Hemeiusi and Bacau are small towns in the Moldavian region of north-east Romania, about 300 km to the north of Bucharest.
This area has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country and a high number of families living in poverty.
As a result, many young people and adults are moving abroad for work, and children are often left with older relatives.
Since 2007, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Hemeiusi.
At least 12% of children are absent from primary and lower secondary school. In total, 135,000 children and 95,000 adolescents miss out of crucial education.
Unofficial extra payments requested from families increase the financial burden on households and increase the educational gap that further disadvantages vulnerable children.
A poor educational background worsens prospects for employment, restricts social and emotional development, and increases their risk to exploitation and abuse.
Access to healthcare is a challenge in Romania. While the health system faces budget cuts and corruption, as well as medicine and staff shortages, poverty and a lack of infrastructure further restrict access for the most vulnerable.
As a result, 23% of parents are unable to purchase medicines, and 15% do not have access to medical services, for their children.
A child’s health is crucial for their physical and mental growth and development, affecting the quality of their life now and into adulthood.