Lifelong Learning Programme

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Success Stories

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Why me?
High Secondary School
Identification of students’ at risk
Ancuta, a brown-haired girl with playful eyes, came into 9th grade to the Stefanesti High School form Romanesti, a village 10 kilometres away. Her parents were simple, country, folk, both over 60, both with a primitive mentality and a “gift” for consuming large quantities of alcoholic beverages, a poison that often lead to violence.
After only one month of school, I noticed Ancuta had been skipping classes, over 35 lessons. As her head teacher, I took her case. I tried to discuss with her but every time we brought up her problem she would begin to cry. I understood then that I was dealing with a serious case.
After numerous visits at her house, chats with her mother (the father was 10 times out of 10 too drunk to keep his eye open, let alone articulate coherent words) I realised I cannot do anything without enlisting the help of others. I turned to local authorities, the Mayor’s office, the police. All this effort turned out to be in vain as the Ancuta’s mother, bothered by my intrusion in her family life, threatened me, her daughter’s teacher, a person who, for all intents and purposes, was only trying to help.
The year passed and Ancuta managed, with my and fellow teachers’ help, to advance into the 10th grade. Life will not get better for her, though. Her mother would beat her regularly in an attempt to convince her to marry this individual she, the mother, had chosen for the girl, a boy poisoned by alcohol and prone to violence.
Not having any other choice, and probably wishing her torment to end, Ancuta married this boy. Soon after she became a faithful client to doctors and hospitals for bruises, cuts, broken teeth, to give only a few examples. Then she became pregnant.
As her head teacher, I felt responsible for her safety, within and outside the school environment, that is why I tried to help her by going to the authorities, reporting her plight when she was too afraid to speak for herself. Soon, however, I received threatening visits by dubious individuals sent by the mother, with a simple message : “Leave Ancuta alone. It is none of your business.”
They locked Ancuta in the house in order to prevent her from going to school. After all, as a married woman, and pregnant on top of that, her priorities had changed in the eyes of the family. School was no longer something important, if it ever had been. I saw her occasionally in the street or at the market, bruised, weakened, barely walking. I realized how serious her situation was only when I hear news of her deformed baby, as a result of repeated, brutal, beatings. On top of that, Ancuta had to be admitted to the psych ward for a while to recover from the trauma.
One last attempt at counselling her resulted in a separation from the first husband and her family. Today, she is happily married with the man of her choice, beautiful children, (though her first still struggles with a walking handicap), and wants to finish high school and, maybe, one day have a stabile job.
As Ancuta’sr head teacher, I was involved in all the actions taken in order to help a bright young girl. Other actors in this sad story were the Romanesti Mayor and a social worker from Child Protection who helped financially, morally and psychologically. The local police also had a role, with officer Stefanescu visiting Ancuta’s house over 30 times, making sure she is safe and sound.
My overall conclusions are:
Parents have a moral and social duty to ensure their children’s safety, happiness and education, especially in a child’s formative years. In our case, the parents were primarily the cause of Ancuta’s problems, beating her, forcing her to marry a violent man, just to get rid of the burden she had become on their limited budget, much better spent in the local pubs than in rearing up a child.
As her head teacher, I had a very difficult task, my safety and even life being often endangered by Ancuta’s abusive husband, in the street or even at my house.
I am happy today, knowing that I did everything in my power, and sometimes more, and that Ancuta is happy now. We meet sometimes, by chance, and she thanks me for being there for her, for saving her from the dark nightmare in which she used to live.

20 December 2014

Final Partners’ meeting

The fourth partners’ meeting took place in Florence (IT) on 15 December 2014. The meeting had the objective to check the activities carried out since the third meeting of the project and share and assess the in progress results. A special focus has been dedicated to the presentation of the strategies to solve the case scenarios.