Building confidence and self-esteem in Romanian girls

The two friends Bianca and Loreana are building a network to help make young girls more conscious of their own worth. The two nineteen-year-olds have first-hand knowledge about how hard it is to grow up in a poor village in Romania.

BY MAGNE REIGSTAD/TEXT/PHOTO
Romanian girls can marry - or be married off – from when they’re 16 years of age, and in some instances when a girl is even younger than that. When a marriage is established, that usually implies that this will be the end of the girl’s traditional schooling. When a girl is married in Romania there is a new set of duties that need to be maintained, as well as a set of family traditions and demands that come from their new position within the village. Statistics show that 50 percent of girls drop out of school as a direct result of early marriage. 

Bianca Baloi knows a lot about the heavy pressure put on young girls from the boys of the village, and the ensuing results these encounters can have. “We use roleplay in our classes, and we explain to the girls how they can be both friendly and firm, and still be liked and respected in the village”, Bianca explains.

Bianca has started language studies at University. Her goal is to become a translator; she says in eloquent English. Her friend Loreana Tuca has a job working in a pizza bakery in Craiova that she got after she finished school. Loreana has become a self-sufficient and economically independent young woman who loves her work, and is a role model for both the younger generation and her peers in the village.Our staff in Craiova got Bianca Baloi to start a girl network.

The Adina staff (above) in Craiova encouraged the two girls to take part of a basic course in Bucuresti. Bianca and Loreana have both been a part of the Adina program since they attended our After School Program in Goiesti, and they both come from hard working but financially poor families. Their families believe that proper schooling is crucial to escape poverty they are now living in.

So far 21 girls have taken part in the Adina-classes. We have had some struggles in getting girls to attend the classes. Sometimes it is because of situations within the family, other times it is because the young girls feel so impoverished that they are ashamed, and don’t want strangers to know their situation.

Loreana and Bianca are also in contact with the participant’s families to explain to them why it is so important that girls don’t get married before they finish school. 

- If the marriage fails, or the husband runs off, then the girl and her family are left with children to care for, and no school papers, little social help, and no employment opportunities. In a situation like that it’s easy for a girl to become a victim of bad solutions. If you have finished your education however, it will be possible to get a job” Bianca says, who works as a volunteer for the Adina Foundation in her spare time, like her mother.

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