A hugely popular initiative inspired and empowered by Raiffeisen Bank

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Every visit we received was wonderful for the kids because it rarely happens for somebody else to spend time with them. It made them feel they were important – and then their parents were so proud and happy too. It was like a confirmation – that they are on the right track by bringing the children to grădiniță. For me, as a teacher, every handshake from the visitors meant hope. Thank you!“ Izabella Orban, Apața School, Brașov County

This autumn, 30 cultural and media personalities and 54 Raiffeisen employees accepted OvidiuRo’s invitation to be a “Kindergarten Teacher for a Day”. Every school day in October these volunteers were brought from Bucharest to one of the FCG programs sponsored by Raiffeisen in Brașov and Covasna.

Designed to give the children a chance to interact with other adults from the outside world – it turned out to be an eye-opener for both the children and the volunteers. Greeted with curiosity and enthusiasm, the substitute teachers quickly became heroes to the children as they read them stories, taught them how to draw animals, introduced them to classical music, turned them into TV stars and characters in a story conceived on the spot, and many other creative activities devised by the volunteers themselves.

At the same time, the visitors from Bucharest gained new understanding of daily life among the rural poor. They also provided an important affirmation to the teachers who, day in and day out, receive very little appreciation for their hard work and influential role in the lives of Romania’s most vulnerable children.

After spending the day with the children I realized that most of our stereotypes are built on the presumption that we all get the same start in life. Access to water and electricity is taken for granted nowadays, but not in Apața. Răzvan Exarhu, journalist

I honestly wonder who benefited more from our encounter: the children or I?” Dan Rădulescu, actor

I was truly touched by what I’ve seen today. I don’t know what impressed me more: the children, the teachers or the poverty they live in.Nicoleta Lungu, Raiffeisen volunteer

I became teacher for a day, and got a lesson for life! The teachers, the team at OvidiuRo, and the mums–they all won our respect. Even through the simple act of walking, not driving, up through the community, we were paying our respect to the mums who are making it happen, and encouraging all those who could be involved but aren’t yet. It was like an energy charge for everyone!” Peter Hurley

In January, the volunteers will gather to share their experiences and discuss the implications for possible future actions.