I finally found myself

Today, David, 13, is well-known throughout his community. But, it wasn’t always that way. Almost one year ago, he was a shy and lonely boy, deeply affected by the fact that he was overweight. He was often the victim of his colleagues' jokes, being verbally and physically bullied by them. 

Things took a new turn for him when he was selected to participate in the "My story" project - a World Vision Romania - Dolj Area Development Programme initiative designed to help children develop their abilities and empowered them to make their stories heard through acting in a play.

All 25 children, between the ages of 11 and 14, who participated in the theatre project came from vulnerable families and had moving stories to share. Due to their poverty, many of them were forced to work along with their parents leaving school and education on the sidelines. Others, like David, were victims of violence—some had been abused in their families, others at school. Their shared experience, regardless of the location of the assault often caused them to live in fear which lead them to live introverted lives.

The theatre workshops lasted for two months. Under the guidance of two professional actors, Luiza Stănescu and Petrisor Diamantu, children met three times a week. The methods they used for teaching the acting skills were based on games, inspired from Viola Spolin's improvisation exercises combined with mime elements.


Step-by-step, children became more and more confident, they started to communicate more freely and learned to control their emotions when on the stage and speaking to an audience. Moreover, they felt they belonged to a group, they learned to respect each other and to accept themselves the way they were, without feeling ashamed to speak about their own needs. 


“In the beginning, I was ashamed and afraid to take part in exercises and to speak in front of my mates,” remembers David. “Our coordinator actors, Luiza and Petrisor, supported me very much and made me feel comfortable. Then, I also received my mates’ support. We became a team and were not ashamed anymore", he adds.

Children were encouraged to speak about their lives, their emotions and their thoughts so that the actors could write the script for the play.  The final play paints a picture of children’s life in rural areas  in order to bring some of the issues they face to the attention of the audience. The most important aspect children wanted to emphasize was the negative effects violence in the family and school has on children. The play ended by highlighting that many children were forced to abandon their education as a result of their family’s poor financial situation.

Through this project, World Vision succeeded in helping children develop their communication abilities and make their stories heard in order to make other people aware of the fact that many children in villages all over Romania still face serious obstacles and need support.

David’s experience plays a central role in the play. He is the first on the stage and opens the show.

“David was one of the most timid children,” remembers Cristiana Dan, the coordinator of My Story project.  “We intended to give him a role that would help him become aware of his qualities. We are glad to notice important changes in him. He has learned to control his emotions and he became more confident in himself and in his relations with others,” she adds.

The first performances “My Story” took place in different locations from the largest town in children's county. More than 300 people, including children's parents, colleagues, authorities from their community but also from the town came to see the children acting in the large Hall of Arts high school. The events drew the attention of local media, which promoted the play on TV and also in regional newspapers, making children's voice and message more powerful.


“I was happy to see that so many people came to support us and liked our play,” says David. “I hope that our message was understood by everybody and our mean colleagues will stop bothering the children that are fatter, slimmer or poorer than they are,” David says.

The project continued to offer children new experiences. They were invited to act their play during a “Circle of Friends” event, organized by World Vision Romania in Bucharest. World Vision Romania's ambassadors, national stars, partners, donors and partners attended the event. The children were confident on stage and behaved like seasoned actors. The story moved the audience and many people understood much better the challenges and needs of children in rural areas of the country.


“Their sensitivity and dedication impressed me to tears,” said a World Vision Romania's partner. “They brought so close to our soul a reality that is so harsh and painful,” he added.

For David,  the project proved to be so important because it contributed decisively to his inner transformation. Today, he is a confident child, who is no longer ashamed of who he is and has made many friends.

“Through this project, I found myself,” says David. “I have discovered and developed my abilities and gained more courage. I am proud because I could share my story and be a voice.. the children's voice,” David concludes.

World Vision plans to take the “My Story” programme to other communities in order to help more children find their voices and share their stories.

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