Marina, 21, is a young girl who always has a positive attitude. Although she has never had an easy life, she enjoys talking about herself. She grew up in a village in southern Romania, where children often become prisoners of a painful routine of survival—fighting poverty daily and letting education take second place. When she was 8 years old, she became part of World Vision’s sponsorship programme. It was through sponsorship she developed dreams and found the courage to follow them.
The sad scenery of life for children in rural areas
At first, Marina smiles discreetly when she begins to speak about her life in the village as a little girl, about 10 years go. Soon after she starts speaking, however, her eyes become sad, nostalgic and lost. It is not that she doesn’t love her village. Quite the contrary, she knows all its meanderings, every child and adult who reside in the area. Although she has many beautiful memories as well, she bears a feeling of sadness in her heart when she remembers her childhood. “We could only play in a small clearing and in village’s alleys, with toys made by us from different materials,” she says. “School was merely routine, we couldn’t understand the use of education,” remembers Marina.
“School was merely routine, we couldn’t understand the use of education,” remembers Marina.
For many children, it seemed as if their fates were sealed with their birth as they would spend their time helping their parents with household activities or working the field for daily survival. “We only knew what we had, what we saw, and what the village was offering us. [We didn’t have] any opportunity to see beyond its boundaries. My parents helped me with their advice and support, but that was all. They couldn’t give me more than that,” adds Marina.
When World Vision started its programmes in Marina’s village, her universe changed. She began to take part in the activities organised by the Children’s Club. There, together with other children, she was involved in different interactive games: panting, chess, and storytelling to name a few.
“It was amazing to see how happy we were to spend our time in a constructive and pleasant way,” remembers Marina.
Thanks to the sponsorship programme, she also went on a trip for the first time, participated in competitions, felt the emotion of winning prizes, and learnt about technology by attending computer classes.
“World Vision opened new horizons for us,” she remembers. “
“World Vision opened new horizons for us,” she remembers. They gave us the opportunity to see further than the universe of our village, to meet new people, and to develop ourselves. Our expectations about everything have become greater [as a result],”she says, smiling with confidence.
Step by step, Marina’s involvement and devotion for studying were more and more obvious. She passed the entrance exams at a good high school in town which she was able to attend, in part, because of a scholarship she received from World Vision. “This scholarship was a crucial moment in my development,” she remembers. “It helped me greatly because I could pay for my transportation and school supplies; it gave me the chance to go on with my studies,” she affirms.
In addition to her financial difficulties, life as a student in the town brought Marina more concerns. Coming from the village, she was afraid to be seen as different by her schoolmates. It was difficult for her to socialize with the other students and integrate with other students. But, she remained close to World Vision.
Marina went to camps for personal development and attended meetings with other World Vision beneficiaries. She participated in different activities and events where she learnt to take initiative, to speak in public and to work as part of a team. “I began to develop as a person, to know myself better, to have friends,” she recalls. “I became more self-confident and soon the differences between me and the children in the town were no longer felt.”
During her high school years, Marina became interested in learning more about laws and justice and began dreaming of becoming a lawyer. Her devotion, hard work and responsibility helped her, once again, to fight for her dream. Marina passed the exams at the Faculty of Law and Administration. She is currently in the second year at the university where she is appreciated by teachers and colleagues.
“I have known Marina for many years,” says E. Toma, the Romanian the language teacher who helped Marina prepare for the entrance exam. “She is a smart, conscientious and hard-working child. She learnt a lot for the entrance examination and never thought of giving up. I know that she has great results at faculty and she is involved in different projects.”
Marina has never forgotten the help she received. She continues to live in her village and together with other former World Vision beneficiaries (and with support from World Vision), she founded the association “Just like You” aimed at helping other children in her community. The foundation has 20 active members who meet every Saturday to paint together and create products which they sell to help their families, financially.
“I know what need means and how important it is to be offered a chance; to feel that someone is protecting and guiding you, showing you that the future can be something different. I grew up and developed together with World Vision, I changed myself from that hopeless child from the village into a confident young person, with realistic plans.
I grew up and developed together with World Vision, I changed myself from that hopeless child from the village into a confident young person, with realistic plans.
I want to express my gratitude by giving other children what I have already received,” says Marina.