The Fountain of Hope After-School Center in Panatau opened its doors for its 5th school year this October. This year has seen a dramatic increase in the number of children applying to attend and receive a free hot meal, homework help and extracurricular activities. While last year the number of beneficiaries had grown from 22-25, this year it has increased to a total of 41 children!
This increase reflects both the severity of the impact of the economic crisis in this rural village, as well as the increasing popularity of the center amongst the children. When the project first began, some of the children were teased by their collegues and felt ashamed about going to the center. However, the annual Open Day programs that invite all of the children from the local school to watch a short video starring the Fountain of Hope children seems to have helped shift this view – to the point where, if space allowed it, all 200 of the children from the school would want to attend the program.
Another event that increased community involvement was a summer volunteer program Club “TIP” (the Clever Kids of Panatau Club) in which local teenagers collectively sculpted and painted mural on the walls of the study room.
For more photos go to:
Club TIP – photo album
In addition, the community has had the chance to come in contact with the center as it is rented out for various local events such as baptisms and birthday parties to generate income to help cover costs for various repairs. Recently a group of Swiss students visited the center, and the funds raised were used to buy new wood laminate flooring to replace the myriad of carpets that had covered the bare cement.
The Fountain of Hope began in 2007, in partnership with the Panatau Community and The Cooperating Netherlands Foundation. Its main goal was to reduce the rate of primary school dropout in the village, and indeed, none of the children benefitting from the Fountain of Hope’s services have been held back or dropped out. While the majority of such after-school centers in the area closed due to lack of funding, thanks to the involvement of AMURTEL’s international network of sponsors and the local community council of Panatau the project has survived despite severe cuts in social services nationwide. Please help us to keep it going! We will be needing extra help this year to support the increased costs!
For more information on all the projects of Romania go to: Amurtel Romania.