Romania Physical Therapy Team (130712ROPT)
Homeless children and poverty in Romania
In 1966 communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu banned contraception and abortions in Romania. He dreamed of creating a large, industrialized military state. But he did not have the resources to care for all of the children that his new laws produced. Rates of poverty, homelessness and hunger all grew as the population swelled. Families could not provide for their children and were forced to abandon them in state-run placement center or on the streets.
Today, Romania struggles with weak economic conditions, high inflation rates and a small middle class. The government estimates that 28 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. There are still over 35,000 children in placement centers (homes for orphans and children whose parents cannot care for them); 78 percent of those children are older than 9. Romania’s acceptance into the European Union in January 2007 has further strained the welfare system, as they try to meet requirements for a lower number of documented orphans. Although the Romanian government reports that the number of orphans has dropped, thousands of orphaned and abandoned children live on the streets and in the sewers. Families still intact struggle to be self-sufficient as they battle high unemployment rates, poor infrastructure, disease and alcoholism.
Medical Teams International has sent 113 volunteer teams and 43 shipments of medicines and supplies to Romania since 1990. We have also financially supported Fundatia Heart of Hope for work on numerous projects.
Plans for 2012-2013
Medical Teams International will send five volunteer teams to care for more than 5,000 Romanian orphans, children and adults living in extreme poverty. The teams will be as follows:
- Two medical teams will provide care to orphans
- One dental team will provide dental care and hygeine training
- One optometry team will provide free exams and glasses
- One Gift of Hope team will distribute Christmas gifts to children in placement centers