Hope and a future for struggling children
When the schools close at midday, many young people have to fend for themselves. Talita Kum provides a six hour programme, five days a week for 40 children from some of the poorest households in Jimbolia, Romania.
The children receive clothing and showers, as well as nourishing meals. But our main purpose is to give them help with their homework, preparation for exams, and to encourage them to finish their education.
Local teachers volunteer
their time to help
When Vlad joined Blythswood’s after-school programme a year ago he demanded a lot of attention. The 11-year-old and his mother had just moved to Jimbolia from another village in western Romania and he was suffering unresolved emotional distress from learning that his father had died.
“His parents separated when Vlad was very young,” explains Carmen Popa, teacher at Talita Kum. His father’s death from liver failure was a huge blow to Vlad. He was unable to go to the funeral because it was too far away and sometimes he imagines that his dad may still be alive.”
In spite of this inner turmoil, Vlad has fitted in well to the Talita Kum programme. “Vlad is very bright and we encourage him to tackle difficult puzzles which he is good at,” Carmen says. “He enjoys reading but is easily distracted. His handwriting is not good but every day we make sure that he completes the lessons which he did not finish at school.”
His mother is on a low wage as an unqualified factory worker, and she is unable to help Vlad with homework. For children in such a situation, the care, nutrition and one-to-one tuition offered by Blythswood’s after-school programme is essential if they are to fulfil their potential.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Daniela wants to be a lawyer. It’s a bold ambition for a timid 10-year-old but one her teachers reckon could well be within her potential.
“She is clever and enjoys school and works independently,” says Carmen Popa, teacher at Blythswood’s after-school programme, Talita Kum. “She is socially timid but we are trying to get her to open up more, to make friends with the other children and to have new experiences.”
A skiing trip planned for late January will test her social skills. At home, Daniela shares a small two-roomed house with her parents and five siblings. Her dad is a farm labourer and both he and his wife can read and write. “They are supportive of their children’s education up to a point but expect them to leave school as soon as they can, to start earning money,” Carmen explains.
“Daniela will need a lot of encouragement if she is to pursue her dream and go on
Talita Kum provides after-school tuition, food and hygiene to disadvantaged children in Jimbolia, Romania. TK2 extends the programme to help teenagers in junior secondary school.
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Learning for life
Denisa has always been keen on learning to use new technology. So when the Covid-19 lockdown hit Jimbolia in western Romania the 12-year-old was well-placed to benefit from online schooling and from the support offered by TK2, Blythswood Care’s after-school programme.
“Even some of the children who did have smartphones couldn’t connect to online platforms for lack of know-how,” says TK2 teacher Carmen Popa. “Many didn’t know how to use email but Denisa was one of the smart ones.
“She is in the top ten of her class and is very good at maths and Romanian. Her challenges are more of an emotional nature as her family situation can be unstable. We were in touch with her all the time, explaining the dangers of not respecting the lockdown rules. Sometimes she would not wake up for her online classes but when she did participate she was very quick to catch up with school work.”
TK2 continued to offer food and support to children throughout the two-month lockdown. Staff made video calls on WhatsApp to check up on homework. When school resumed in September, the authorities divided the children into two groups to attend fortnight about, in school and then at home.
“This makes the learning experience very difficult for pupils,” Carmen says. “It’s also a challenge for teachers to convey information by using two mediums simultaneously. This is why our programme is more important than ever. No matter what group Denisa is part of, she will come to TK2 every day and we will go over the lessons and homework with her to make sure she doesn’t fall behind.”
Through your care and support Blythswood Care’s afterschool programme gives vital help to young people of junior secondary school age in Jimbolia, Western Romania.
Gringo, aged 15, has faced just about every disadvantage you can imagine, affecting all aspects of his life, including his education.
He and his siblings were kept from going to school for many years as their parents didn’t enrol them.
With his father in and out of prison and his mother unable to work, they found themselves homeless. Finding a secure and permanent place to call home has been difficult for the family.
With these family problems, no-one can blame Gringo for being three years behind other children of his age at school. Despite missing many days at school last year, he did make the grade – thanks to the support he received at Talita Kum 2.
“TK2 offers Gringo help with homework, notebooks and the facility to have a shower and wash his clothes,” explains Carmen Popa. “He does aspire to complete at least eight years of school. He sees from his parents’ struggles that getting a job depends a lot on how much education you have.”
Thanks to supporters like you, Gringo has been offered hope and the chance of a better future.
Imagine this. Your mum can neither read nor write. Your dad you see only occasionally. Neither appreciates the importance of education. And when you are at home you are expected to look after your older sister’s children.
That’s the situation facing 12-year-old Dani. It’s only through your support for Blythswood’s afterschool programme that he receives the encouragement he needs to persevere at school.
“Dani’s attendance is very good,” says Carmen Popa who teaches at Talita Kum, in Jimbolia, western Romania. “He’s been with us four years and has now joined TK2, the programme for junior secondary pupils.
“He does okay at school but still needs the extra tuition we can give. He prefers maths to Romanian. Once he grasps an idea he insists on working independently and finishes all his homework.
He enjoys everything the programme has to offer – food, games, activities. He loves acrobatics and is always trying to improve his front and back flips.
In February he joined us on a skiing trip. It was his second time. His skiing is improving nicely and it gives him so much confidence. Without your support for Talita Kum, children like Dani would never get this opportunity.” Thank you for your support which is helping to transform lives.
Showcasing some of the work we do
Shoe Box Appeal
Receiving the gift of a small box packed with presents brings such joy; we thank you for the 88,816 shoeboxes you so generously donated in 2022.
With many of the recipients living in dire poverty, this gift, not only brings a smile, but hugely impacts on their lives.
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