Victoria, Romania, is one of those towns where almost everyone who lives here wishes they lived somewhere else. Although it’s surrounded by beautiful mountains, the town itself is crumbling and full of closed-down businesses. There are very few job opportunities, and young working adults are moving away in their droves.
Elisei is seven years old and lives with his family in a two-roomed Communist-era apartment in Victoria. The town has many worn-down apartment blocks in desperate need of renovation where people live in poverty.
His mother, Rahela, said, “I’ve never had a job. I only went to school up to the seventh grade. What can I do?”
Her partner worked at a grocery shop in town for about three months but was then fired. He now has a job picking blueberries and hopes to be able to go to Germany and work there sometime soon.
Rahela said, “We don’t have a place of our own, we have almost no income except for the children’s allowances, and we barely get by. The utilities haven’t been paid for some time now, as we never have enough money.”
It is common in Roma communities to drop out of school at a young age. Children whose parents are uneducated lack the support they need when they’re struggling with schoolwork. Sometimes because of poverty, children are under pressure to drop out and help bring in more income for the family.
It is also easy for Roma children to think school is not for them, especially when their parents can’t afford the school supplies, they face discrimination at school, and no one in their family is educated.
Fortunately, Elisei – along with his older sister and younger brother – is enrolled on Mission Without Borders’s child sponsorship programme. As a result, they receive all kinds of support, with regular visits from MWB staff member Radu, who has just brought them backpacks and school supplies.
Rahela said, “We’ve been lucky to get school supplies and school backpacks from MWB, otherwise it would have been very hard, if not impossible, for us to buy them. Now Elisei and Matias have everything they need for school and hopefully they’ll be determined enough to study hard, as I’m not capable of helping them much.”
Elisei already has a big dream for the future. “My dream is to become a firefighter. I want to help people who need rescue and help save houses or other things that get on fire. I know I’ll have to be very quick and not take too much time, otherwise people will lose their homes.”
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