Nine months at an early-education project supported by Blythswood Care has transformed a shy and fearful child into a cheerful, active and assertive leader among her own age-group.
Four-year-old Sarah wasn’t used to mixing with other children when she joined the Elpis kindergarten in Dej, Romania, last September. Like many other young Romanians, her parents had moved to Italy to try to make a better life for themselves and their children. But her mother’s illness had forced the family to return home, where they are now trying to make a living by running a small sheep farm.
Its remote forest location meant that Sarah had no-one to play with other than her baby sister. Now with all the stimulation of Elpis’s pre-school programme, Sarah is developing her own personality.
“She has a fantastic memory and is a quick learner,” says Sorina Pop, director of the kindergarten. “With four-year-olds, we concentrate on developing their language and music skills. Next term they will be introduced to numbers and basic arithmetic.”
With just 12 to 15 children in a class, the low pupil-teacher ratio at Elpis is also a factor in the project’s success. Sorina says: “Our aim is to develop leaders for the next generation.”