Eastern Europe remains a region in transition. Regional conflicts, political instability and economic malaise characterize many of the former Soviet satellite nation-states. Major social upheaval continues to tax Government resources and the resilience of those governed.
The collapse of Communism in December 1989 and the overnight introduction of a multiple-choice, pluralistic society have been deeply disorienting and spiritually overwhelming for many. Romania represents both the best and the worst of the post-communist world in transition.
In the early nineties international media exposed a shocking legacy of the Ceausescu communist dictatorship, the orphans of Romania. Today the child welfare crisis continues in Romania, even with entry into the EU, the recovering economy, and new government policies combining to improve conditions.
This is especially true for exploited and abused girls, older orphans, special needs children, and ethnic Rroma (gypsy), and those leaving institutions to rejoin society.
The hugely disproportionate number of abused, neglected and abandoned children continues to constitute a crisis in a society still recovering from the social/familial destruction wrought by forty five years of communist social programs.
Responding to the outraged demands of the international community, not least the Romanian people; the government has made significant improvement in addressing the child welfare crisis during the last nine years. The first ever child abuse laws were passed in the year 2000 at which time the National Authority for Child's Rights was created.
In 2002 an aggressive national foster home program was started to reduce the large orphanage population. Recently some orphanages began the transition from orphan residential care only to day schools for special needs children from surrounding area villages. Previously there was no national program for special needs children.
Although these new laws and programs have been initially successful, the Romanian government lacks the resources to address the continuing child welfare crisis on the necessary scale. And to some extent the child welfare crisis has roots in cultural and generational issues unresponsive to the current government's social engineering efforts.
Limited government resources require continued international assistance to address the full scale of the child welfare crisis.
Despite the efforts of dedicated government and NGO social workers - including our own - for thousands of abused, neglected, abandoned, and exploited Romanian children, little has changed, especially in rural villages and for the Rroma children.
Nineteen years after the Revolution there is a growing recognition among Romanian Christians of the apathy, lack of initiative, and secular narcissism affecting a substantial segment of two generations; social issues reinforced by years of Ceausescu's ruthless and soul crushing communist regime.
These social issues account in large part for the general cultural indifference in Romania to child neglect, abandonment and abuse.
This cultural indifference — combined with lack of resources — results in the continuation of the child welfare crisis in Romania...A crisis MLI's children at risk ministries works daily to address.