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Getting back on track

In Romania, the school dropout rate is as high as 19%. It’s mostly vulnerable children from families with low social and economic status who drops out. Marius could have been one of them, being the youngest of five siblings with both parents too sick to work. However, through a project with Save the Children and the H&M Foundation, Marius and his family were supported and he’s now back in school with his grades getting better and better.

The school dropout rate in Romania is high compared to other countries. Romanian authorities have committed to reduce it from 19.1% to 11.3% by 2020. Our three-year long project with Save the Children, aims to help lower these numbers.

Marius is a brown-haired, hazel-eyed boy with lots of energy. He lives with his parents and siblings in one of the many poor furnished, cheap two-bedroom apartments. Both his parents used to work long hours, but despite this, it was difficult to make ends meet and ensure a decent standard of living.

Family on the brink of collapsing

Two years ago, Marius mother was diagnosed with cancer. At the same time, his father was suffering from an ulcer and lung problems. Marius’ father periodically stopped receiving treatment because they could not afford it. He was often sick, but continued to work to provide for his family. Sadly, it still wasn’t enough. It didn’t take long for the situation to deteriorate to the point they could not afford the bare necessities: clothing, footwear, school supplies, daily nourishment or school lunch.

Marius started to skip classes and, although he was a capable child, his grades began to slip. He often took on the role of “class clown”, attracting negative attention, sometimes being violent or using foul language. Two of his older brothers were skipping school, displaying violence and using drugs, creating a clear risk for Marius.

Save the Children identified the family’s problem and realised they needed support to survive. During this difficult time, the family received material support such as clothing, footwear, food, medicine and hygiene products. They also received counselling and referrals for medical treatment or support groups, for example cancer support groups. Marius receives help with his homework, daily meals, school supplies and psychological group counselling.

“I truly want all my children to go to school regularly and learn. I hope I will overcome all these hardships and raise my children.”

— Marinela Tomacsek, mother of Marius

Thanks to the active involvement of his parents, as well as the support of teachers and the Educational Center, Marius’ behaviour has improved considerably – he is seldom absent from school and is getting good grades again.

“I truly want all my children to go to school regularly and learn. I hope I will overcome all these hardships and raise my children”, says Marinela Tomacsek, Marius’ mother.

Marius’ biggest wish is for his mother to get well. He wants to be a professional football player when he grows up. “I really like football, I like running, I like to win” says Marius and smiles.