About RICF 

Why is RICF needed?

In December 1989, Ceausescu's Communist regime was overthrown. For over a generation, the Romanian public had been instructed to have as many children as possible, to increase the country's population. Families produced children they had no means to support, and were still encouraged to produce more. If they were unable to care for their children, they could be cared for in large state orphanages. However, the poor facilities, and lack of training and resources for staff in these orphanages led to a very poor standard of care in most cases, and a generation of institutionalised children, poorly prepared for family life.

 

After the Revolution in 1989, the state of these orphanages was exposed to the world, through countless news bulletins, television documentaries and magazine articles. Several charities and individuals started up projects in Romania, to improve the quality of life for children in the orphanages, be it through providing an extra pair of hands to help care for them, or through fundraising efforts to provide improved facilities, new buildings, and subsidies to improve the quality of food. Organisations moved in to help provide improved training for staff and improved education for the children, both for children with normal academic potential and those with special educational needs.

 

Salaries remain very low compared with the ever increasing cost of living. It is rare that an employee can save any part of his or her salary from month to month to put towards purchasing a property or even a household appliance. Many young families cannot afford to buy or even rent a place to live, and instead rely on their parents providing a portion of their home for the subsequent generations. This means that many families live in cramped conditions. Problems associated with poverty and poor living conditions have been confounded by alcohol abuse, poor physical and mental health, and a feeling of hopelessness.

 

In 2006, 17 years on from the Revolution children are still being abandoned and are still living on the streets in Romania. Street children still sniff the solvent 'aurolac' which numbs their hunger pangs but is also known to cause permanent damage to their developing brains. Children and young people still live in small groups on the streets, sometimes gaining warmth by sleeping in underground tunnels on the hot water pipes that convey hot water through the main cities. These children are subject to all four recognised categories of child abuse: physical, emotional, sexual and neglect. They are hit at and shouted at by passers by. They are exploited sexually in exchange for minimal sums of money or for food. They are deprived of the love and warmth of a family home that all children should receive as a right, and they miss out on schooling. The gaps in their development; educational, emotional, social and physical, can soon become irreversible.

 

The government is actively trying to find these children and offer them a place of safety, but the need outstrips the available resources.

 

RICF was set up in response to this need. See our vision and our projects to find out how the need is being met.