Since the fall of 2020, 20 children from Mihăileni and Vârfu Câmpului villages and the town of Bucecea in Botoșani county have been enrolled in the Future Acceleration Program, which provides each of them with weekly online tutoring in Romanian language, math and English, held by teachers from Bucharest, as well as with a monthly scholarship and other materials such as clothing, school supplies and food products for the entire family. Other 22 children from Vârfu Câmpului and Mihăileni, who share a passion for music, are attending a weekly class with the George Enescu Academy for music and education for children, held online or in the memorial house of the composer’s mother in Mihăileni village, recently restored by the Pro Patrimonio Foundation, the strategic partner for our organization in Botoșani. With many parents going abroad to work, the children from these communities were left behind under the care of their grandparents or aunts or even their older brothers. This lead to an even greater need for care and patience, to make sure these children continue to be interested in school, to make plans to go to college or to dream about their future jobs.
M. is 12 years old and lives in Mihăileni village with her older sister and their single mother. Last year, when she entered the Future Acceleration Program, M. transitioned from primary to...
Mrs. Simonica Fercalo is the Principal of the “Ioan Păun Pincio” School în Mihăileni village, which educates 240 children in kindergarten and primary, and secondary school cycles. She has...
Mr. Şerban Sturdza, architect and executive director of the Pro Patrimonio Foundation for 20 years, is looking for solutions for the preservation of Romanian heritage. "For us, UiPath Foundation...
M. is 12 years old and lives in Mihăileni village with her older sister and their single mother. Last year, when she entered the Future Acceleration Program, M. transitioned from primary to secondary school. If, at the beginning of the year, she would only hide in the classroom because she did not know her teachers, these days she stands in front of the class with no hesitation, even during math classes, a school subject she struggled with in the past. “I am a better student than I was in the 4th grade, and I want to keep improving”. The tutoring she takes in Romanian language, maths, and English help her be more daring during school classes. “Ever since I started the tutoring, I don’t allow my colleagues to answer before me”, she replies laughing.
She is also more confident when it comes to school; she knows that if she cannot understand something during class, she can always ask the teacher during the tutoring. She is constantly sketching and sometimes seeks inspiration online, where she finds stencils to fill in with color. When asked what she would like to become when she gets older, she envisions becoming a doctor. Several years ago, she spent some time in a hospital due to a genetic condition and she remembers that the doctors were very helpful. And that is why she intends to give back the help she received to those who need it.
Her mother, E., is 47 years old and works in shifts in a wood factory commuting every day. She has six children, but only M. and her older sister are still at home with her. The others are either working abroad or taking care of their own families and small children.
E. says that the scholarship and the tutoring helped her daughter deal with this change better. She has always seen her as a sensitive child and shyer than her other brothers. “She used to be solitary, cast aside and wouldn’t even raise her hand in school, despite knowing the answer. Often she used to come home crying because even if she knew the right answer, she wouldn’t raise her hand to answer”. “You should raise your hand, nothing bad will happen!” was her mom’s encouragement.
E. knows her daughters need her, and she works hard to take care of them and keep her job. She has no intention of going abroad again to work, as she did in the past, when they needed money, a path taken by many parents in the area. “The scholarship came as a godsend for me, as a single mother”, said E. “I could have never afforded to pay for tutoring”. She immediately saw major changes with her daughter. She has a better understanding of what is explained to her and is eager to start the lessons. “She is quite excited, is more willing, more diligent. The teachers at school confirm that she is doing well and has a good chance to go to high school”. E. is very happy that her daughter has become braver at school as a result of the help she received last year. She is now bold enough to answer in class, to speak at home, to dream of high school and even college.
Also, from Mihăileni is D., a 13-year-old in the 6th grade; he likes cars and Mathematics. He comes from a large family; both him and his brothers (four brothers who are still in school) found it difficult at the beginning of the pandemic because they lacked the smartphones or tablets necessary to attend the online classes. The tablet he received from the Future Acceleration Program now allows him to do so, while the tutoring in English, Romanian and Mathematics have been very helpful, agree with both D. and his father. He now understands better in school, according to the father, and keeps up with the lessons better than he used to a few years ago. S., 41 years of age, has seven more children, of ages between 2 and 20 years, five of whom still live at home. The man works as a day laborer in construction, as well as in agriculture, for only two months a year, abroad. He wants to go this year as well, to gain enough money to build a bigger kitchen when he returns, “with tiles on the floor and a table in the middle”, with plenty of room for all to finally sit together. S. says that D. is rather an introvert who needs attention, and because of this pandemic, he spends even less time now playing outside. The teachers at school say that the boy clearly makes an effort, and the father can see it too: “The situation has improved for now, he has the tablet from the foundation, he is willing and is involved. Although he is away, he knows that Friday is the tutoring day”. S. hopes that the foundation’s program helps D. stay in school, as he recalls that he also lost touch with school when he was in secondary school, in the 6th grade. He regretfully admits that had he learned more in school, he would have chosen a better professional direction and worked better paid jobs.
