children from Bucharest walking to school
A new update for Twotalk
Today I will talk about the Family Strengthening Programme and SOS Playbus that run in and around SOS Children's Village Bucharest...
When I first came to SOS Children's Villages I came as a volunteer for the Family Strengthening Programme and for some activities they did for children, and the SOS Playbus was involved. So being a volunteer for the FSP I’d interact a lot with the Playbus. I’ve never been on a trip because I wasn’t their volunteer, but I know what they do and know the programme pretty well. There are four teachers, all young and very active, who make the children they visit very happy every time they visit and play with their toys. A lot of the games they play I've known since I was a child but they have adapted and improved them for the children of today. They also have also a lot of new games, invented by the SOS Playbus staff or their colleagues from other countries.
Beside the joy and good impression I get out of interacting with the Playbus (events, activities in the village) I know for sure that children are very excited when they see or hear the Playbus coming into their community, even if we talk about the children in the SOS Village or the children from a school, somewhere in Romania.
I think the wider Family Strengthening Programme is very successful in Bucharest. The programme started as a little project, with 2 social workers in a little office and 10-15 family beneficiaries. Now they (now there are 5 in the team- 3 social workers, 1 coordinator and 1 psychologist) work in an entire house from the village, have changed their name to “Conciliation and Support Center”- because now it really is a center, and reached about 75 beneficiary families (with 300 children). Even though Bucharest is a big city, there are poor families that need help, conciliation and support so they can raise healthy and normal children. The support that families have from the center consists of: food stamps, free kindergarten for the children, guidance and help in the relation with the authorities, and all kinds of things for home from donations to clothes and so on.
The beneficiaries are grateful and realize what a great opportunity this programme is for them.
To be honest, the most foreign element of my relationship with the students is not our diverse languages and unfamiliar cultures, but it is their love for maths and my fear of numbers! As an English teacher I find formulas and maths problems totally intimidating, and it seems that most of the people in my classes would much rather do their chemistry homework than read a book. We have ongoing debates about the necessity of literature, but most of the students do seem to enjoy the challenges presented by the writers we are studying.
It is also worth pointing out here that they do not need pencils. As a matter of fact, supplies are readily available - the International College distributes laptops to all 11th graders and the school is entirely wireless. Mobile phones are strictly forbidden (this has a profoundly positive affect on teaching and learning), but many of the students do have ipods that serve as both dictionaries and portable stereos. The SOS kids are less likely to have all of the electronic gadgets, but they do make use of their monthly allowance to invest in simple MP3 players and e-books.
My T-shirts and quick-dry pants are also out of sync with the school. Here in Ghana, people spend a lot of money on fine local fabrics and just about everyone seems to have a favourite tailor. The women often wear long, mermaid-shaped dresses and the men frequently appear in brightly coloured, beautiful dress shirts. I’ve discovered that a fair-trade clothing company in Accra (Global Mamas) sells lovely, batik dresses for a reasonable price. They have all but outfitted me in my new wardrobe...