In spring 2018 The Human Safety Net debuted in Romania, choosing a well-established local NGO – OvidiuRo – and immediately creating a Romanian branch of the movement.
OvidiuRo was first established in 2004 when professor Maria Gheorghiu and Peace Corps volunteer Leslie Hawke laid the foundations for what would become an outstanding assistance organization. The two women shared a common belief – grounded in research – that education is the only path out of collective poverty. And they shared a noble goal: to give as many children as possible the chance for a better life.
Their passion drove OvidiuRo’s success and extended the association’s reach year after year. They lobbied successfully for equal access to early education, helping get Romania’s “Every Child in Kindergarten” law – which provides food coupons as a way to help support regular kindergarten attendance – enacted in 2015.
In spring 2018, The Human Safety Net representatives in Romania reached out to OvidiuRo, sparking early collaboration. OvidiuRo had already been running “Sotron Doi” (Hopscotch 2), for a few years, and The Human Safety Net sponsored the 2018 edition and got roughly a dozen Generali colleagues involved as well. Sotron Doi provides two-hour sessions that get kids in rural areas of the country involved in specific activities prior to normal kindergarten enrollment. Children play together at activity tables, learn how to properly wash their hands before a meal, conduct reading sessions, and receive their own books (the first of a series of six The Human Safety Net-branded books they’re given during the start of kindergarten).
Now attention has shifted to the future, as OvidiuRo focuses on its “Read aloud Caravan” program this fall, during which children and their families from disadvantaged communities attend reading sessions with NGO teams and volunteers. The aim is to convince poor parents of the value of preschool and increase children’s exposure to new vocabulary and the world of books.
Together OvidiuRo, The Human Safety Net, parents and their children are writing the first pages of a path out of poverty and toward improved life chances, making a concrete difference in Romania!