We had a great morning at the Ruth School. We saw MDG 2 (Achieve universal primary education) at work firsthand. The Ruth School is a primary school for Roma children, and while school is not in session during the summer, the neighborhood children are never too far from the building. We shared a morning with those children, singing songs about the parts of the body, teaching them to play baseball, learning about the uniqueness of our fingerprints, and seeing MDG 2 at work. Being in the Ruth School facility today was a great opportunity to put places and faces with an idea I’ve been hearing about for so long.
Yesterday our team visited the home of a very traditional Roma family of the Gábor tribe. The father, a very kind man with obvious love for God, his family, his heritage, shared with us that he didn’t want his children to go to school. While this may seem strange, a conventional education isn’t relevant to the Roma lifestyle. He challenged us with the question, “What is the use of a general education? It places no value on our heritage and does nothing to prepare you for future work within the family’s tribe.” I saw the father’s point. I began to wonder if the MDG of Universal Primary Education was really that important. Who should impose this value on a culture that wants to preserve its current way of life?
Today changed that for me. We spent the afternoon in a meeting with Romania’s UNICEF office. The two staff persons provided wonderful insight into the Roma community, their struggles, and informed us of the ways that UNICEF is working to eliminate education inequality and close gender gaps between the Roma and Romanian cultures. Our meeting opened my eyes to the potential of primary education, not to defeat a culture, but to empower it. A primary education, when attentive to the needs of a community, is no longer a threat to a person’s heritage or identity. Rather, it can be an opportunity.
In our meeting today we learned about UNICEF’s efforts through the Integrated and Comprehensive Approach to Education. This pilot program seeks to integrate Roma teachers into the education system so that they can be role models for the Roma community. We learned that the number one cause of dropout among the Roma is the poor command of the Romanian language, which prevents the Roma children from thriving beyond the 1st or 2nd grade. To address this issue, UNICEF has developed a Romany language manual and ABC books for preschool and kindergarten children in an effort to close this gap. We learned that if a child is living in poverty, you can’t just address the education issues. Instead, you must address the systems that create these problems. This UNICEF pilot program addresses not only education, but also Health, Hunger/Malnourishment, Parent Involvement, and Integration of Community Services. This comprehensive approach is a hopeful step forward in the journey to bridge the gap between the Roma tradition and the value of a primary school education. It seeks to answer yes to the question, “Will what I learn in school be relevant to what I’ll do with my life?” This was the problem we saw firsthand yesterday.
We also addressed MDG 7 (Ensure environmental sustainability). Through UNICEF’s Rural Community Model, they work to address the issue of access to clean water, as they found many children missed school because of water-borne illnesses. The Rural Community Program addresses issues that affect a child’s ability to succeed, not just through curriculum and facilities, but with access to safe drinking water, too. As Eugen from UNICEF challenged us, “Who would have thought that clean water could advance education? Sometimes you have to think outside the box!”
This trip is an incredible challenge. And an incredible opportunity. I ask for your continued prayers on behalf of our team as we close out our time in Romania and prepare for travel to Ethiopia Wednesday morning. Your love and prayers are appreciated and felt, even though we are far away
I am so jealous right now! (Lord forgive me…)
I want to be with you on your journey. I guess I’ll have to make due with living vicariously through your posts! Keep it up…please.
You are all doing amazing things for the glory of God’s kingdom! I praise each and every one of you for your devotion and passion and know that through your work His kingdom will be honored. Love to you all and know that people very far away are praying for you and your mission.
Beautiful job, Rosie. Thanks to everyone on the team for your honest insights. As you share, we benefit. Developing a faith-based response to extreme poverty is a worthy and necessary struggle for each of us. I am thankful for all of you on the team. Be sure to take care of yourselves and each other. Can’t wait to see you in Uganda.
Great blog. Thanks for keeping us updated on your MDG journey!
Hi, guys. The blog is wonderful. It sounds like this trip has already shaken your hearts and minds. I can’t wait to join you. ¡Nos vemos en Londres! -caitlin
Reaching out to others brings honor to Christ. That doesn’t mean it is always easy. I can’t imagine what you are experiencing. Thanks so much for sharing even the doubtful parts with us. You are all in our prayers. Reading the blogs gives us insight and direction on how to pray. Please keep it up.
We love and miss you Caleb. Know that we are proud of you and are praying for you.
Mom & Dad
Thank you all for all the details in your blogging! It helps us picture where you are and what you are experiencing. It is wonderful help as we pray for you each day.
Thanks for sharing!
Rosie – Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Can you also see how education would help the Roma in Tuzser to break their cycles of poverty? I look forward to hearing more…
What challenges you are seeing, firsthand!!! The idea of empowering individuals within a strong cultural heritage to embrace faith, educational opportunities and clean water will require creativity and tools. I am so thankful that God, who wants abundance (however we define it) for us all, is the brilliant source of all creativity. Thank you, Rosie, for articulating the dilemma and giving us all a focus for prayer.
Thank you for your thoughtful reflection on the MDG of Universal Primary Education–protecting heritage while enabling progress is complicated. Don and I said goodbye to Amy and Caitlin this afternoon in the B’ham airport. We pray that you’ll all meet up safely in London and continue this journey. Love to you, Fran, and all the team members.
I truly agree with consciousness awakening part of the post.!
People rating poverty as poor from their hearts is the first step towards any revolution to be taking place..
The Millennium Development goals of the UN..works this principle..!
They want people to think..question themselves and then come forward to their bit in the cause..!
It has being doing enormous efforts on these lines….
This year UN will be shifting its focus on India, with Stand Up and Take action event and getting many hands together to fulfill the 8 goals…
Be updated….with the latest happeningss..
Rosie, so glad to read a blog from you! I can imagine it must very difficult to implement this educational change within a culture that says they don’t need it. I love reading these updates and knowing exactly what yall are doing and what challenges yall are faced with. I know God is working in and through each of you. You are making a difference, even if it seems very small. Know that I am praying for you and your team and you are always in my thoughts. I love you so much and miss you incredibly. Can’t wait to hear more from you. Love, Jenn
Wow, Rosie, this experience even just with the schools must have been life-changing! Thank you for giving us the opportunity to be changed as well. It’s exciting for me as I recognize that people all over the world are beginning to see that education is one of the only ways to empower people! Good luck with the rest of your trip. We miss you!