The buoyant laughter and voices of ecstatic children filled the hallways of Aripi de Lumina (Wings of Light) learning center in Romania's Craiova Archdiocese on the day teachers presented them each with a brand new school kit from "America". These grateful students were among the thousands of Romanian schoolchildren to have received a cloth school bag filled with essential supplies such as notebooks, ruler, pencils, erasers, crayons and a pair of scissors. Working in conjunction with the Romanian Orthodox Church and in cooperation with Lutheran World Relief, IOCC shipped 18,000 school kits to the Romanian capital city of Bucharest for the new school year. These kits were assembled and donated by generous supporters who believe in providing disadvantaged children the tools they need to succeed in school.
Wings of Light learning center provides social services to at-risk children. Each child receives a detailed education plan with goals to ensure they continue their education, as many at-risk families historically have not made school attendance a priority for their children. Program staff also works closely with the parents, counseling them on the value of an education for their children's long-term success in society.
Some of the staff members at the learning center gained their special social service skills through an IOCC program designed to increase the capabilities of the Romanian Orthodox Church to assist Romanian families in overcoming severe social issues. It is one of the pillars of IOCC's Strategic Plan specifically dedicated to strengthening the Orthodox Church's administrative, financial and social service abilities to respond to the needs of underprivileged Romanians.
More than 175 children were helped in the past year through the activities at Wings of Light learning center. For 4th grader Bianca, the experience has introduced her to new friends and a newfound interest in learning.
"I feel like the time is flying and each day I look forward to meet my friends here and my teachers and learn more new things."
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