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Fall is a great time for planting trees. It was 55 seeds that we planted, not in the soil, but in the hearts and minds of 55 beautiful children. 6 to 12 year old youngsters from Sânmihaiu de Campie (Bistrita Nasaud County, Romania), Harseni and Recea (Brasov County, Romania), gathered together at the Fagaras Mountains foothills, where the vineyard was announcing local wine that oozes richness and warmth. Raluca tells us more...
To have a good time, to play and work together, to teach them to be proactive, take initiative and make their ideas become reality, to help them understand and feel that our self-worth is not conditioned by anything outside ourselves.
Through play and stories, through experiential learning guided by their own enthusiasm and ideas in a positive and joyful environment, the children have the chance to develop self-confidence, to discover themselves and what surrounds them, to learn about friendship and community.
Well, we get it. But actually, how?
Through the diverse and adaptable program we are putting together. In this camp for example, during the first two days, the children had the chance to go through each of the 5 ‘universes’ (workshops), coordinated by our volunteers: The Actor’s Universe- where they experienced what it means to have the courage to express yourself, in conventional and less conventional ways, in front of other people, the Undefined Universe- the place to learn about emotions and critical thinking, the Science and Storytelling Universe- where the world around becomes explainable and the stories have each time a different ending, the Sports Universe- where life's greatest lessons are to be learned, the Projects Universe- where ideas become reality.
After these two days, the children were given the opportunity to create, together, a story, a theater play, a science wonder, a project, etc. and then present it in front of their colleagues. What came out of it was astonishing.
Any other program beyond these workshops?
An entire day was dedicated to a 22 km hike in the Fagaras Mountains- some of the children were for the first time on such a hike, had the chance to overcome their limits- the unavoidable muscle ache, the fear of heights, narrow trails, too big a step, while encouraged by the whole group and lifted by the team spirit. On the way back 6 big bags were filled with garbage found- there is no better age to acquire knowledge on ecology and to start respecting the forest!
One evening there was an artistic show. Teodora Titiu, a 12 year old girl from Fagaras, played the pan flute and sang, and together with her dance partner, showed the little ones that through work and passion, once you know your talent, you can do amazing things!
Sounds great! How do we do so that we are not only left with ‘nice memories from the camp’?
The Vision includes camps twice or three times a year and between these, the Children for Children National Tour. The groups that take part in camps, and not only, go for one whole day, to other children groups and carry on together similar activities to the ones in the camps. What is unique in this exchange is the fact that a child is each time responsible for coordinating the groups, while he/she consults his/her colleagues about the program. Their teachers will offer them the logistical support they need- these are amazing people, fully dedicated to the little ones, who are our best connectors to the “on site” reality- they know already what the children need and what the existing resources are. Once they identify what is needed, Love for Life provides the materials (may they be writing materials, creative games, books, sports materials).
How do we know it will work out?
This has been already the second successfully finalized Love for Life Camp. Over the Summer, there has been a National Tour in several villages of Bistra-Nasaud, Brasov, Valcea and Suceava counties.
Even at this level, the changes are visible: in the participants attitudes, in the magnitude of the projects that we all join, in the increasing interest from all directions: primary school children coming from Romanian villages come up with courageous ideas- for example, in this camp, they built by themselves water filters and small motors working on solar energy; the teacher are enthusiastic about the whole pedagogical experience exchange, they are thrilled to offer to the children the chance to interact with other children for one week, away from the environment they are familiar with.
For sustainable results, as organizers we want continuity with the children. We don’t give up on the ones already involved in the program and we want to reach more. We want more and better with respect to the logistics and the project financing- we want to find a sustainable constant financial support, to offer the little ones, the opportunities that suit them best.
Whom to thank to?
First of all, the volunteers who coordinated the universes: Amalia Ciucă, Maria Ciulei, Alexandru Grădinaru, Harda Cocan, Ioana Negruț, Livia Bălăcescu, Lavinia Spetcu and the teachers who accompanied the children: Nelu Avram, Georgeta Banu, Cecilia Rus, Lenuța Manta.
Then to the ones who offered the financial support that was so necessary at this phase of the project: Mihaela Feher, Trimaster AG, Rodica Manoil, Oana Spătărescu, Simona Negoiaș, Adel Albloushi, Adrian Matei, Mathias Neuhauser, Anna Wenger, Theodor Radu, Florin Adrian Gheorghe, Dan Hațegan, Viviana Petrescu, Stela Rakipaj, Andrei Lenkei, Vlad Grama, Bogdan Alexe, Raluca Ciulei.
Last but not least, to the ones from Pensiunea Roua Munților in Sâmbăta de Sus; thanks to them we were able to provide housing and healthy meals to so many people during the camp time, and they never even complained that we left behind their vineyard empty and the grass full of confetti.
You can get in contact with Raluca via her website: http://www.ralucaciulei.com/contact.html
Livia Bălăcescu, Zürich