turcului
    3. Day care services: 1 centre in Bacau and one in Motoseni-Fintinele
    4. Residential care services, the "Village of the seniors": to assure nursing care for very ill, old and difficult to care at home people. Capacity 35 people.
  2. Integrated services for child and family:
    1. Day centres for children, we now cover the following locations: Mosaic Centre and the Glue Club Bacau
    2. The Glue Clubs in: Panu, Godinesti, Fantinele, Podu Turcului, Dealu Morii. Luncani and Letea Veche we only assure support, supervision and transfer of know how to the local team.
    3. Support for the families: social care, counseling, etc.
    4. Educational grants for the children from rural areas to go to high school in the city and their mentoring: we currently help 110 poor village children to go to high schools in the city.
  3. Combined arts for special needs
    1. The Impreuna Network
    2. Impart team: training and support to the educational activities of the organization

SUPPORT PROGRAMMES

The programme of the volunteers

The programme was re-structured in the summer and for a better management and use of the volunteers we designed the following scheme:

  • New entry: for the very young volunteers, 9th grade
  • Performers: title of the volunteers after 1 year of practice
  • Seniors: volunteers after 3 years of work

Various services for rural communities:

  1. Community meetings
  2. Social care
  3. Community transport

Fundraising & Income generating activities

  1. Activ Mosaic unit: Development of arts, decorations, jewelries, etc.
  2. Fundraising

The Community awards Gala remains an excellent opportunity to interact with the business community and mass media. The FR team contacted hundreds of companies, the result could have been higher but considering the national context we are quite happy

The Financial Situation for 2014

The Norwegian Government has launched new grant lines for the NGOs, they are managed by FDSC (Romanian). We applied with several applications, unfortunately two major ones were rejected (they considered that the poor children and the elderly do not match the funding criteria of the line-even though they did-we complained to the Norwegian Ambassador).

We have submitted several other applications and hopefully will get some positive outcomes. The competition is very high among the NGOs.

All the government traditional partners (County Council, City Council, village mayors, Ministry of work) agreed to continue to fund the services to the beneficiaries meaning that about 50% of the costs are secured. The rest of the money will come from Vodafone, Swiss grants and fundraising.

FUNDING APPLICATIONS WAITING FOR AN ANSWER

SOURCE  PROJECT  Amount requested 
 LAW 34: restricted care of elderly    138,960 GBP-approved
 European Social Fund  Rural women: training and job placing  200,000 Euro-FAILED
 The Glue Clubs in Motoseni and Bacau  BRD Bank  10,000 Euro-approved
Bacau County Council Support for rural care 80,000 GBP-approved
Bacau City Council Care of the Elderly and Mosaic 23,000 GBP-approved
Swiss funding Partnership Daniel Centre-Espoiroumanie, mobile services for the villages Applied for 250,000 euro, FSC benefit 100,000 Euro-approved
Norwegian funds-through FSC

services for children in rural areas

75,000 Euro-failed
Norwegian funds-through FSC

Services for the elderly

250000 Euro-failed
FRDS-Norwegian grants Clubs with Glue

350,000 Euro-awaiting

FRDS-Norwegian grants Youth work 320,000 Euro-awaiting
EU grants, Posdru, FSC is a partner in a strategic project for counseling, training and support of poor categories Training, professional reconversion 220,000 Euro-pre-approved
Vodafone Care services 46,000 Euro-approved

Conclusions

The year 2014 looks again very complex. We hope to be able to carry on all planned work even though we don’t have financial security until the end of the year. We all hope that one day social care services will eventually be developed and funded according to the need in Romania. In the meantime we try our best to keep the continuity.

With many thanks for all the financial support, care and understanding to RFFR and many thanks for Edward Parry for everything.

 

For FSC Board,
Gabriela Achihai, President