Thursday, November 20, at the Bucharest Student House of Culture took place the first edition of the My Story conference, organized by the Drawing Your Own Future Association and supported by the Romanian Commercial Bank – BCR.
The event marked 55 years since the adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and 25 since the approval of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and is dedicated to all of those who went, at some point in their lives, through the experience of institutionalization, in any one of Romanian s orphanages, but open however to anyone showing an interest in the subject matter.
Present at the event were a total of about 300 people, including representatives of the media, representatives of public institutions, civil society, children and youth from foster care and group homes in Bucharest, community members, volunteers of the organization working with children in foster care, and social science faculty students who wanted to deepen their knowledge on the phenomenon in Romania.
By organizing this conference we wanted to raise the self-esteem and self-confidence of institutionalized children and young people who attended the event, in a community empowerment effort directed at those who shared at some point in their lives, the experience of the orphanage, by encouraging them to ask they themselves their own right to respect, and in doing so raising awareness among the community towards specific challenges facing this most vulnerable group.
Where are we now and how things have changed from a quarter of a century ago? What do we see when we look towards the future? These are questions that the three speakers have addressed. They ve been through a Spartan system and they survived it. Together, the three presentations were able to build a dynamic overview on the experience of the orphanage, as they saw it, from within, through the eyes of those who lived in Romania s orphanages of the late 80s, 90s and 2000.
Dan Iordan graduated from the military academy and is currently an officer in the Ministry of Defence. Dan chose to directly address both those who are or have been part of the system as well as those outside the child protection system separately: to the latter he was keen to stress that getting into an orphanage is not, in most cases, a choice, and therefore it is unfair to pass judgment on someone based strictly on this; he then turned to children and young people from orphanages present and spoke about his career and how he managed to do after leaving the orphanage.
Daniel Rucăreanu is an expert in educational policy, and is currently working with the General Secretariat of the Government. Daniel emphasized how important it is that those who share the experience of the orphanage to have the courage to tell their own stories and to ask themselves their own rightful right to respect. He also provided examples from other countries, such as Norway, on the organization and growth of such movements.
Ionut Nicolae is a PhD candidate at the Graduate School of Literary and Cultural Studies and he Works for the Office of External Relations of the Department of International Relations at the University of Bucharest. Ionut went down in public, having an interactive presentation, engaging in a dialogue with the audience. He chose to tell the sroties of a few turning points in his life, hoping that this will inspire and motivate those present.
The idea of such a conference started from the president of Drawing Your Own Future Association, Vişinel Balan, Who was himself raised in a children’s home. Thus his life experience gives the association a unique perspective on the matter. As coordinator of this event, Vişinel Balan held a speech in the end, always emphasizing the importance of education. Distinctions were then offered to the financial sponsor of the event – BCR, the three speakers, the moderator Ionut Oprea and to our loyal partner perso.ro.
Often, children and young people in the room chose to engage into a dialogue with the speakers, being ableto relate with many of the experiences of previous generations. To ensure the security of the participants and to encourage freedom of expression, in the participation kit that was waiting for them on the chairs, were provided, among others, special forms through which to address questions as an anonymously, which were then collected by DVT volunteers.
We aimed to create a framework for equitable social dialogue. The speakers covered topics ranging from shame, social stigma and prejudice in everyday life in an orphanage, the difficulties in the school environment, relationship with colleagues, and future prospects, post-institutionalization, putting emphasis always on education. Moreover, other subjects that were brought into question were the inequality of opportunity, economic gap between young people from traditional families / nuclear and institutionalized youth, about the uncertainties facing skills and about developing the necessary coping skills.
DVT has first-hand expertise when it comes to the challenges young people face when they are forced to leave the child protection system, often without a place to live, a job, or any idea about how they can make a living. Our portfolio includes a range of programs for children / youth in institutions of social care and group homes, run in partnership with the Directorates General of Social Assistance and Child Protection in Bucharest and other NGOs, which were aimed at fostering independent life skills and increasing self-esteem.
We kindly thank our main sponsor BCR and other partners who have made this conference possible Perso.ro, Bucharest Student House of Culture , Home of Strings, Bucharest University Students’ Society – SSUB, Ioana Gligot-Békési, X-treme Radio, DGASPC Sector 1, DGASPC Sector 3, DGASPC Sector 4, DGASPC Sector 5 and DGASPC Sector 6, AMOS NEWS, 121.ro – Community of sensational women, Youth in Action Mechanical Engineering and Mechatronics Bucharest.