In 1993 «Metro Ministries Romania» started to cater for the needs of the most disadvantaged children. The kids come mostly from the Roma communities. Statistics show that two out of three Roma children never finish primary school – thus they have to live on a «random» income later in their lives. Illiteracy and unemployment often lead to begging, prostitution and anti-social behaviour.
Our strategy is to provide education with a holistic approach to life, with God's values and principles in mind, to give these people a better future. Our «headquarter» is located in Sighisoara (Schässburg). From here we also offer our support to villages in the area, such as Saes, Netus and Albești. To reach the children and their families, we first had to build good relationships and trust. This is very important considering the discrimination and stigmatisation of this ethnic group. Even though the Roma have been part of Romanian society since the 16th century, there is generally very little knowledge about their culture, their communal life, group mentality and bonds, fancy/colourful lifestyle, musical soul and heartfelt generosity.
In small steps, we are breaking new ground to open doors for sustainable change: This includes basic training on hygiene, the provision of the needed material, and the offer for mentoring and coaching. Integration is a mixture of friendship, parenthood, love, faith in God – in short an investment in the people: helping them to help themselves. The goal is to create a welcoming environment where children can grow up in sustainability; be it in the kindergarten, in teenage circles, in family support or in summer camps.
The Albești Valley is a Roma community. We met some begging children in the town centre of Sighisoara. 80 families with about 200 children live in the Albești Valley. We visited them in their homes, learned their names, listened to them once they trusted us and told us about their problems. And we saw how they live their lives. In a few words: mud houses, chaotic life, illiteracy, rubbish, violence, alcohol, addiction, prostitution and paedophilia. This misery and poverty lead to desperate people, young men cutting their arms and children simply wishing to get something to eat.
We use direct oral and creative teaching, we lead the children and parents in a playful way. We provide food parcels, clothes, medicines, materials for house repairs, etc. The kids experienced how wonderful it is to draw a picture with coloured pencils. During the kids’ hour they were also shown how to create one’s own music instrument. The trust went so far that we were even allowed to wash their hair. Together with these families we could even build bridges across the river. The relationship with these people has matured and steadily grown.
Since September, we have 37 children attending school for the first time! We decided to have more strategic lessons in small groups, e.g. reading and writing help for teenagers. The mothers meet for handicraft work and are generally encouraged. They learn how to create income opportunities. Men meet to learn how to get a job. Near Albești, we bought a house to open a daycare centre – we hope to open it soon.
As good as these undertakings are, we are more concerned that these people learn about the truth of the Bible, receive God's love, put their life on solid ground and cherish their identity.
Over time, we have seen children mature and become people with a different, new perspective on life. For these young people it is a given that their children will attend school! We have seen some of them becoming teachers or missionaries – and others became good and loving parents.
«This is more of a vocation than simply a job to do!» In doing so, we serve the Creator of life – and as such also these people in Romania.
Do you want to be part of this journey? Come as a volunteer, serve there with your skills, pray for us or become a donor. We are grateful for any kind of support which helps to fulfil this great calling. We need people who want to use their skills to build God's kingdom – for HIS glory!