Our children will change lives

Progress occurs when we are willing to embrace change. One cannot transition towards a better and improved life, unless he or she is willing to see beyond their comfort zone. Consistent poverty has created a vicious cycle in which the desire for a better life in many communities has long been forgotten. But, just as a ray of sunlight can penetrate even thickest fog, so one kindergarten teacher in Vaslui county is breaking through old mentalities and helping people see that there is hope for a better future starting at the most fertile soil—the hearts of children.

Maria, 39, has been a kindergarten teacher in Ivăneşti village, Vaslui County, for the past four years. But, before Ivănesti, she also worked as a kindergarten teacher in her local village as well.

For anyone who meets her, however, it is easy to see that her education and professional background go well beyond her usual job. Highly committed to her profession, had a degree in psychology,  regularly attends the local council meetings to advocate for children's rights and was elected as the vice principle for Ivanesti general school.  Despite her numerous responsibilities, she is always smiling and constantly patient with her students. Despite the distractions, in her classroom, she managed to answer my questions.  

Q: What do you think about the fact that World Vision is going to start a new community development programme?

M: "Our community is made out of poor people, who are needy and do not have much. For us, the fact that World Vision came into our community means a new ray of hope for children and for the community itself."

Q: Do you trust World Vision, as an organization?

M: "At first, I was sceptic towards World Visions’ intentions. Very few institutions are indeed committed in a long term process of improving lives. Most organizations start up by promising changes, but what they are really interested in is their own good, not the community’s. At first, I thought that it is going to be really hard to make the changes happen. But, World Vision has taught us that with small financial aids, children's lives can be improved. If we work together, we can help children see beyond the limited possibilities of this poor village.”

Q: Why do you say that it is going to be hard to make changes in the community?

M: "Well, the most important thing I have learned during the meetings in which I have participated with World Vision and other local leaders is that, first-and-foremost, we need to be honest and to recognize our needs and problems. During these meetings, I was impressed to see people can talk about their problems and admit that they need to change the way they live. This is the novelty brought by World Vision: the community has to be involved in its own development. It doesn't suffice anymore to just give something to the people because they get the bad habit of thinking they deserve it for nothing."

Q: And how do you think these changes will happen, once World Vision will start the programme in Vaslui 2?

M: "I am hoping that parents will participate in lessons of parental, civic, and health education. In vain do we work for children alone, if they return back to their families and everything we teach them falls apart. After the fall of the communist regime, there were no obligations regarding on how many school years one person should complete. Now, we are confronting the situation of too many young parents who only have only two or three years of education. For me, it is quite a challenge to start working with these people, who are illiterate adults. On the other hand, the elderly ones, who have been obliged to stay in school, are more open and have a higher level of understanding."

Q: I What were the most important problems that you have identified along with other local members during the meetings organized between World Vision and the community?"

M: "I have already talked about education and parental sessions. Health is also an issue because severe poverty leads towards precarious health conditions. Children do not have a healthy nutritious life, as their parents cannot offer them the nutritious foods they need. And this brings us to economic development: subsistent farmers need to learn how to procure their own food. But, as I said, in our community as well as in our country, the biggest damage comes from the mentality of people who need to change their perspective on life and start trusting themselves for a better future."

Q: What changes do you hope to see in your community, once World Vision will start to effectively implement the program?

M: "I strongly believe that the biggest contribution of World Vision is going to be in the improvement of children's lives. World Vision will start working with local farms for economic development, teaching them how to prosper by doing agriculture according to the specificities of the area they live in and by taking into account the importance of becoming associates. However, I think that there should be a very strong collaboration between people and local authorities. From what I can see, at least in our community, I think that this connection has been broken. Changes will start to come once a good collaboration will occur among people. Children are most vulnerable to poverty, because they do not perceive it. This is why it is our responsibility, as adults, to work together, for the welfare of our children. And our children, in return, will change the face of our community and the lives of the generations to come."