Founder’s Message


Dear fellow believers in the power of education to transform lives,

Oh, what a year it’s been—our best laid plans turned topsy-turvy by a world-wide pandemic that no one saw coming. Last spring, when we transformed the Alex Fund’s Acasa fundraiser into an online Zoom event, we assumed this would just be a quirky one-time occurrence, not a portent of the future of fundraising! Fortunately, thanks to those of you who tuned in to see the the Acasa documentary followed by Ethan and director Radu Ciorniciuc’s discussion, we were able to dedicate all of the proceeds to delivering essential packages of basic food and cleaning supplies along with children’s books to 215 needy families (identified by teachers in our network).

I (Leslie) had long planned to withdraw from the day-to-day operations of OvidiuRo in 2020. The way that actually came about, right on schedule, was almost providential. In February, on the last day of my 3-week trip to Romania (the first of several I expected to make in 2020), Maria Gheorghiu and I met Patricia Puschila – and knew immediately she was just the person needed to take over OvidiuRo’s communication and fundraising efforts. Patricia joined the OvR team in the spring, and without missing a beat, she and Maria quickly adapted OvR’s 2020 activities to the new reality.

Unfortunately, the pandemic made it harder than ever for Romania’s disadvantaged children to continue their education. Without internet, they could not join in online classes, and without books or other learning materials at home, or parents with more than a rudimentary formal education, they were in danger of falling farther and farther behind their better fortified peers. But fortunately, the nation-wide network of teachers that Maria had initiated two years ago became a vital channel for keeping teachers connected to each other and to their fundamental mission – preparing at-risk preschoolers for success in primary school.  Maria immediately transitioned to online teacher training, thereby helping teachers to keep the most vulnerable kids connected to educational life despite the school closures.

We are proud to report that this year the Alex Fund helped make it possible for:

  •         800 families to receive COVID crisis assistance
  •       1200 children to participate in socially-distanced summer programs
  •       2000 teachers to attend early literacy training
  •       5000 children to be read to by 600 volunteers (teachers, librarians and priests)
  •    25,000 picture books delivered to children in their homes.

We are even more proud to announce The Alex Fund and OvidiuRo’s joint 5-year plan to transform every public kindergarten in Romania into a combination preschool AND children’s library,  the local “Gradibiblioteca”! There are 4000 public kindergartens currently operating in Romania; we have committed to turning 800 of them each year into a vibrant community resource equipped with teachers well-versed in literacy development and the physical structure well-equipped with books and broadband online access. With support from Romania-based companies, the Ministry of Education – and donors like you – we can effect a radical transformation of early education throughout Romania. We hope you will join us by contributing as you are able.

Leslie Hawke & Wendy Phillips Kahn