Social inclusion, Migration, A study conducted by the United Nations shows that in the period 2000-2015 Romania was the second country in terms of population growth rate in the diaspora (7.3% per year), the first country being Syria, where the growth is caused by war.

The ones left behind

Romania's white orphans

Creators

Who is behind this?

Ruxandra Popescu

Centrul Român pentru Politici Europene

http://www.crpe.ro

Romania

Idea

Idea pitch

The ones left behind: the children left after parents went for a temporary period of time to work abroad. They are being left in the care of the extended family or sometimes in the orphanages. We want to map 15 stories of these children and to present their challenges through documentary photography, research and journalism.
Besides the grassroots documentation, we will research the phenomenon of white orphans nation-wide. At the end of the project we will present the results.

Where will your project idea take place?

București, Rahova și Ferentari;
Constanța
Hunedoara, Petrila
Tulcea

What is the local challenge?

A study conducted by UNICEF in 2014 showed that in 2008 there were 350,000 children with at least one parent abroad, and 126,000 children under the age of 10 had both parents abroad. The figures show that the problem is a national one. In most cases, the parents do not notify the authorities regarding the departure and the situation of the child or children left behind (although this is stipulated in the law). This means that the magnitude of the problem is much greater and that social services cannot monitor the situation of these children.
The project also wants to bring this issue to the general public - the 500 copies of the publication The Remaining will be distributed to institutions, museums, NGOs and other relevant actors.

How does your idea strengthen democracy and active citizenship at a local and community level?

The project will result in a better understanding of the authorities on this subject, who will receive a series of recommendations on working with such children - both central and local authorities. Attention will be drawn to this topic among the population, through the publication, which will contain extensive research, but also the concrete stories of some children in this situation. Moreover, we will reach the general public through social media, where we will post images and videos from the field. It is also a way to bring documentary photography into the mainstream, by documenting such a subject that requires working with small communities, with a specific vulnerable group.
We expect a better understanding of the subject, especially because the publication will reach many actors.

Who are you doing it for?

Our main beneficiaries are children and extended families left behind in 15 communities. We will map the situation of at least 50 people involved, of which at least 15 white orphans, the other people being extended family members or guardians. We will discuss with other actors involved in the lives of these children: teachers, social workers, local authorities. In total, the stories will be based on discussions with about 100 people from four counties and from Bucharest.
10,000 informed people online, where we will use our own platform, but also the online platforms of the Documentary Photography Center and of Residence Scena9.

How do you plan to get there?

The documentation will be done together with the photographer Ioana Cîrlig, from the Documentary Photography Center, who in the past has made projects in which she documented social situations or vulnerable groups such as the life of families in Romania, life in post-industrial communities and what happened with rural areas in Romania following the transition. In the field, we will capture the situation of children who remained in the care of the extended family, children who remained in the care of siblings, children left alone after their parents left for financial reasons abroad. Documentation will be done both photo, video and audio. Before the documentation, we will contact local authorities to find out details about their community and the incidence of parental absence in it.

What are the expected results?

The concrete results are:
meetings with local actors in order to map the issues, and afterwards with central actors in the Government and the NGO field to show them the results and the solutions
15 mapped stories of the children left behind and the families that are taking care of them
Documentary printing and research (500 pieces that will be distributed to relevant actors all across romania)
Online dissemination consisting in infographics, photographs and videos from the field, Facebook events, media appearances
Organizing an exposition and disseminating the publication
One journalistic text published in a national journalistic publication

How does your initiative contribute to strengthening democracy in Europe?

We cannot build democratic countries without taking care of all its citizens - especially the vulnerable ones, that need specific policies and specific research on the challenges they are facing. Because of low incomes and poverty, many Romanians, even underaged, are traveling abroad to cover their basic needs and to offer their children a better life. But the children are being left behind.
This is a transnational problem and the children left behind and their families need special policies in order to have access to equal rights in terms of education, basic needs, health, counseling...
The main goal is to create an informal coalition and to cover the needs of the white orphans - the ones that are still in the care of their extended family and the institutionalized ones.

What is your story?

The project’s aim is to map the challenges of children left behind. Most of the children remain in the care of the extended family, siblings or alone. However, 7% of children in orphanages fall into the category of white orphans (UNICEF, 2017):
"For example, why did you have to come to the center? Remember?
- Yes ... But I don't want to say why. No, because I'm ashamed.
Nothing we're talking about here is shameful. Please tell us.
- Because my grandmother scolded me; my mother left to Great Britain and my grandmother sent me away from home "
(discussion from a focus group conducted by UNICEF in 2017 in orphanages)
Romania doesn’t have yet the mechanisms to protect these children and, first of all, to prevent family breakup. We still fail to understand the magnitude of the phenomenon.

€ 3500,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

€ 35000,-

Total budget

Major expenses

16 000 euros (management, research, PR and communication)
11 000 euros services (graphic design, print, photo/video documentation, logistics, journalistic resource)
3 000 euros travel and accommodation expenses
3 000 euros (Facebook ADS, office expenses, recorder, microphone)
2 000 euros administrative costs NGO

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We would like to know how we can improve the impact on the families and children left behind, besides telling their stories and advocating the problem tot the local and central authorities.

Team

ruxandra.popescu

Idea created on May 27, 2020

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