A group of Lower Sixth pupils and staff from Dauntsey’s has just returned from a visit to the Romanian town of Cernavoda to support Nightingales Children’s Project. Over a period of 10 days the pupils worked with local street children and orphans, ranging in age from six months to 24 years, to run a week-long play scheme.
The Dauntsey’s team provided a real treat for the local children with craft, sports, drama, dance and team-building activities as well as parties and themed days. Most of the orphanage children live in poverty and have hugely complex emotional and sometimes behavioural problems. Some are quite severely disabled and many have HIV.
To ensure the trip was a success, the pupils from Dauntsey’s started fundraising in January. They have raised more than £11,000 which financed the week’s activities and will fund further projects at the orphanage. Previously, pupils have chosen to fund a local Romanian girl through university, create a community café, build a play park at the community centre and sponsor Romanian girls for the Girls at Risk programme.
This year the money was raised through a range of initiatives at Dauntsey’s including a 1920s themed Charity Auction; cake, crepe and chip sales; a car boot sale and sponsored leg waxing of some members of staff!
Chris Tonkiss, the teacher in charge of the trip from Dauntsey’s said: “The Nightingales Children’s Project has been a long-standing expedition for Dauntsey’s pupils and holds a special place in our annual calendar. We have supported the charity for more than 10 years now. In this time, some two hundred Lower Sixth students have gained a huge amount from the cultural and emotional experience of working with children and young people who are living in far less fortunate circumstances and conditions than themselves.
“The pupils have done a wonderful job of raising money for this year’s trip and it was very rewarding to get back to the orphanage, see for ourselves how our past efforts are paying off, and decide how best to spend the new funds.”
The orphanage is run by a mixture of British and Romanian staff and relies heavily on volunteer input. Since its inception in 1995, the charity has evolved to encompass new projects and international developments and continues to be at the forefront of philanthropic work focused on the rights and opportunities of young people. The charity was set up by the current director, David Savage MBE, who came to Romania in 1992. David has since settled in Romania with his wife, Elena and two young daughters. In 2003, David was awarded the MBE by Queen Elizabeth II as a recognition of the work he has done both personally and through the charity to highlight the plight of under privileged and vulnerable young people in Romania.
The assistant director, Ben Wells, arrived in Cernavoda in 2002 and has remained there full-time, receiving the Beacon Fellowship Award for Young Philanthropist of the Year in 2006. This was a huge accolade that gave further recognition to the dedication and hard work that both Ben and those involved with Nightingales have committed to the continuation of the charity.