As reported in the last issue of Gurukula Network, after a very long and difficult process, the kindergartens at last obtained authorization from the Ministry of Education. The authorization represents an exciting turning point for Neohumanist Education in Romania and will allow us to gain more professional recognition for NHE and the ability to share our approach with other educators in the field. Both kindergartens will obtain authorization, but the smaller one still needs more investments and modifications in order to meet new health inspection requirements, and will get the authorization after the completion of those changes in the summer.
We have a new website with news and pictures from our recent events in the kindergartens: www.rasarit.amurtel.net
From the website, please come and see the video clips from our Diversity Day programs – it was an opportunity to overcome the stereotypes and prejudices already forming in children, by giving them positive experiences of Roma culture, through stories and discussion to awaken empathy, and through dialogue with Diipani. In Bucuresti Noi there was also a special program about Greece – the children dressed as mythological gods and goddesses and acted out the story of Prometheus. In Mihai Bravu, the multicultural program focused on Turkey – with stories about Aladdin performed for parents, making of baklava and dancing.
This year, during the Christmas season, we had heard from our project manager Cristina that many of the children at the Fountain of Hope after school program have never had their own toys, as their families cannot afford them. One day, when the children in the after-school center were decorating for Christmas, one little boy, attending the Fountain of Hope after school center told Cristina, the project director “You know, I don’t like Santa.” Surprised, Cristina asked “But why? All children like Santa!” and he replied “He never comes to visit my house…” She said “Well, maybe he is busy and he has to visit to some children that are very poor…” and he replied “Yes, but my family is also very poor, but still he never visits. That is why I don’t like Santa.”
So in the week before Christmas, a letter was sent out to the parents of the Gradinita Rasarit kindergartens in Bucharest, which received a warm and generous response – and 2 big duffle bags and 4 boxes of toys, food, and clothing were sent to Panatau to the Fountain of Hope After School Center just in time for the last day of school before the holidays. Cristina’s eyes brimmed with tears when she saw how many things had been collected. The next morning, she arranged a Christmas party for them after their last session of school before the vacation. Each child was delighted to receive a special bag full of gifts and food selected according to the needs of their family situation.
Then, on Christmas day, Santa Claus himself, a Santa straight from Finland with a real white beard (Dada Rasatmakananda), came to visit a few of the especially poor families in the village, walking up the unpaved roads to the houses made of mud and plaster. Santa was careful to go exactly to the house of the same little boy that had never had a visit from Santa before. He arrived with an umbrella as there was no snow for his sleigh and mesmerized the children with magic tricks and storytelling, creating a unique and unforgettable experience for these children.