Letter: Helping the street children

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Helping the street children

Sir: Christian Wolmar ("The railway children of Bucharest", 8 July) poses the question : "So what good has the work of Western charities done since 1989?" Whilst a number of Western organisations have made false promises and continue to send truckloads of inappropriate "aid", a number of charities do considerable work in Romania, elsewhere in central and eastern Europe and in the former Soviet Union.

Christian Children's Fund of Great Britain has operated child-care programmes in Romania since 1990. These programmes, run in partnership with two indigenous Romanian charities, support almost 2,800 children through individual child sponsorship. In Cluj-Napoca, nearly 700 families receive monthly assistance to help them keep their families together and not abandon them on to the streets or into children's homes.

International pressure has forced economic reforms upon Romania. Many are desperately needed. However, as in the southern world, it is women and children who have been hardest hit as Romania and other countries make their "transition". It is social welfare programmes which suffer.

CCF GB along with a charity from Belgium and a Romanian charity, have recently been awarded a grant from the EU. Our hope is to establish a Family and Child Service Centre in Cluj-Napoca. If successful, we hope that it might be a model which can be adopted by the authorities throughout Romania.

A more appropriate question to pose might be: "So how can Romania implement social legislation and fund social welfare structures: how can the West assist them in doing this?"

JON EDWARDS

Programme Officer, Romania

Christian Children's Fund of Great Britain

London EC2

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