Association of Orphans from Orphanages
Donations Boost Internet Club for Romanian Orphans
In 1991, the images of Romanian orphanages shocked the world, prompting lots of international helping and adopting hands to reach out to Romania for a couple of years. But in 1996, kids just exiting the Romanian institutionalized system decided to contribute a helping hand, too. So they founded the only social service association built by orphan kids for orphan kids — a lesson in self-help and empowerment.
In 2011, the Association of Orphans from Orphanages requested recycled computers and Microsoft Windows software from TechSoup Romania. The technology is nothing out of the ordinary, but what the association is doing with it is anything but ordinary. It helps institutionalized orphans to learn computer skills and be better prepared for a very different life.
First, the association distributed the computers to orphans who were enrolled in colleges and needed to finish their final theses and take their final exams. Then it taught those students to design their CVs and apply for better jobs. As a result, 20 young orphans have already found jobs in Romania, and some are even working abroad.
Now the organization has an Internet club for all the children in their organization. Kids learn how to use the computers to work on their school projects or to find things that interest them. The children also use the computers to research financial resources for their organization. Last year, they won a 10,000-euro educational project award for the association.
“We wouldn’t have thought about buying this software, considering the price and our lack of funds,” says Mihai Ghebrea, president and founder of the association, and an orphan himself. TechSoup’s donation program made it possible for the group to save money and reinvest it in other activities for the 500 orphan kids it works with and the 300 orphan members of the association. This year, it will organize a social inclusion camp for Romanian orphans — the “I can” camp, as the group proudly calls it.
The IT goal for the future is to open other Internet clubs for kids closer to where they live — some of the children still have to walk five kilometers just to use a computer.
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