2020-04-13 ROMANIA

Lavalla200> in Moinesti

The community began on October 4, 2017, with the first members: Br. Barsen Garcia Alonso (Santa María de los Andes, Peru), Br. Mario Meuti (Mediterránea, Italy) and Br. Antolin Santos (Ibérica, España), with his 18 years of experience in Romania. He was not really from the Lavalla200> program, but his presence was indispensable to be able to communicate in the local context. At the end of February 2018 the other two members of the community joined us: Francisco Decezaro and Nanci Prochnow (Brasil Centro-Sul), after having waited for months for their visa for Romania.

At the start, people had the illusion that the Romanian language would be ”easy” because it was a Latin-based language, but it turned out to be quite difficult.  We tool language lessons every day, but still when Antolin returned to his work in Bucharest in June 2018, none of us was ready to manage to communicate with local people. So, Adriana, our language teacher, also took on the role of guide and mentor as we took our first steps with the local authorities and public offices.


Identifying a common ministry

From the time we arrived in Moinesti, we set about getting to know the local reality and culture and possibilities for ministry. We identified a need to work to prevent children from leaving school. So, we decided to set up a Centre for children and adolescents in situations of social vulnerability and risk of dropping out of school.

The Brothers belonging to the Province of Iberia, who work in the two Marist centres in Bucharest, thought of including the Moinesti community into their “Asociatia Fratilor Maristi ai Scolilor din Romania”, officially recognized by the government, with the idea of making our relations with public institutions possible. After a few months the community realized the need to create a branch of the Association in Moinesti and have it recognized legally. With the help of a lawyer and Brothers from Bucharest, recognition finally arrived at the end of May 2019, with our inclusion in the list of NGOs approved to operate in Romania.

Then it was necessary to get the new NGO accredited at the Ministry of Labour as an organisation allowed to work in the social domain.  This required much effort and patience.

In the meantime, we found a suitable building to house the new Marist centre: an isolated building, in the neighbourhood close to our community residence and close to public housing for families assisted by Social Services. The building has three spaces for activities, two separate bathrooms, a small office and a storage room. The lease contract was manageable, and some refurbishment began.

Finally, on August 9, 2019 the accreditation arrived, but due to legislative changes during this period of waiting, the premises, project and organization chart had to be approved by the Ministry of Labour. In addition, the approval of the Fire Brigade, Health authorities, and Veterinary and Food authorities were required…

On October 20, 2019, the whole dossier was ready and sent to the Ministry. Finally, on December 5, 2019, the community could celebrate: the provisional LICENSE valid for one year had arrived!

Finally a Marist centre in Moinesti

“CENTRUL DE ZI MARISTI”: this is the name of the ministry of the Lavalla200> community that has been living in MoineČ™ti, in the Moldavian region of Romania for over two years. After the approval received in December, on January 6, 2020, the four community members and the three contracted specialists got together to get to know one another, and for us to give an introduction to the Marist world, our presence in Moinesti, our educational style… A plan of action was prepared: contact the families indicated by the Social Services; meet the school principal; and distribute invitations to possible candidates for a meeting to explain our project. This took place on January 16: there were not many mothers, but they were all interested and ready to register.

On the strength of this request, our social worker, accompanied by another person, was able to start the home visits: carry out a family survey, listen to the needs expressed and prepare a first needs analysis… Some of the mothers invited others and within a few days we had 11 children: 8 from 6 to 9 years old and three teenage girls. One thing is for sure: they all have personal, school and family issues: only one child in eleven, for example, has the surname of his father, but he no longer lives with the family either…

We began by inviting the kids for three days of settling in: games, some music, a nice snack, a simple art workshop…

Monday, January 27th saw the full program swing into action from 13.30 to 17.00. The first session (13.30-15.00) is dedicated exclusively to homework, then there is a snack, free time, a game of some sort;  in the second session there are very practical educational activities: guidance on living with others, hygiene, food; educational games, short reflections, board games…

Very quickly we realized the enormous difficulties they experience at school: the youngest are 6 years old and attend a preparatory class prior to first grade… Even after a month it is still a battle to get them to sit still and concentrate for a while. Those of the 1st and 2nd class are a bit more advanced, but they struggle with reading and basic mathematical operations! Finally, the three teenage girls require personalized attention and recovery exercises far below their class grade.

In February, in addition to working on their behaviour towards one another, we engaged in some craftwork: preparing the traditional gifts that people exchange for the Spring Festival on March 1st, and little presents for their mothers on March 8th, which is Mother’s Day in Romania.

For this occasion, we arranged a small concert with all the children, ending with a song to the mothers present, giving the gifts and enjoying a nice snack all together… And without having planned it, one of the staff put some well-known music on and the traditional dances began.  Everyone joined all the more happily because it was so unexpected.

The official inauguration of the Centre was scheduled for March 13: we had distributed invitations to the civil and religious authorities: the Mayor, the pastors of the Catholic and Orthodox churches, the Director of Social Services, the Principal and some teachers of the school, a couple of our brothers from Bucharest and other friends who helped us in the long preparatory phase… But the Coronavirus, also in Romania, changed our plans! The Centre had to close and everything is postponed until after the crisis.

It’s time to complete the demands of bureaucracy working from home: pages and pages of reports, minutes and documents to be updated… We are waiting for a detailed inspection that will confirm that the Centre is in compliance with the law and then grant us a 5 year license.

Centrul de zi Mariști – FaceBook


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