An intelligent nine-year-old from a low-income family is developing new social skills at Talita Kum, Blythswood Care’s afterschool programme in western Romania.
“Maria is very smart and does her homework independently,” says Carmen Popa who helps to manage the programme. “She is good at maths, and loves to dance and to do crafts and colouring. She has a great memory and can learn to recite an entire poem in one day.
“Talita Kum has helped to improve her performance at school by teaching her how to relate to her classmates. She used to argue with other children and tell on them but now she gets along with everyone.”
School presents additional social challenges for children like Maria who belong to Jimbolia’s gypsy community. Their living conditions at home are much poorer than average and their mother tongue is Romani rather than Romanian.
“The teachers and social workers help her by correcting her speech,” Carmen says. “When we took her on summer camp, we could see that it was difficult for her to be away from her parents but after the first night she was quite happy. It was good experience for her to learn to enjoy a time away from home.”
Photo above: Talita Kum provides a square meal, help with homework, access to hot showers, and a full cultural programme of music, art and drama for up to 40 children of primary school age. TK2 extends the programme to children at junior secondary, giving them the support they need to avoid dropping out of school.