ROCKLAND ROMANIAN OUTREACH
Rockland’s outreach to Romania began in the early 2000s. Originally a “three-pronged” program, funding today is primarily directed to supporting needy high school students in the Cluj area. The focus areas include or have included the following:
Statistically, as recently as 2008 only 54% of the children from rural areas in Romania attended high school. Others were forced to abandon their schooling due to poverty. In most cases, families did not see education as a priority, parents did not encourage their children to study, and they were kept home to help on farms or around the home. Lacking this opportunity, these children would have been “left behind,” forced to work on subsistence farms in the villages and unable to better themselves through a high school education.
A scholarship program, administered by World Vision Romania, is committed to an annual support of 45 students. To date, more than 90 Rockland-sponsored students have graduated from high school - and most of whom have gone on to college, trade school or service jobs. Key benefits of this program include:
- Providing equal chances for children from rural areas to achieve their potential
- Decreasing the drop-out rate
- Students who are the beneficiaries of this project are truly agents of change, who will ultimately change the mentalities of their parents and community members in terms of their view of education.
Each sponsorship actually only covers half of what is needed to fund the program. The balance comes from donations and money raised at the annual fundraiser.
ST. MARY’S DAYCARE
The financial support of St. Mary’s, a facility for developmentally challenged adults, has allowed this program to grow and thrive. While programs such as this one are common in the United States, they are an anomaly in Romania. The vision for this, as well as the success of St. Mary’s should be attributed to the hard work and fundraising efforts of Mariana Ilias and her daughter, Anca Additional funding contributed from Rockland, however, allowed the building itself to become a reality.
The new building was dedicated in October 2016. Bob and Kittly Ehret from Rockland were on hand to cut the ribbon and see this long-awaited facility become a reality.
A unique opportunity presented itself with Rockland’s relationship with a Romanian Orthodox church in Urisor (Sts. Mihai Gabriel). It was the first time an Orthodox church has accepted training and implemented programs suggested by a Protestant Church (i.e. Rockland). Through a systematic method of mentorship and direction, the church has adopted both a Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. This has had a positive impact on bringing young children to the church for programs applicable to their age group. The future is encouraging!
For more information on the Romanian Outreach, please Email Bob Ehret