Once again a school group from Sweden full of energy came to Marghita to see where the funds they raised are put to use and to get to know those who receive the help. Eleven high school students and four adults came in two minibuses and stayed for a week. This journey is made every second year with new students and this has been the concept for the last twenty years.
In 1996 the two high schools, Attarpsskolan in Bankeryd and Junedalsskolan in Jönköping, started to raise funds together and send to Romania. Two years later, one group from each of the schools travelled to Marghita in Romania and since then there have always been students at these schools who have seen and experienced the work of FCE. The involvement of Bankeryd began already in 1992. The students at Attarpsskolan held a ‘work-day’ and decided that the money they received from this would go to the newly started work FCE had in Marghita, Romania and the surrounding area. In the Autumn the same year, the initiator, Stefan Karlsson, who still works at Attarpsskolan, went to Marghita together with two students to see with their own eyes what was going on there.
The result of that visit was that the school arranged another work-day in 1993, to be able to send money for the renovation FCE had started on the orphanage/boarding school in Popesti. Once again Stefan travelled to Romania with new students and on his return he was invited to Junedalsskolan to show his pictures and talk about his trip. He enthused Christer Sjöberg, who became the ambassador at Junedalsskolan.
Since then Stefan and Christer have motivated, pushed and fought for this school involvement through ups and downs. The initiative was named ‘Elever hjälper Elever’ (Students help Students) and the work has become something admirable and unique. Students in school can go to work for a day and do something worthwhile and the result are even better with the close connection to the aid project and the school gets feedback on where the money goes and what it is used for.
“Every time we come to Marghita, we see development. It is as pedagogic as it can be and it inspires the students”, Stefan says. “For instance, the pile of gravel we saw turned into a camp venue when we came the next time and what we saw being started two years ago, is now a functioning Day Centre”. “FCE’s work is trustworthy and the administration costs are very low. We know that the money we raise gets there”, say both Stefan and Christer convincingly. It all sounds so easy and they say it is easy! One piece of this puzzle is that they regularly go to Romania and see what is happening.
Today these so called ‘work days’ are mandatory. Those in ninth grade have their day in the Autumn and those in seventh and eighth grade in the Spring. The day is planned as a theme day with current topics and the students who have been to Romania share with the others about the work in Marghita. In the afternoon the students go out to different work places, get paid for the job they do and all of the money is added to what comes in through the street collection and altogether it becomes a LARGE sum of money.
Neither Stefan nor Christer had thought they would continue with this for so many years but both agree that it is a win-win situation. Something good is done for Romania and the Swedish students learn to appreciate their good life and how to share with those who have less.
Both of these good role models are passionate that human empathy should prevail in society and they work hard helping the Swedish high school students to open their eyes to the needs of others. “You never know what this may lead to,” they say. “Maybe those who have been a part of this and are now adults, do something for others today!”
The enthusiasts: Christer Sjöberg, Jönköping and Stefan Karlsson, Bankeryd