Situated in the south-east of the country on the banks of the River Dambovita, Bucharest is Romania's capital city. While the population fell between 2002 and 2011, it is nevertheless home to over 1.8 million people, making it the sixth-largest city in the EU.
Bucharest's beautiful architecture gave rise to the moniker “Little Paris” during the inter-war years, but many of the city's most historic buildings were demolished under the premiership of Nicolae Ceaușescu.
Minorities face significant setbacks
Bucharest is Romania's economic and industrial heart, and generates around 20% of the nation's GDP. Joblessness too is half that of Romania as a whole. Nevertheless, many people in Bucharest are seriously disadvantaged and in need of support.
Roma people face particular hardship despite significant work to elevate their status in society. Measures such as guaranteed parliamentary representation and various forms of positive discrimination aim to encourage their advancement in society. Nevertheless, children from a Roma background do not enjoy the same benefits as other ethnic groups. Much of our work across the country focuses on improving the life chances of these children to ensure as many as possible enjoy a decent future.
What is SOS Children's Villages doing to help?
Lack of investment in key services such as health and education makes our work in Bucharest vital to ensure children get the support they need at this crucial stage in life. Since 1998, we have worked alongside local people to provide these services.
We also run a play bus which travels around the city, stopping at key locations such as parks and hospitals, orphanages and tower blocks to provide opportunities for learning and play to disadvantaged children. Activities range from games, craft, dancing and drama. Not only does this give children the chance to mix with others, it can also be highly therapeutic, helping young people develop their confidence and explore new ideas.
Lifelong support for the most vulnerable children
At our Children's Village, we provide children who have lost parental care with a new home. Throughout their childhood, we support them as they learn and grow. They begin their education at our nursery, where they learn alongside children from the community. Our youth programme helps them through the exciting but challenging transition to adult life, providing pastoral support and guidance as they complete skills training or higher education and take the final steps into independence.
Many children in Bucharest face a difficult and challenging childhood. But with the right opportunities, they can thrive and succeed. We are there to give them the chances they need.