S. is 12 and lives in Mihăileni village. For him, a perfect day is when he is out playing with the animals in the backyard, feeding them, cleaning their quarters, or simply watching them be. S. enjoys football and plays in the backyard, where together with his brothers organized a special place. The boys enjoy learning, says their mother, and since S. has been in the program, she no longer has to worry about his homework, as he became more diligent and has better results in school. During the tutoring, he asks questions about what he didn’t understand in class and thus manages to keep up with the school lessons. S. is punctual, according to the program’s coordinators, he never misses a lesson and is very responsible.
C., S.’s mother, takes care of the house and the three boys. Her husband works in the wood factory nearby.
When S. was in primary school, his mother recalls that his teacher informed them that he wasn’t doing well in school. But something changed this year, and she believes that the tutoring helped. “He once came home with an A and I said ‘No way?’. I was shocked, he was not very fond of school, but he really loves these tutorings”.
The mother is pleased that her boy found a passion in grammar, and that he works by himself without her having to check. In fact, since he has been attending the tutoring, such situations have become rare. The mother feels relieved as she feared that she wouldn’t have been able to help him in secondary school. She wants him and his brothers to stay in school as much as possible and learn. “We struggled in life, and I wish they never miss food, clothes, anything at all “.
P., 12 years old, is a very endearing child, who, right after introducing herself, asks whether you like music. Because music is what gives her strength: whenever she feels sad, she goes in her room, plays a music CD, sings along and this cheers her up. That is why she wants to become a music teacher.
She lives with her grandmother.
E. has been raising P. since she was only a baby. They have been alone for seven years now. P. is a caring, sociable, and joyful child. Because she enjoys reading, one of P.’s favorite moments from last year were when the foundation gave her for Christmas the book Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, a set of tales about women activists, writers, doctors, politicians and researchers. She read it in three days and then told her grandmother all about the women who changed the world. The tutoring mainly help her with her English, where her grandmother cannot. “Her results in the Romanian and Mathematics have improved”, she said. “She always has her notebook at hand to take notes. This has been very helpful for both me and her. I always put something aside from her pension; who knows what will happen after me?”. E. wishes her granddaughter goes to high school.
Mrs. Simonica Fercalo is the Principal of the “Ioan Păun Pincio” School în Mihăileni village, which educates 240 children in kindergarten and primary, and secondary school cycles. She has been working in the educational system since 1994 and has been teaching English to secondary school students for ten years. She was born in a village nearby, having lived there eversince. She has been witnessing all the challenges the community is confronted with, students losing contact with school, and parents left with no expectation for a better future for their children. Some parents want their sons and daughters to go abroad for work, or to find a job in constructions, which leaves only few of them dreaming dreaming of going to high school or college, much to Mrs. Fercalo’s regret. She believes that the students enrolled in the Future Acceleration Program will have the courage to shape healthier future plans for themselves, as each child deserves.
The online school in 2020 was difficult for many families in Mihăileni, according to the principal, “particularly for those with many children, sharing only one heated room, with primary school children and a single mother having to look after all four”. Any help is welcomed, she believes, because “resources are rather scarce in the rural areas”. The scholarships and tutoring had a particular impact on the children’s evolution. “Mathematics and Romanian teachers have seen that children are communicating better. Before, they would simply refuse to communicate, but now they are better”.
Mrs. Carolina Enea is Principal of the Bucecea Technological High School, where she has been teaching history since 1998, when she started working in education. She grew up in Bacău and came to Bucecea for one-year. “The children in one class actually asked me ‘Why did you stay?’. Perhaps, I was meant to stay here to teach you”, she said smiling.
Bucecea is a small town and the high school Mrs. Enea runs, registers 766 students, in all learning cycles, including pre-school. There were times when the number of students exceeded 1,000, but many families went abroad lately, according to the Principal, because they found it difficult to get a job here and “so many children have to deal with family issues”. The students registered in the Future Acceleration Program are “children from single-parent families, orphans or children from large families”.
In time, some students lose contact with school, particularly in secondary school, when the transition from the primary cycle brings many changes, from the teaching method to the teachers. The support coming from programs like Future Acceleration, says Mrs. Enea, can really make a difference. “It covers this precise age range, in secondary school, when children feel lost. They should benefit from a follow-up of the school activities from people who may present a stronger authority and may have an immediate impact on them”.
