New aggrement will secure children´s right to education

Imagine the delight when Faik, Ramiza, and their ten children could finally leave misery behind and move into a warm home with water and sewage facilities in Skopje, North Macedonia, in early February.                                                                

Faik and Ramiza are also the first parents within the framework of the Loza Foundation’s project “Families in Extreme Poverty” to receive conditional donations: they commit to ensuring that their children attend school.                                  

“We have worked a long time to provide a home for these children. Getting the agreement in place has been a lengthy process, and finding a house with enough room for the family, which they can also afford, has been a real challenge that has dragged on”, says Sabina Grubbeson, Secretary-General, Loza Foundation.

When every day is a struggle for survival, school and education are often pushed far down the list of priorities, but with a safe home, a job to go to, enough food for the day, and clothes on their backs, families can start building their lives for the long term.

Attending school is the most crucial factor in preventing poverty from being passed down to the next generation. However, there is evidence that maintaining motivation can sometimes be difficult, especially when children who are already behind in school face further setbacks and discrimination.

Support for increased attendance
Children typically lag far behind their classmates in terms of academic knowledge as they have missed several years of school. They feel that teachers and classmates look down on them, and they are sometimes sent home if they don’t have shoes or wear tattered clothes. In such situations, it is easy to lose confidence, skip school, and instead help one’s parents earn money for food.

Loza Foundation has made significant efforts, such as clothes and shoe donations, to increase the school attendance of the children included in the project. Families receive assistance navigating the bureaucracy and red tape surrounding North Macedonia’s school system. Children receive tutoring to catch up with their peers, and parents are given information about health and hygiene.

Sought-after legal solution
Although we have seen many families succeed, we have occasionally felt a need to question whether children are being kept at home. It may not necessarily be for work; it could also be that parents want to protect their children from bullying or shame, and in such cases, an agreement is a tool that works in the interest of the children, ensuring their right to education.
The agreement will be used in conjunction with more significant donations to ensure that children living in houses donated by the Loza Foundation continue their schooling.
In the spring of 2023, an investigation was conducted with the purpose of developing a legal solution. This resulted in a donation agreement, which means that parents assume the responsibility of ensuring their children complete their primary education.

From deprivation to a brand-new start
Faik and Ramiza are the first couple to sign the donation agreement. Loza Foundation’s fieldworkers have supported the family since the start of the “Families in Extreme Poverty” project and have, in various ways, tried to find a solution for the parents and their large brood, who lived in a dilapidated eight sq.m. hut without water, sewage, or functioning cooking facilities.
Imagine the joy when the family recently moved into their new home, with beds of their own, a functional kitchen, bathroom, and laundry facilities. Now, a new process begins as they learn to live in the house and manage the household. Lots of new things are available to them and must be figured out, such as turning off taps, showering, flushing the toilet, and using the refrigerator and washing machine.
Faik, who used to collect and sell plastic and metal to recycling centres, has previously been helped to find work as a cleaner. But the wage is meagre, and he must support the family on approx. €200 per month, which is a challenge. Initially, the family will need a lot of support to learn how to pay bills and be frugal with electricity and hot water to stick to the household budget and ensure they can make ends meet.

The sequel to the film about life in poverty
Loza Foundation has supported the family since 2020, when the “Families in Extreme Poverty” project began. Just over two years ago, the foundation made the first film about the family, where they talked about their situation at the time. This spring, 2024, Loza Foundation will produce a sequel, where the family will talk about their move to the house and the changes that has brought. If you want to follow the progress of these children and watch the film later this spring, you can subscribe to the Loza Foundation newsletter.

If you want to support Loza Foundation and help us support more children. Please click here for more information.

The project in brief
Loza Foundation’s support and mentoring program “Families in Extreme Poverty” started as a two-year pilot project in North Macedonia in 2020. The success of this project was subsequently followed up in 2022 by a survey of North Macedonia’s most vulnerable and deprived areas, with the aim of scaling up the operation into a national project and reaching out to more people. Now, the Loza Foundation is seeking funding for 18 fieldworkers who will work daily on reducing and alleviating poverty, registering children in school, and assisting parents on their way out of extreme poverty. If you want your firm to be a part of this, you can sign up as a corporate sponsor and contribute to the UN Global Goals by reducing poverty in Europe.

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Photo: Dare Dimov

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