Can you tell us a bit more about yourself and your role within Save the Children?

Hello! My name is Georgiana, and I am a psychologist and trainer with over 10 years of experience in working with children and young people from disadvantaged communities. I specialize in developing and coordinating intervention programs for vulnerable children and their families, including children with disabilities, children from marginalized communities, and victims of domestic abuse. Currently, I lead a team of over 50 psychologists and educational specialists in social and educational programs run by Save the Children in 4 counties in Romania, involving more than 500 children. Since June 2022, I'm also coordinating the activities of the mobile school in Bucharest.

Can you share with us what Save the Children did for Ukrainian refugees right after the start of the conflict?

When the conflict in Ukraine escalated in February 2022, Save the Children Romania responded immediately by setting up spaces at border areas to welcome and support children and adults. We provided emotional support, distributed essential items, and referred refugees to temporary shelters. Since the very beginning, we have been consistently assisting Ukrainian refugees at border crossing points, accommodation centers, and refugee camps. We've also established counseling services and integrated service centers to provide guidance on how to access basic services.

Why did you decide to use a mobile school tool in the programs for children and families from Ukraine?

In the past school year from September 2022 to June 2023), most Ukrainian children attended the Ukrainian education system remotely, given that studies conducted in other countries are not recognized for Ukrainian children, only the Ukrainian school curriculum. In this context, the educational activities organized through the mobile school were for some children the only way of face-to-face connection. At the same time, the children had the opportunity to discover a friendly environment, to work together with other children of different ages and to exchange common impressions and experiences.

This way, the mobile school became crucial in our educational efforts for Ukrainian children. It provided a structured way to engage children in non-formal education. The bilingual approach in Ukrainian, combined with resources from StreetSmart Play, enabled us to effectively engage the children.

Last year, the team conducted almost 100 sessions with the mobile school in six months. How was the experience of working with the tool?

At times, it was challenging for us to conduct all the sessions, given the short time and the challenging weather conditions we had to work in. During the summer, we carried out activities almost daily, both at Romexpo – a hub for refugee reception in Bucharest - and in the partner schools in Bucharest with which we managed to establish a partnership for the inclusion of Ukrainian children in schools.

The mobile school played an essential role in the inclusion of children because it makes use of a universal language, well understood by the little ones, and the panels in both Ukrainian and Romanian were also of great help.

What lessons have you learned from your work with Ukrainian children and families?

At the end of autumn, I remember we had the most productive day with the mobile school. We planned 2 interventions that day, for about 80 children in total. Children from different backgrounds quickly started bonding, engaged in activities, and learned together. This is how my colleague Tibi remembers that day:

”It was a fantastic moment because this experience showed us that we truly understood what mobile school is for, thanks to the training and our own experiences. As we passed the refugee line with the mobile school, the children immediately widened their eyes and showed a lot of enthusiasm. In a few minutes, the school became an independent tool, where everybody found his place in a very natural way.”

How do you see the future of your work with Ukrainian children and families?

Given the ongoing conflict, many Ukrainian refugees will continue to seek refuge in Romania. We aim to continue our comprehensive support, emphasizing community integration, self-reliance, and durable solutions. Our program will also aim to ensure that vulnerable host community children, as well as other migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees in the country benefit from the interventions, particularly in the development of policies that respect their rights and provide the assistance they need.

More about our partner Save The Children Bucharest: