BufKids Day Center

BufKids is the first and only day care center in Buciumeni, an extremely vulnerable neighbourhood in the heart of Buftea. Initially conceived as a replica of the successful Hercules Day Care Center in Costesti, active since 2007, BufKids was built from zero on a piece of land made available to our Association Hercules by the Buftea Townhall. Habitat for Humanity Romania, our partner, was the NGO to build the center’s building in 2018 – 2019, helped by thousands of corporate volunteers and with private funds from companies. Habitat for Humanity will also build the center’s canteen, a separate building next to the Center.

The official opening of the BufKids Center was planned for March 19, 2020, but the Covid 19 pandemics forced us to start our activity discreetly, almost silently, with no fuss, no cut ribbons, no dear guests besides us to celebrate. Yet, the pandemics and the following uncertainty did not stop us from being there for the community and especially for the kids, who were in great part interviewed by phone and who took part in lots of educational activities via internet, especially via whatsapp. We have our small team and our sponsors to thank – United Way Romania and Raiffeisen Bank Romania – for helping us be present in the community, even when socially distant.

Below you can read the project description as originally drafted. However, the activities of our center currently happen remotely – by phone mainly – until we or their school manage to equip the children with laptops or tablets. Apart from helping them with homework and keeping up with the school subjects, we also offer children via telephone psychological counselling.

The funds we would have used for their daily meal at the center were transformed into packages we delivered at the children’s homes: basic food supplies, hygiene products and masks.

What is BufKids all about

Every day, 50 children aged 6 – 14 come to our center before or after school to study, eat, learn new exciting things, make friends and play. The kids attend the school across the street from our center – School no 4 and school no 3 in the neighbouring district Flămânzeni – equally poor as Buciumeni, where we are located.

Our kids have at least two things in common: the social and financial hardships in their families and the children’s wish and motivation to learn and overcome the sheer poverty they inherited from many generations in their families.

Our first aim in this project is to help children continue to go to school and not drop out of school because of the poverty they live in. We also want to increase both the children’s capacity and their motivation to learn.

As it often happens in too many communities in Romania – a country whose school drop-out rate is sadly double compared to other European countries – poor children tend to abandon school. Parents will not send them too school because they have too many children and cannot offer each one of them the necessary shoes, clothes, books and school supplies to go to school. If they do go to school, it often happens that hunger keeps them from focusing on their work and deteriorates their health. At home, children do not have the right conditions or the necessary support to do their homework so they generally come to school unprepared.

When they go to school unprepared, poorly dressed and with a poor hygiene, children are too often laughed at by their peers, excluded and discriminated – often also by their teachers, especially when the kids belong to the Roma ethnic group.

Just as we did for the children in Costesti, we aim to offer children not only quality education, to complete school education, but also a friendly environment, with teachers who care about the children’s need, including their emotional needs. We aim at making the lives of the children at least a bit easier and their childhood at least a bit more beautiful. We will make sure that all the children at BufKdis will go to school with their heads up, empowered, clean, well dressed, all tidy, well taken care of.

Our main objectives in this project:

  • Preventing school dropout and developing the ability to learn of children coming from severely disadvantaged families > by participating in after school programs, reading clubs, IT clubs, informal education activities
  • Increasing the children’s educational level and their social skills > by offering informal education, extra-scholarly activities in a warm, friendly environment
  • Incrementing the children’s quality of life > by offering at least one warm meal a day, psychological counselling, access to basic medical assistance, basic material support consisting of school supplies, books, clothes and shoes, basic hygiene items
  • Developing parenting skills among parents
  • Involving the community in the children’s education with help from volunteers (teachers included) and developing partnerships within the community to the benefit of the children.

Our services and activities will change and will be diversified depending on the children’s needs and interests and the opportunities and partnerships that will come up. However, they will always include:

  • Educational activities for children: help with homework during the after school programme, clubs aimed at fighting functional illiteracy and developing different basic abilities (reading, writing, basic knowledge of foreign languages or computer literacy), arts and crafts and other creative activities, personal development, recreational activities and free play, especially when it comes to younger kids.
  • Food serving – at least one meal a day. The daily meal(s) will be initially offered by a local restaurant and will later be cooked and offered at the center’s canteen
  • Providing kids with the needed books, school supplies, clothes and hygiene items
  • Professional psychological support and counselling
  • Parental counselling and social assistance for parents
  • Training for every teacher – whether volunteers or staff and – depending on the available resources – for all the teachers in the partner schools – in order to prevent any form of abuse and discrimination in school