Many programs and public policies look great on paper, but at grassroots level they limp. Sometimes, they limp badly. And in Romania, there are very few organizations that have the interest, the time and the resources to monitor rigorously what really happens, and to take this knowledge further, in order to improve these programs and policies. Reality Check’s mission is to improve public policies through applied monitoring, on the ground.
We have seen many good projects, but also many absurd ones, where public money – a lot of it – was thrown out of the window. We know that, many times, the system ends up working to sustain itself, and forgets about the citizens for whose benefit it was created.
At the same time, we know that things can improve significantly. The individual results of each member of our team show it – in the NGO, academic or business sectors where we worked, but also in our work in the public administration during the Ciolos Government, which showed that the system could indeed be changed through professionalism, determination and good-faith.
In Romania there is a huge distance between worlds – a distance we feel deeply every time we come back to our homes, after a visit in a poor community. And we know we cannot progress, as a country, unless these worlds will come closer and truly understand each other.
We have seen extreme poverty over and over again, we have been in many houses where children were sleeping on the floor, hungry. We know that many poor, uneducated people are afraid to claim their rights – and that some do not even know them.
It is one thing to understand conceptually a reality described by someone in words or even in pictures, and a totally different thing to see it with your own eyes, to talk to people who are not from your world, to understand first hand how it is like “out there”.
Many laws would be designed smarter if the public employees from ministries understood better what really happens on the ground, and they would be applied more correctly if the public employees from counties, cities and villages understood better the spirit of these laws.
Many people from these different worlds would cooperate better and help more if we understood each other’s life stories, which where the preconditions and opportunities that made each of us who we are, what are our hardships and aspirations, and what fosters or hinders our progress.
We know that there are many people who want to help and who are able to mobilize others to do it, too. But they might not always have enough information to find exactly those communities that need help the most. Reality Check is a connection point between these people and the poorest communities in Romania.
We know directly about 100 villages and small towns where help is truly needed, and where we can pinpoint the people from the local teams who can carry on good projects, using the money fairly and with impact. Where this is necessary, we can support these communities to implement such projects and report their results. We can also identify easily other disadvantaged communities, evaluate their needs, and mobilize public authorities and institutions to run projects that are good for their communities.
Reality Check was set up by a group of people with diverse experiences in non-profits, business, research, and public administration, who have a deep understanding of Romanian realities and have worked together in different contexts to reduce poverty and increase public administration’s effectiveness.
is a sociologist with over 15 years of experience in market and social research. Fields of expertise include quantitative and qualitative research. Also, she has experience in public policies and communication campaigns. Oana works with large Romanian NGOs, such as Active Watch, the Romanian Center for European Policies, the Romanian Center for Equality, the Center for Independent Journalism and Hope and Home for Children – Romania. She was involved in various evaluation projects such as The Evaluation of the Communication Plan for the Sectoral Programme Increase of Economic Competitiveness and the first Audit Report on social services in Romania. Also, she has expanded her expertise in social services and rural area in Republic of Moldova.
runs projects in poor communities since 2001. She started working with the Community Support Foundation, where she set up a home-improvement program in the poor neighborhoods of Bacau and Buhusi. Since 2004, she has been working with OvidiuRo Association, where she was involved in community projects in Bucharest sector 5, and in implementing the Every Child in Kindergarten program in 45 poor communities from 11 counties. In 2012, Nadia “adopted” Ponorata, a severely impoverished village in Maramures, for which she raises funds and manages various development projects, on a volunteer basis. In 2016, she was the advisor of the State Counselor for Social Inclusion, at the Prime-Minister’s Chancellery – where she helped implement the Integrated Anti-poverty Package, launched by Ciolos Government.
started her career as communication person in 2003, with GlaxoSmithKline Romania. In 2005 she joined OvidiuRo for the next ten years, helping build one of the most important NGOs in Romania. Starting with 2010, she coordinated OvidiuRo’s communication and fundraising team. For seven years, Simona was the head organizer of the Halloween Charity Ball, one of Romania’s biggest fundraising events. Over time, she also got involved in working directly with children and families. Since 2015, Simona lives in Germany with her husband and two children.
has been working in advertising for 14 years, especially in strategy and online performance projects. She has been volunteering since 2003 for children in care centers (Domnesti and Sf Petru si Pavel), Ovidiu Ro, Our Big Day Out and for Reality Check. She builds blogs and Facebook pages for humanitarian causes. Carmen is a Reality Check member and helps with communication and fundraising, she works directly with children from Castelu (goes with the children to the hospital, helps them joining the kindergarten, educational activities, etc.) Carmen is the mother of two little girls and she’s passionate about interior design.
has been working for over 15 years in the Romanian NGO sector. She started in 2000, raising funds for street children, poor families and elderly, at St. Stelian Association. Between 2004 and 2015 she was director of development at OvidiuRo, and in 2015 she joined briefly Habitat for Humanity Romania, to coordinate a home-improvement project in poor communities. In 2016, Alina was co-author of the Integrated Anti-poverty Package, while working at the Prime-Minister’s Chancellery. She also worked for nine months at the Ministry of European Funds, first as advisor for the minister, and then as State Secretary in charge with the Human Capital Operational Program and the Operational Program for Disadvantaged Persons. Alina has an Executive Master in Public Administration from the Hertie Hertie School of Governance, Berlin. Her experience includes project design and management, intersectorial collaboration, lobby and advocacy, as well as on-the-ground monitoring and evaluation of education, health and housing projects in over 60 poor communities in Romania.
is a social scientist and civic activist with more than 5 years of experience in the design and implementation of evaluations for national and international civil society organisations as well as quantitative and qualitative research projects in academia. Fields of expertise include experimental evaluation designs, surveys, qualitative research methods, youth work, civic activism, and democratization. In his capacity as an evaluator, he has been working in Germany, Eastern Europe, and Sub-Saharan Africa for UN Women, the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, Oxfam International, the UK Department for International Development, Bread for the World, the German Federal Agency for Civic Education, and the German Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. In Romania, he conducted an impact evaluation of OvidiuRo’s national education program Every Child in Kindergarten. In Moldova, he has developed an evaluation framework for a youth social entrepreneurship program by EcoVisio. Wolfgang holds a Master in Eastern European Studies from the Freie Universität Berlin, and a Master in Management of Political Organisations from Babeş-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca. He is currently finishing his PhD on the role of societal mobilizations in democratization processes in Sub-Saharan Africa at the Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences. He speaks English, German, and Romanian fluently.