Paula Gavriluță is a music teacher in the George Enescu Music and Education Academy for Children, which was launched in George Enescu’s mother’s house in Mihăileni village (famous Romanian composer). The building was restored over the past several years by Pro Patrimonio Foundation to become part of the community and not a museum. The idea of the project came when one of the master builders thought what it would be like if his children attended music classes so close to home. A brave thought in a village where, as in many other such areas across Romania located at a large distance from cities, children lack opportunities for extracurricular classes, theater or cinema. And so, as of the fall of 2020, 24 children from Mihăileni and Vârfu Câmpului villages have been learning about the history of music, music notions and how to play a German flute with Mrs Gavriluță.
Paula Gavriluță, 34 years old, has had a great passion for music or most of her life. Music has always been a part of her life with her grandfather, her father and uncle sang in marching bands. She learned to play the piano and the violin and in college, in the “Gheorghe Dima” Music Academy in Cluj, she studied Music Pedagogy. Both she and her sister are now music teachers and her 13-year-old daughter plays the clarinet.
With the weekly music class (which was moved several months ago from George Enescu’s house to online), Paula intends to encourage children to express themselves through music, to stir their curiosity and inquisitiveness. “With each class, I try to insert small curiosities, musical novelties, an audition, fragments of famous works that appear in TV advertisements . And when they experience this freedom of expression, they become more open. To express themselves, to be free, to articulate their opinions, this is what matters the most”.
Mr. Şerban Sturdza, architect and executive director of the Pro Patrimonio Foundation for 20 years, is looking for solutions for the preservation of Romanian heritage. "For us, UiPath Foundation was a drop of oxygen in time to complete an important project, Casa George Enescu, in Mihăileni village." When they had almost finished the restoration of the house and already had an educational program in mind, in the world of music, the architect Sturdza talked about the heritage house of Mihăileni and about the music. "On this occasion, an education project was born and was perfectly suited to what we wanted and that we are trying to expand."
The problem at Pro Patrimonio, where the team is made up mostly of architects, was that once the restoration was complete, they didn't know how to give public meaning to the house, for the community. Together we were able to find this. "We initiated a music education program together and brought the Future Acceleration Program into the community for about 20 students," says the architect, "and for us it was a lesson in the careful process of recruiting people, which eventually led to a good result." The proof, says Mr Sturdza, is the 500 hours invested in a year, which gives them the courage to do even better in the other projects they plan, "because a remarkable experience has been gained."
Adelina Ifrim, 23 years old, is the coordinator of the Future Acceleration Program in Botoșani. It was her who visited more often all the children, either to help the young ones with their online classes, or to share school supplies or food products, or simply to talk to the parents. Adelina comes from Bucecea and, after graduating psychology in Iași, she came back home. As a local, she found it easy to understand the families she was working with and to recognize the needs of the children, in particular the need for educational support. “I am looking out for them whenever they need it, either with their tablets, or in the family. I try to assess the situation, see how I can help, I am there for them when they fail to deal with what they are going through. If they cannot attend, we guide them to Google Classroom, where they can find their homework and presentations and I try to explain again, to the best of my knowledge, and encourage them to catch up on their own”.
The area of Botoșani and Dorohoi, where Enescu’s house from Mihăileni is located, has a great instrument and vocal music tradition, according to Adrian Hariga, project coordinator for Pro Patrimonio Foundation. Adrian says that his aim with this project, created with UiPath Foundation, was to develop the children’s “rhythmic structure, logic, discipline and critical thinking. I have noticed that being part of this project inspires them to express their emotions and joy, to create new friendships among the group”.
Adrian, 43 years old, is a sociologist who grew up in Vârfu Câmpului village. The restoration project and the partnership with UiPath Foundation brought him back home, closer to a persistent interest of his: education. Adrian is happy that after one year of project implementation, the outcome was an educational ecosystem which delivers on for every single child. Parents’ attention towards the children’s educational path has grown, they learned that they should ask the teacher about their children’s evolution or to notify them when they cannot get to school. “I have noticed a growing interest among them in other school subjects too, they became more active, they began to ask questions”, says Adrian. “These are the early signs of an increasing confidence in themselves”.
You have reached the end of our activity report for 2020.
With every story of courage discovered in the report – of the children in our educational programs, of our strategic partners, of mentors and volunteers and of our team, we have tried to convey our message about COURAGE - that was and will be a source of energy for the future! Thank you for going through the entire collection of stories about the programs and initiatives that try to generate a long term change. We, at the UiPath Foundation, will continue to be present in the lives of the children we support, to help them discover and make best use of their potential, and to ensure that every child or teacher has access to quality learning to be able to dream for a better future. We invite you and stay close to us and to the incredible stories about courage from our communities. To learn more about us and our initiatives, you can follow us here: