Romanian Social Development Fund
   
" An organization for supporting people and their problems "
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Opinions

Opinions of Beneficiaries


An intervention model on the benefit of local community

   "The first contact with RSDF took place while concluding a partnership between public local authority and an initiative group created on local level in order to apply for PHARE 2001 program.
It was then, when we got aware of the Law 129/1998 concerning the establishment, organization and functioning, of the Romanian Social development Fund.
    Subsequently, the selection process undertaken by the RSDF on Priority Interventions Program (PIP), Roma community located on Spring Street in the city of Buzau was included in a community facilitation process to deposit an application for funding under PIP.
    On this occasion I received the support of Mr. Manuel Andrew, one of the oldest employees of RSDF to establish "Primaverii" initiative group and to write the financing application for the project handed by Buzau county, named "A better life for the Roma living on Primaverii street".
    I also benefited of the support of Mrs. Camellia Tancau while concluding the documentation of the financing contract and we visited together both the community of Primaverii street and "Buzau Cai ferate" School where will be functioning the multi-functional center on the benefit of Roma community.
    Mrs. Paula Constantin gave me a great support as well; we have conducted an intense correspondence by e-mail and she reported some inaccuracies in the application form (activities, budget, etc..) which we subsequently corrected.
    Buzau county is very content about the collaboration with RSDF, especially by the high professionalism of the persons working in this institution who have been involved in implementing the Priority Intervention program. (Iosif Calin, Counselor, Mayor Office, Buzau city)   

A chance for all

" As mother and project coordinator as well, I must say that, if I have to start again this activity I wouldn't refuse, but now, when I gained some experience, I know that things always have a solution, no matter the difficulties I met in process of helping the children in need. RSDF support is welcome and we want other collaborations. (Gudan Mihaela- project coordinator, "A chance for all- socio-educational center", integrated project, Roma community Talpigi, Galati County)


You have to be patient


"In order to make tourism you have to provide accommodation, utilities, road, drinkable water, sewage to the customers. Otherwise, they come one time and say: It's nice here but, if my car will be broken and I'll pay 1,000 or 2,000 euro to fix it, I won't come any more." (Vice mayor)

"People was a little restrained about the first projects, as they didn't know too much about RSDF activity and they were afraid their applications will be forgotten in some closet. But it didn't. We are very content.
You must be patient, to understand the mechanism and it works."
(Member of initiative group for two projects: Road rehabilitation in Valea Arsitei and the <<Fountain>> tourist pension in Borsa, Maramures County)

"You have to be patient, to understand the mechanism and it will be working." (member of initiative group)
"Mii de oameni au, datorita acestor proiecte, apa curenta." (membru grup)

"People got courage and confidence. They saw it is possible…" (Project coordinator, road rehabilitation, Valea Arsitei, Borsa, Maramures)


We unanimously agreed

"Everybody thought about something. It wasn't one proposal only. There were several projects in discussion about making some sections of sidewalk in town, about fitting the small lake, or strengthening works in a school building" (project coordinator)

"We had the first meeting at the Centre, to avoid problems and gather as many persons we could. And we unanimously agreed to start with the bridge project". (the village mayor)

"Each time I meet somebody he asks me: Is it a joke? You are going to do it, or not?". (secretary of the group)
 
"There have been some persons wondering why do we start this specific ". (coordinator of the project)

"Access rehabilitation in Izvor neighborhood, Dognecea, Caras-Severin"
 


People have seen that it was no lie

"We considered that the roof is affecting all of us. Water will reach the third level this year, the second level next year and then the first one. And then, what can we do? The fašade will be spoiled, everything will be spoiled." (treasurer of the initiative group)

 "We all gathered and decided what to do. Everyone contributed to a certain extent. The secretary of the initiative group was the one who has written the project. […] Everything went good for us. Every member of the group knew exactly what he had to do. The President has written the papers. The secretary had a malleable program, he was traveling a lot and he was able to carry the invitations to the persons who were expected to come and make the project. I was keeping the books record with everything it was needed: contracts registration, documents evidence." (treasurer of the initiative group)

"It will means a lot for the locality. We were even discussing with one of our guardians and he said that he has the courage now to invite his friends and acquaintances in Motru because the town is changed. The roofs have been repaired and look different…"(current coordinator of the project)

"It's good to continue developing such initiatives because people are eager and have seen it wasn't a lie…because they've been reluctant at the beginning and they were saying: come on, nobody has come by now to do anything and now, all of a sudden, the buildings are covered. When they have seen the first, then the second building being covered they admitted: look! It is possible!" (treasurer of the group)

Roof modification for the buildings N3 and N4, Motru,


We have shared our duties

"All the buildings are black, ruined and these will spoil our image." (programs counselor)

 "We have applied for a project [at the previous financing round] and we've been rejected. The project didn't even pass the office phase and we decided that we have to fight now and make it viable." (direct beneficiary of the project)

"It's a very good thing. It shows that something it's moving on in our town. We can either see something was renewed, another thing was done and another one is prosperous. […] You have something to tell…Look, there are some schools built, some roofs repaired in our town too…"(direct beneficiary of the project)

"We have shared our duties. Each of us was doing what he could: one could move and the older people offered moral and financial support. They helped us as much as they could: going to or finding the address of financial institutions […] We've decided to use our skills: one had computer skills, one had research abilities and other had writing skills.[…] We have shared all the duties while running the project for roof modification in the buildings # 16 and 18." (project coordinator)

"Everybody offered to give money, even those having 1 million lei pension monthly. They are happy that something is done." (direct beneficiary of the project)

Roof building project, #16&18 buildings, Petrila, Hunedoara
 

One cannot wait anymore for someone's help

I have started with the necessities. I have checked the eligible activities within AGV projects and I have selected that one which could fit my needs. I had worked as mining engineer but the mine has been close and I have lost my job; so, I have decided, 3 years ago, to start studying a second university…cadastral university. I've thought to do something new, which haven't been done before, for having success. So I've decided to start an activity within services providing." (project coordinator)

 "There are many unregistered pieces of land and this is wrong. There are still cases of disputes and people from the city appeal to the companies in Alba…You have to get the city-planning certificate afterwards and you need the plans to be approved by a cadastral office before that. " (project coordinator)

 " It's still hard to not have courage. There are public money, though...everybody is scared. So I talked and RSDF people helped us a lot…I asked them to tell us what we have to do for avoiding problems. We asked them to draw our attention for any mistake we'll make…you have to correct this or that…for avoiding problems in receiving the following installments…Our collaboration with the supervisors and RSDF management was very good." (topographies engineer, member of the group)

"I've made this project to increase my income. At least, that was in my mind at the beginning…to ensure our existence and the revenue for tomorrow. Then I've gained confidence…I even discussed with Nicu to make other projects on SAPARD…because we cannot do any more projects with RSDF." (topographies engineer, member of the group)

"It's a new, modern service. It will have a great impact on other groups as well." (senior counselor on urbanism/programs-Abrud city hall)

"Everybody's asking: How did you do that? We want to do something as well…This is how many people get courage. There were about 4 RSDF projects, which went well and are already implemented. There are two more projects in Abrud and another one in Baia de Aries, because they have seen it's working."(topographies engineer, member of the group)

 "Seeing that we have been able to do something, other people want to do something as well. Even now, at this session, there have been submitted some projects. People will understand that we must go on with private initiatives and we cannot wait anymore for somebody's help…like it used to be once, when you had a secured place to work within the state-owned companies." (project coordinator)

Topographic services workshop, Abrud, Alba

Support for small businesses in villages
 
"I have been a forester once and I started this business [dairy processing] without much knowledge about it and I kept on working as forester three more years after I opened the business, I didn't have personnel to work with, it was really hard. I've learned, step by step how to manage a business and sell something…"

"The offer was welcome by the village. Oil is expensive in the store and we cultivate sunflower in this area. Oil press produces a high quality oil; we had a couple of presses in the village, but they didn't work properly and the oil they produced was black…There are some projects running on, the young people have different ideas, some of them preferring vegetable gardening activities, mechanization or animal husbandry for milk and meat."

"At the level of our city, we don't have a paper collection center…I was sorry to mix the magazines I had with garbage and I'm keeping them in plastic bags on my balcony, hoping that the center will be finally built. I believe that people education will be the most important thing. Besides, extra working places will be created and we'll have some profit."
(SDF projects' beneficiaries)

"RSDF meant a lot for us…we were in the dark and they opened the light for us. We had high educational meetings with RSDF representatives. They showed us that you can do something and they also showed us how."
(project leader, Pripoare, Valcea)

"Thank you for giving our productive group the chance to carry out a project of income generating activity on the benefit of our community. We have learned new things while carrying on the activities within the project named <<Bees for life>> which will be useful to us in the future the more so we had no business experience."
(Petru Budeanu, Hermeziu-Trifesti, Iasi county)


Dreams can come true for poor communities as well

" You've helped us to build more than we had imagined and there isn't another one in the neighborhoods. After more than five years when the young villagers were crossing many kilometers walking to the neighboring villages to participate at the traditional dancing celebrations, we had the opportunity to organize the event in our village. At the beginning, only few persons were confident in this project but later on, while carrying on the project, the whole village was more and more enthusiastic and tried to give us a hand."
(poor rural community, Busesti, Mehedinti county)

"Fagetu locality located in Plopis village, Salaj county, has not been put on the map until 1990, even if it was  40 km² big, because there was no electricity, access road, telephone or medical unit there.(…) Now the road towards Plopis village as well as towards the  hospital and ambulance unit is accessible due to the rehabilitation made through RSDF and people contribution as well as the local authorities.
Transportation of sick persons from Fagetu to Plopis was made by wagon in the past and lasted about two hours; today it can be done by car. You gave the people a chance to live a more normal life by financing the road rehabilitation project.
We want to thank you from the heart as well as to those ones giving the money from abroad."
 (Rolnyk Martin, priest, CCP president)

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Opinions of public personalities

 Sorin Ionita, Member of the RSDF Board, Research Director at the Academic Society in Romania

RSDF fills an uncovered social niche

"RSDF is one of the best and experienced Romanian organizations - even the best - in carrying out small projects in isolated areas and troublesome communities, having a supple decision structure and a network of facilitators in the field that can push things forward. Set up over ten years ago and reproducing an internationally known model, the Fund is one of the examples of the successful takeover of best practices. The great blockage at the level of poor communities arises from the fact that the assistance, if any, provided by an office based organization, which in essence expects the financial requests appear at local level.
If the communities were capable of such performances they would not have probably needed help. RSDF is thus a rarity in the landscape, because it offers not only the possibility of getting funds, but also transferring technical assistance in the field, directly assisting the beneficiaries in generating and running projects. So, even after Romania has joined the EU and the Operational Programs started being onset, RSDF fills a social uncovered niche (small projects facilitated within the poor rural areas, mono-industrial or Roma communities) remaining, as before the join, the quiet soldier crossing the advanced trench of the battle development in Romania."

Dumitru Sandu, Professor at the Faculty of Sociology and Social Welfare, University of Bucharest, former member of the Fund's Board of Directors, 1998 - 2002

"To avoid the applauding "successful ", I'm wondering why is the Romanian Social Development Fund an institution" from which you can learn?  I put this un-rhetorical question, leaving aside the anniversary occasion. Shortly, the answer refers to three fundamental characteristics: a) adaptation, b) focus on community versus individual poverty and c) accessibility to grants, conditional capital through community development and competitiveness in grant applications. By initial design and the self-induced changes the Fund knew how to move a model "World Bank" to a contextual one. The continuous evaluations through sociological research and internal or external missions of the Bank but also by self-encoding its own experiences of  "community development practice" (reflected in the volume published by the Fund in 2007 at Polirom) have provided grounds for self-castigation. All these were also possible because the Fund team was based on value selection criteria and knew - despite the election cycle with ideological echo at the level of the Board of Directors- to administrate the institution based on community development logic and not-political conjuncture".

Carmen Ghita, Ministry of Public Finance, General Department of Treasury and Public Debt

"The establishment of RSDF meant an innovative approach for Romania regarding the poverty alleviation concept, based on international models adapted to national characteristics. In the 10 years of operation, RSDF has proven, with a vengeance, its managerial capabilities (in terms of the 4 components of the management system: organizational, informational, procedural and decision-making), selecting subprojects exclusively on objective criteria stipulated in the operational manuals, monitoring them continuously and trying to ensure their rhythmic financing, in spite of the reduced personnel and the financial obstacles faced in time. RSDF has managed to propose and implement social projects financed by international financial resources, obviously contributing to poverty alleviation in the communities in which it acted and enjoying the appreciation of the communities, donors, Ministry of Public Finance and other Romanian institutions involved in process of social protection.
I wish RSDF good luck for further activities and I hope the Romanian institutions will use this entity in the absorption of structural funds as well, as the results obtained by RSDF throughout the years prove its capacity, pursuing the Romanian state interests to achieve one of the major targets of this millennium: poverty alleviation."

Richard Florescu, director for social programs, World Bank

"The Romanian Social Development Fund managed to place itself within the institutional actors who have a voice in local development and social inclusion, showing that seriousness and involvement are not attributes expected only from beneficiaries and collaborators, but also behavior rules which the Fund practices every day.
It is amazing how a small team, but with a lot of heart, may push so many communities "benumbed" till now, to social action. The Priority Interventions Program for the Roma communities, managed by RSDF, is the best evidence that our work in supporting the development of Romania has concrete results.
 I expect the organization efforts will be recognized and rewarded, by getting the Fund involved in the management of new funds or loans from the European Union in this period when the whole development is based on programs and projects and the lack of implementation capacity of Romanian institutions is often reported.
Congratulations to the team and its management!"


Johannes Lynn, Vice President of World Bank

"I met Roma people at Valea Hotarului who are able and eager to contribute to the social development of their community. The rehabilitation of water supply system improved their health, hygienic conditions, relationship among the neighbors, living conditions and made them feel proud of their achievement."

Andrew Vorking, World Bank Director for Central and South America (visit of Homorod village, Brasov County)

"It is wonderful to see how little money, but high effort of the community, make things come out so well. What I saw (at Homorod) is not just another example of economic development, but also one of social development, since people here, regardless their nationality, Romanian, Hungarian or German, work together for community welfare.
It is not only a unique collaboration between the church and community, but also collaboration between two churches, two villages and three ethnic communities. Don't forget that we are in South- Eastern Europe, a region with a long history of religion and different communities conflict. I saw here today an area with no conflict at the community level. We should put this example in a box and take it to Macedonia, Kosovo or even Israel and Palestine. "

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Opinions of Collaborators


Manuel Andrei, instructor organizer (1999-present)

RSDF brand

"An ad in the central newspapers said that RSDF granted funding to poor communities. I was a student by that time, I was born in a community that met the eligibility requirements. I read the announcement with suspicion, the message was encouraging, but who could believe in "free" money?. The desire to do something for the village I was born in made me go to the address. A nice lady gave me the information needed to fill in the application form for funding. I went home, I walked from house to house, I explained which the requirements are and I discovered that there were people who believed in dreams, like me otherwise, people who wanted to change the world. Together, we started to design the first project financed by own forces, a project that reflected the most important need of the community. Another ad in the press indicated that RSDF was seeking for collaborators - community facilitators. I went for the interview and I was selected. I haven't realized then that my desire to make a better life for poor communities could become a profession.
Almost 10 years passed away from my first meeting with RSDF, there were no fashionable "brands" by that time, but I discovered along the way that in many villages in Romania "RSDF brand" was much more known and more appreciated than trademarks or political parties.
For me, as well as for other colleagues of mine, working with RSDF meant a new professional trajectory we aimed at many years ago."
 

Ioan Andronache, appraiser-supervisor (2005-present)

An opportunity to meet people

"RSDF gave me the opportunity to meet people and unexplored places. I remembered the first field evaluation I made few years ago, somewhere in Apuseni archaic area, in one of the coldest days of January ... It was snowing very hard, and the landscape was idyllic; my concern that somehow I might remain snowed-up "far away from the world" was scattered by local people who have ensured me that I could use a horse in case the roads will be covered with snow ... In all these lovely years, I was blessed to have the Fund team close, people that I grew fond of because of their nature and their disinterested manner to help people. Happy Birthday to RSDF for 10 years of activity! "

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About Collaborators

MARIANA HARABAGIU, Supervisor, Small Infrastructure

"I like this work because I can feel the satisfaction that something remaines behind me. Mariana Harabagiu approached supervisory work first as volunteer apprentice besides her husband, RSDF supervisor since 2000 in the department of small infrastructure.
They are both engineers, Mariana being specialised in hydrotechnics and her husband in civil constructions. But, beyond the technical aspects of this activity, the impulse to officially join the RSDF supervisors team came from people. She loved to acompany her husband in supervising visits, to meet the villagers, to contribute as little to solve their problems: <<People were so glad when we visited them, like a miracle happened...and then, while leaving, I had the feeling that something remained behind me...>>
She quickly approach people, knowing how to learn about their problems and teach them what to do to have less obstacles: <<It's like being in school in a way...if they understand well the first lesson, there won't be any problems>>. She always try not to give people the impression that she masters the situation, but to show them her support. In this way, people trust her more and become more confident in themselves and they are not shy to ask questions whenever they have something to clarify. In the 5 years since she's working as RSDF supervisor she has directly "watched"  over 40 projects and observed, over her husband's shoulder, about as many.
<<I never had major problems with any community, neither fights or appeals on auction>>, Mariana tells, <<so that, each time I finish supervising a project, I'm hardly waiting to start another one>>.
As any other good teacher, Mariana knows the value of stories. She likes a lot to listen the villagers jokes and tales and she's eager to share her stories and experience. She often prefers to find accommodation in the community to have time enough to chat with people. <<I'm sorry I didn't note down their widsom words all these years..they tell big truths in simple words>>. Therefore, the connection created with these people is special and goes beyond the project. Each time she passes through an area where she oversaw a project she stops to see how the road, bridge or ditches are looking but she especially stops to meet again her former "students" and they, in return, use every holiday opportunity to send her proper greetings.
Eventually everything turns into a beautiful friendship...>>she concludes.
There are many "true stories" in Mariana's quiver, stories about the satisfaction od well-done work, about bridges created between people and about reborn hope.

ADOLF PAPP, Supervisor, Community Social Services

" I've decided to choose a profession dedicated to the people in need".
He has 17 years experience within social services and 10 years experience as RSDF supervisor.
He's a member of the Executive Board of the Social  Assistants College in Romania, the President of ProNobis Association and co-regional coordinator of the projects financed by Dutch Foundations for Eastern and Western regions of Romania.  He felt the call for this profession while attending the events in December 1989 which marked him for ever: "When you watch, in the night, people next to you falling to the ground and you hear the gun shots all around, you start wondering, asking questions you normally ask when you are over 60 years old...I decided to choose a proffession which helps me doing real things for the people in need."
He has started to work as social assistent even during his studies and then he gradually started coordinating more and more ample projects, including PHARE projects, learning how "to help a larger number of disadvantaged persons: children and young people with disabilities, old persons,  Roma persons, etc.  He got involved, within the last 10 years, to carry on this work in 2 situations: as an NGO person and social services performer on one side and as supervisor for implementing  social projects by different NGO's and associations on the other side. He supervised over 60 projects of this kind at RSDF starting with 1999 until now and he monitorised over 50 projects within the Dutch Foundations, in his quality of coordinator.
His manner of talking about the work of a supervisor reminds us of the high-school teachers who are doing their job as instructors, parents and persons as well, going on beyond the technical aspects of the project: "you have to teach a person what to do and then you'll make him accountable for what he did...and, afterall, any mistake which was not made on purpose and faithfulness can be corrected..."This kind of work which demands someone's presence in the field two weeks/month, Adolf says, can be carried on only by those persons who really feel the essence of social activities, who have the necessary empathy and are able to feel the satisfaction of their proffession, even if the change they produce is frequently unnoticed by the society.
Regarding the general framework of social and non-governmental sectors, Adolf considers that the prevention of social problems should be one of the priorities for this domanis: "they teach you in school how to be a good manager, how to use the computer, but nobody teaches you how to be a good parent..." How are the things evoluating from the 90's until now? Adolf thinks that "things are going better for voluntary work"; little by little, the community reaction against NGO environment had changed and the local authorities start mobilizing to create partnerships with these organizations. One can talk hours and hours with Adolf about different aspects of this domain and he's always prepared to show you "radiographies" and analisys which he placed over an impressive experience so far. This is the story of a man who improved, with devotion and enthusiasm a passion which became a proffession...of faith.


LAURENTIU STOICA, Supervisor, Income Generating Activities

"Discuss with the projects beneficiaries, please; they can describe me better."
Moreover, Mr. Stoica doesn't limit himself just to advise the innitiative group of the project. While visiting the communities, he talks with everybody who has an idea for a project or wants to develop micro-enterprises and tries to find together the best ways of action and technical options. "There are few reluctant communities…most of them are listening to you, they get involved and bring new ideas." Many people are still looking for him even after the implementation of projects.
I met one beneficiary of a wood-processing project in Bistrita who was calling me all the time and he even accompanied me to some of my field visits.
One can say he's a severe teacher, but his severity results, in fact, from his great love of people and his desire to leave behind something lasting for them and feel their victory over whatever they began. "I fight to win", says Mr. Stoica.
On the other side, the RSDF people who are working with him for over 8 years appreciate very much his tenacity and professionalism: "Laurentiu is a real PARTNER in every sense for the grant beneficiaries, as well as for us, people from the department of Income Generating Activities. In spite of the complexity and remarkable risk of the Income Generating Activities projects, those became better and more sustainable especially when persons like Laurentiu get involved. Besides being a good technical expert, one can see that he loves his job…he has a special tenacity…he won't give up until he will find a solution and get the problem solved…I have learned a lot from him…"(Doina Danciu, Coordinatoor - Income Generating Activities).
A counselor - that's the first impression of Laurentiu Stoica. One person with a remarkable experience and expertise, who has the patience to examine in detail the resources and specific conditions of each new project and find the best technical and managerial solutions.
Having 14 years experience as designer within the food industry, in finding solutions for optimizing the technological flux, Mr. Stoica considers his position as supervisor for the Income Generating Activities projects being the fortunate continuation of his professional activity.
This is an activity which requires an accurate calculation of technological parameters matching each type of project, organization of human resources and monitoring the application of RSDF procedures, the perfect harmony between the technical knowledge and love for people being two essential ingredients for the activity of a supervisor, believes Mr. Stoica.
He started the collaboration with RSDF in 2000 and, even at that time he established discipline and rigor as major rules of his work. Once a project is designed, prepared and approved it has to be seriously followed up; there is no excuse for hesitations or delays. Mr. Stoica says: "if they have problems in doing something, I'm standing next to them until the work is done." He was facing many delicate situations all these years, he was meeting with many unexpected events, but he always managed to find solutions, to motivate and get people accountable.