Sunrise Schools, Bucharest Romania

Sunrise Schools, Bucharest Romania

By Didi Ananda Devapriya

There are two Sunrise Playschools in Bucharest Romania in Bucharest Noi and Mihai Bravu. The Bucharesti Noi kindergarten began in 1991 to serve the needs of children in a poor neighborhood in the northern area of Bucharest. In 1992, with the support received from the Infant Massage Association (Sweden) and other sponsors, a house was purchased, renovated and equipped for the second kindergarten in Mihai Bravu. It was the first school in Bucharest to implement a program of integration and individual therapy for disabled children and today there are only three kindergartens like this in the Bucharest region. The program is based on Neohumanist education and the children with disabilities participate fully in the daily routine and receive individual therapy and massage from a kineto-therapist.
Autumn Bazaar
In the autumn in Romania every year, all of the homes are busy preparing for winter. Romania is still a country that does not import much food, and thus relies mostly on local agriculture. In the winter, vegetables become very expensive, and so traditionally, families prepare for the winter by canning fruits and vegetables and making “muraturi” which are pickled vegetables (especially cucumbers), making jams, and making a type of sauerkraut called varza from
cabbage. This is especially true in the villages, but also in Bucharest the piatsa is full of people stocking up on cucumbers, parsnips and carrots for their muraturi, and buying cartons of plums and apples for jams.
In the Fall, in our two neohumanist kindergartens in Bucharest our cooks also prepare muraturi, varza and jam. And even the children are involved preparing for our annual Autumn Bazaar! We have two kindergartens, both called Sunrise Playschool, and to differentiate them we call them by their neighbourhood names – Bucharesti Noi and Mihai Bravu. In the Mihai Bravu kindergarten, every year we celebrate autumn with a special event called the Autumn Bazaar, which also serves as a fundraiser for the school.
This past Fall the children spent weeks preparing. They made muraturi, cutting colourful vegetables into different shapes, like stars and circles, and pickling them in salted water. They also made many kinds of crafts; paintings on canvas, painted ceramic plates, painted bear statues, and lanterns made with thin translucent colored paper. The whole school also participated in making a big paper mache bee, that would become the grand prize of the “Tombolo”, Romanian for a raffle. We also designed T-shirts with photos of the children and printed them on shirts that the parents brought in, and produced a CD of songs from the Italian class that the children have been doing. Games were introduced during the practical life section of the curriculum pretending to play market. Also math games with counting and dividing things were done.In the last days before the Bazaar, the children were busy helping bake sweets and goodies for the big day. The Dolphins were making butter cookies with cookie cutters, the Zebras made spinach triangles with thin phyllo dough, and the Bearcubs made corn muffins and lemon cake. More cakes were made by teachers and Didi, and parents were asked to bring in fruits, vegetables and flowers, as well as a toy for the raffle.On the day of the Bazaar, the school was buzzing with excitement. The teachers and children dressed up in traditional Romanian costumes. During naptime, the teachers and volunteers had transformed the courtyard into a marvellous open air market! Swings and slides were draped with cloth (to prevent our shopkeepers from the temptation to run off and play on them) and then decorated with the paintings and photos of the children preparing for the Bazaar. Tables were brought outside and different stands were arranged. There was the fruit and vegetable market, headed by Diana, the flower shop and muraturi shop with Mery. There was an arts and crafts gallery, with an exposition of paintings, the ceramic plates and painted bears. There was the T-shirt and CD shop, under Diana’s supervision and finally the giant bumble bee on display next to handmade raffle tickets. Inside each ticket was a number that matched a number that had been placed on the toys brought in from home. When a ticket was bought, then the same number was placed in a hat for the raffle of the bumblebee at the end. And for the pastry shop, Madhavii had artfully laid out a table with delicacies – the spinach triangles, packages of cookies artistically wrapped in cellophane and ribbons, and many luscious cakes.

At last, the Bazaar was officially announced to be open for shopping, as some traditional music filled the air, and parents came to shop and join in the games! Children called out “Come and buy my pickles!! Come and buy my beautiful flowers!!” and dutiful parents and grandparents were soon laden down with items, particularly from the stand where their child was posted.
One of the most popular places turned out to be the Tombolo raffle. Cristina, one of the teachers from our Bucharesti Noi school ran that area, and was always surrounded by a crowd of children, eagerly searching through the basket of toys for the one matching their number.The festivities ended when Marilena, our gymnastics teacher gathered all of the children in a circle to perform a traditional dance for the parents, which was a very charming finishing touch.It was a wonderful experience for the children to be in the role of grownup shopkeepers, and to have the parents involved and participating with enthusiasm in this elaborate game. Children always feel proud when their parents can see and appreciate something that they have done, and it is very empowering for them when they can act out important real world roles. The parent participation is what really makes the event memorable for the children, and they continue to talk about it for weeks in the school.It was also a very successful fundraiser this year, thanks to the generosity of the parents, raising about 450 euro for the school, which is a very considerable amount in Romania. This amount was used towards the repair of the van used to transport our children with disabilities and take the children on field trips, as well as towards didactic materials and outdoor toys. 
Bucharest School Plays
Both schools spent December preparing for a special performance for the parents. In Mihai Bravu the smallest bearcubs performed songs and poems, while the littlest ones tended to wander off stage a bit…The Zebras had beautiful costumes for “The Snow Queen”. They got a bit tongue-tied by the excitement (loud whispers to the rescue!), but it was warmly appreciated by the audience. The Dolphins performed a Romanian folktale called “Veronica”, with songs and lines and eleborate props and all! In Bucharesti Noi, they also performed
“The Snow Queen” and many traditional Romanian Christmas carols – including one with a wooden puppet of a goat whose mouth opens and claps shut to a rhythm in the song. At the end of the performances in both schools, Santa came and distributed a special present to each child.