Urgent help for vulnerable families
The Coronavirus pandemic poses an enormous threat to Roma communities. Among people who are used to being marginalised and shut away from society, new lockdowns, loss of income, and fear of disease in the crowded and often very unhygienic conditions are creating unprecedented levels of anxiety.
For example, our team in Fakulteta, a large Roma community of fifty thousand plus people in Sofia, are helping folk where they can. Led by local resident Ani Ilieva, they are connected to a large number of families through the community centre that FSCI funds, and are working together with the Regional Health Inspectorate. Their advice and practical assistance will be sought by many in the neighbourhood during this crisis. FSCI can divert some of the funding set aside for our community kindergarten, which is currently closed, to support the team as they help families in dire need, but we need your help too.
By donating to our Roma Kindergarten Appeal you can help FSCI support families affected by the crisis.
ROMA KINDERGARTEN APPEAL
Opening the school door for forgotten children
£3 a month will help transform access to education in the poorest communities in Southeast Europe.
The children shut out of education
Hundreds of thousands of children suffer extreme poverty in Southeast Europe, with the majority living in Roma communities, where prostitution and criminal exploitation are rife. These communities are often cut-off from the world outside by language, discrimination and lack of services. One vital missing service is education – with less than 20% of Roma children in the region completing secondary school is it any wonder that these communities act like traps for those who are born and raised there?
Thousands of Roma families cannot get access to crucial kindergartens for their children. Without this the children are shut out of the school system and so condemned to a life of poverty and desperation.
Early Years Education Programme
Our Early Years Education Programme consists of special kindergartens tailored to individual communities. By working together with families we aim to provide a vital pathway into education for marginalised children. This how it works.
A blend of experience and local community knowledge is essential. We resource and work with Roma people who have the desire to change their communities for the better. We encourage parent-volunteers and have been delighted to see some pursue professional teaching careers.
Basic literacy, numeracy and creative play to prepare for pre-school. The biggest barrier to these children making a successful transition to primary education is language – many only speak a local Roma dialect. Teaching the national language takes priority.
Investing in families
Equipping families to keep their children learning and growing in confidence and ability. By encouraging parents to invest time and effort in their children’s education, and supporting them in that, we hope to reduce the numbers of families making the desperate decision to exploit young teenagers.
Encouraging participation and promoting the value of education in marginalised communities. Putting on events for parents and older siblings. Working with at-risk teens. Demonstrating a wider commitment to the community by engaging with local groups and NGOs. Giving out presents at Christmas.
Sevda is part of the team at the Fakulteta kindergarten in Sofia. She is a keen advocate of education in Roma communities.
“Since my early years I have been volunteering in different NGOs that work in our community. After graduating as an assistant tutor I became part of the FSCI team that works in the neighbourhood of Fakulteta where I grew up and still live. I want to be a good example for the young people in our community and to help them and their parents change their attitudes towards education and early marriages”.
Building on success - Fakulteta Kindergarten & Community Centre
Our Early Years Education team have been running a successful kindergarten and pre-school in the Roma community of Fakulteta in Sofia Bulgaria, since 2015. However, in a community of 50,000 people, there are only two small kindergartens! That’s not enough to ensure that all the children get the opportunity to receive vital first-stage education. We want to increase the number of places available at the Fakulteta kindergarten – ensuring that even more children in this community get the best possible start to their education.
We have been gifted some land and we have plans and permission to build a bespoke community centre. This will allow us to expand the kindergarten and also set up services such as housing and welfare advice, family planning, adult education, teen support groups, job searching, and medical clinics which will benefit the whole community of Fakulteta.
This community-led approach will help marginalised families to realise futures filled with possibility for their children and help set a template for similar projects in other communities.
The cost of building and equipping the new centre will be £150,000. If every person who donated £3 towards our Christmas box appeal committed to donating just £3 a month for one year, the whole build-project could be funded!
Please consider helping us to change the future for the forgotten children of Fakulteta.