Before March, many of AISB’s students spent time visiting pediatric hospitals, playing with underprivileged children, and teaching English to Romanian public school students. Unfortunately, these types of volunteer opportunities have become impossible—or at least, very difficult.
While we’re unsure if school will reopen mid-January, we hope that children’s rights groups will be able to overcome the existing hurdles. This article serves as a small window into the challenges, aims, and achievements of some of AISB’s service learning groups.
Usually, each month, AISB students deliver packages to the 50+ children who live in Mia’s orphanage. The contents vary depending on needs, but tend to include toiletries, clothes, shoes, or food.
Since summer, it’s been more difficult to deliver because of pandemic restrictions, but the group still managed a Christmas drop-off in early December—just before Mia and 21 of the children were diagnosed with COVID.
With a history of serious illnesses, Mia is extremely vulnerable, and service leaders Georgia M. and Luana O. worry the children could fall into the abusive state system without our help. If you’re interested in getting involved, email Georgia at firstname.lastname@example.org, or donate, using the information at the end of the article.
The Mia’s Children service group has made significant accomplishments during the last three years; and according to Georgia, one of the most significant is helping with food shortages as a result of the March lockdown. “We managed to promote the urgency of the cause and raised enough donations to ensure that no child went hungry, which is an extraordinary example of how we can all step up and make a palpable change in the world,” she says.
This service group tries to raise awareness about the issue of underprivileged children in Romania through creative projects. Prior to COVID-19, the group held many visits to hospitals and schools alike.
“It’s a tough year, especially for groups which were heavily reliant on direct volunteering,” say student leaders Daria M. and Andreea V. “It’s an incredible opportunity for positive change and providing aid to many children.”
Operating at AISB for a while now, the members’ actions have heavily depended on direct service. This includes visits to the Victor Gomoiu hospital and preparing recreational activities for and with the children of the hospital or local public schools. Unfortunately, these pursuits have not been possible since March, forcing the service group to shift gears. For example, the English tutoring classes have gone online, via Zoom.
When David S, a student leader of the F.A.C.T. service group, was asked about their goals for this year it was to “educate more people about trafficking, including the significance of the issue, relevancy in Romania, and potential solutions.”
While this goal has been made more difficult during distance learning, the group members are still passionate about the issues, and are finding ways to spread important information—like creating educational grid posts on their new Instagram account.
“People should get involved because trafficking is a global issue that has been overlooked for too long,” says David. “And the issue is especially significant in Romania.”
Ilinca P, a sophomore and devoted member of service group PAVEL, got involved because of her aspirations to pursue a medical career. “I wanted to start interacting with patients early on. I wanted to build my communication skills, and I wanted to learn methods that could improve a patient’s quality of life,” she says.
What distinguishes PAVEL from many other service groups at AISB are the “raw and real experiences” that it offers. “The children that we visit suffer from very aggressive and dangerous diseases,” says Ilinca. “It may not be easy to see them at first, because it can be truly heartbreaking and many of them haven’t even passed the age of 10. But unfortunately, this is the reality of the world that we live in and it is important to be conscious of it and to mature and grow without being indifferent.”
While PAVEL aims to help children, it also serves as a medium for developing emotional maturity, exposing members to experiences that will surely have a great impact on your life. Their aim this year is to support the material needs of the children at the hospital, Fundeni Oncological Institute.
“People should get involved because their contributions could actually change the lives of these children,” Ilinca explains. “We focus on interacting with them because it is essential for their well-being. And mental health plays a key role in helping the children fight their various forms of cancer. By getting involved, you can be part of this positive impact on their lives.”
Fundraising in the time of COVID
Many of us have asked ourselves how we can raise funds to support our service groups with school being closed. Thanks to Liliana Stefene, the business manager at AISB, there has been the creation of two new bank accounts (one in Romanian Leu and one in Euros) to put an end to our doubts and see our service learning initiatives prosper.
Margritha Hofman, the service-learning coordinator at AISB, newly informed us on the details of these donations. She goes on to highlight that, “In order to have the funds explicitly allocated towards each service learning group or service event, please ensure that each donation by parent(s) or student(s) mentions on the explanation of the payment order the purpose that they are donating for (i.e. PAVEL, HIV Romania or STUFF THE BUS or any other project you might consider for the future).”
Below are the details:
Bank name: Raiffeisen Bank S.A
Bank address: SMB, Grigore Alexandrescu Street, Bucharest, Sector 1
Account holder: The American International School of Bucharest – Filiala din Romania
RON account IBAN: RO34RZBR0000060022213072
EUR account IBAN: RO43RZBR0000060022213104.
Winter season (whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or nothing at all) is a time of giving. Now that you have an idea of what opportunities are available at our school, The Bite asks you, what will you do to make the change you want to see in the world?