Community center in Castelu

Children in Castelu, not attending kindergarden or school      © Alina Seghedi

Castelu visit through the eyes of Sinziana Ionescu

Castelu is a village in Constanta county, inhabited by a large and very poor Roma-Turkish population called horahai. They do not officially belong to either Roma or Turkish community, and therefore they receive no support from any of those communities. The majority of the parents are poor and uneducated, and are not able to read or write. They are intimidated by school and need help to enroll their children. Usually, when adults go begging or collecting scrap, they take their children with them. When they don’t, the older siblings take care of the kids, instead of attending school.

Children’s nutrition and hygiene are precarious, housing hygiene is precarious, general access to medical services is precarious. All the houses are overpopulated and most of them are in a very poor condition.

The village has 5000 inhabitants, out of which 1150 below poverty line(650 children). 200 families rely on social aid. There are three compact areas (Balta, Garoafelor, Ferma) where the majority of poor people are settled.

The children’s native language is Turkish – they don’t know any Romanian when they start kindergarten or school.

In 2018, Reality Check is supporting the City Hall transform a building into a community center. The building was recently bought by the City Hall for this purpose.

Currently, we are raising funds to renovate the building so that it will house a public bath, a laundry, a medical clinic, an educational room and a space for temporary sheltering people in critical situations.

Starting with March 2018, we’ll support the local team (social workers, community nurse, school mediator) to note down poor families’ needs, draw intervention plans and mobilize volunteers to organize community projects. The community center will host various local activities.

We aim to mobilize the entire community in helping raise access of disadvantaged people to education, health and other basic services. The children and their parents will be the direct beneficiaries of the project. They will participate to educational activities, counseling sessions on various topics, clubs, meetings with other community members etc.

The local team members will also benefit from this project: they will be able to work together in the new community center and they will be more efficient in helping poor families.

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