Blythswood’s afterschool programme gives vital support 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 his education and other aspects of his life.
He was kept from going to school as his parents were travelling through other countries and didn’t enrol him or his siblings.
His father has been to prison for minor offences and now works odd jobs when he can find them.
His mother lost her factory job with a steady wage when their landlord evicted them from their home.
And finding another place to stay is proving to be very difficult: a gypsy family with six children can expect to encounter negative attitudes wherever they go.
With these problems at home, 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 TK2.
“TK2 offers Gringo help with homework, notebooks and the facility to have a shower and wash his clothes,” explains Carmen Popa. “Right now he’s not on the programme because he feels a responsibility to earn some money and help his family and he is chopping wood when he should be in class.
“But 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.”
Photo above: Gringo at TK2: in Romania children do not progress from one grade to the next unless they make the grade