I thought today I'd take you on a little tour of our after-school program through some pictures and stories.
We have two and a half weeks of school left, and here, the kids are still working hard. We have a few fun things planned for the weeks ahead. We are planning a field trip to the zoo on the last day of school. We're also planning to have a cook-out during the last week. But for now it's business as usual and our kids are working hard. Right now, we have three teachers working with the kids. They currently split the kids based on their need level. We are really trying to meet the needs of the kids where they are, and because of our after-school status (and not being tied to a specific school program) we can do exactly that. We have some students who are just learning to read while others are working ahead of grade level (and of course we have everything in between, as well).
Here are a few pictures to show you what's been going on around after-school.
|Kids studying with Cristina|
|Claudiu and Anamaria working with their groups|
|Florin also came by to work on reading and writing...|
|...and he learned to write his name!|
|Sometimes the kids even help out with the kitchen work.|
|Cristina working with the kids to make some pastries on a special school day|
|Anamaria and the kids|
|Zozo working with one of the boys|
|Zozo working with a couple of guys on learning the alphabet|
|Zozo and I working on the lunch for the day|
|Claudiu with his group...working on math|
|We received some clothes and set up a "store" so the kids could pick what they wanted|
|Hot Dog Day at After-School|
|With Alex in the Apalina Church|
Alex is one of my favorite kids in Apalina because he is so kind and so smart. I have known him since my first trip to Romania to work with Attila in 2010. Last year he was a part of the after-school program as an 8th grader. This year he started attending the high-school in the city where he was studying to be a mechanic. Shortly after I arrived in Romania in November, he stopped going to school. When I asked him about his decision, he told me that he wanted to be free to play football (soccer). His parents also supported this decision. I asked him what he would do when he was older and could no longer play football, but that didn't go very far. His sight was on the present and what made him happy in that moment. About two months ago, Alex broke his ankle very badly in a football match. He was in a cast for about two months. When I visited him, I asked him if he would be able to play football again, and he said no. Alex is a very smart guy, who could do very well in school if he wanted to. Unless something changes and he goes back to school, he will be faced with a life of just finding what work he can.
Kandasz is currently a 5th grader. I have also known him since I came here in 2010. He has never really attended school with any sincerity. Starting in January, he started coming pretty regularly. During this time, he was working with Zozo on learning to read. When Kandasz started coming here, he knew very few of the letters of the alphabet. Zozo started working on this with him in earnest, but the one problem we had was consistency in coming to school. One day he would be here, and then he would miss three days. When he returned, he couldn't remember what he had practiced the last time he was here. Finally, he just stopped coming altogether. When I talked with him (and his mother) about his attendance, he told me that he had work to do at home on those days. At this point, Kandasz is still not coming to school, and he still doesn't know how to read or even write his own name.
The stories of these two boys, while very different, exemplify a very specific problem here. The children and the parents all live for the moment. Getting them to see the importance of an education that may pay off in ten or more years is very difficult when providing food for that very day may be more important. Figuring out how to reach these kids (and their parents) is a constant challenge. I'm so thankful for Cristina and Claudiu who come from a somewhat similar background, but are great examples of what an education can provide. They both teach in the local school here, and they work with us each day after school. I'm praying for more and more examples that can show how an education can be a help. Thank you for your praying and support of our program.