Children at Risk
PO Box 725434
Atlanta, GA 31139
The Need for Aspirations
After communism fell in Romania, pictures of neglected orphans outraged the world. Today, deprivation still haunts these "Children of Ceausescu" as they become adults. They continue to be marginalized and at-risk. Every year thousands of Romanian orphans turn 18 and are abruptly thrust from institutions into a life on their own they are unprepared for.
Consider this quotation:
One of our big challenges is teaching institutionalized youth about independent living. How does a child who has spent all his life in an institution pay a bill? What about buying food and keeping clean? When they leave the children's homes they hit these barriers; they can't get a job as they face terrible prejudice; they can't pay the bills; they can’t handle confrontations or difficult situations without getting violent or walking away. They're helpless . . .The world outside considers them unable to work or to take on any responsibility. In fact they are deeply insecure.
[Quoted from: National Authority for the Protection of Child's Rights, and European Union Phare Project, Educational Campaign on Child's Rights, September 2006]
They leave the institution abruptly, unprepared to re-enter society, with insufficient social skills, and deeply insecure. And they are subject to employment and social discrimination, as a result of their institutionalization as children.
Their insecurity leads to violent confrontations or abandonment of hope, and in too many cases to drug or alcohol dependency, crime, or exploitation. Having no childhood parental role model, these children have no basic understanding of normal family life and adult responsibilities.
How Aspirations Helps
Aspirations provides assistance to at-risk youth already known to MLI—girls from Deborah House or children in the Recas and Lugoj Harmony programs who will be most likely to succeed in Aspirations. Aspirations includes psychological, social skills, and family counseling, as well as basic family-unit financial and budget training, and some limited financial assistance. The program includes tutoring in job application and interview skills and some further job search assistance. University scholarships are made available to those individuals who have demonstrated the desire to work and to succeed academically.
MLI recently initiated the application process to obtain a government social program license in a category that affords required employment preference to Aspirations participants under Romanian employment law. This essential aspect of licensing the Aspirations program will assist the participants in overcoming the employment discrimination they otherwise face in Romania as formerly institutionalized children.
The end goal for each Aspirations participant is to become a functioning, independent, and self-supporting adult, fully integrated into Romanian society.