SOS Children's Villages started working in Romania after the fall of Nicolae Ceausescu in 1989. The appalling conditions of Romanian orphanages were reported worldwide: the children were malnourished, badly cared for and living in terrible conditions. Two SOS Children's Villages were built and the children were able to move into their new homes with their SOS families in 1993. SOS Children's Villages has continued to work in the country, supporting children, young people and families in three locations in the country.
Children growing up in one of the most deprived areas of Romania
Children playing in SOS Children`s Village Hemeiuisi (photo: K. Ilievska).
Hemeiusi and Bacau are small towns in the Moldavian region, in the north-east of the country and about 300 kilometres to the north of Bucharest.
This is one of the poorest regions of Romania, where gross domestic product is among the lowest in the country. Many families live in poverty and there are an increasing number of children who lose parental care.
This part of the country is mostly rural and the infrastructure is under-developed. The region also has a high unemployment rate. The inadequate transport infrastructure makes it an unattractive investment location for businesses.
A considerable proportion of working-age people have migrated to urban areas or abroad in search of work, leaving behind children and elderly relatives. In many cases the children are left with the older generation, or with other relatives who are not always able to take good care of them.
SOS Children's Villages provides alternative support and care
Although more than three decades have passed since the images of the Romanian orphanages shocked the world after the fall of Ceausescu, many children in Romania continue to live in impoverished conditions.
In a region where measures to support families and to prevent abandonment are insufficient, the work of SOS Children's Villages was particularly needed and has been well received.
What we do in Hemeiusi
Family life: sisters sharing secrets (photo: K. Ilievska).
The prevention of poverty and abandonment is a high priority for SOS Children's Villages in Romania in general and in Hemeiusi (previously known as SOS Children’s Village Hemeius) in particular.
Strengthen families: The family strengthening programme enables children who are at risk of losing the care of their family to grow within a caring family environment. To achieve this, we offer access to essential services for children’s development (for example educational, nutritional and health advice) and we support families so that they can protect and care for their children.
Care in SOS families: Children whose families can no longer take care of them can find a loving home in SOS families. The families live in the town of Bacua, alongside other local families.
Support young people: In Bacau, there is also a youth programme where young adults who are attending school or learning a profession can live. The young people are encouraged to become more independent and responsible: for example, they learn to cook and to manage a budget.