“Eight out of ten Romanians go to sleep immediately after checking emails or social media accounts on their mobile phones, and six out of ten wake up doing the same, according to various statistics. We check our WhatsApp messages and give a like to a photo on social media, and so the blue glow of our phones becomes the last light that we see at the end of the day.

While we fall asleep with the light of our phones, Valentina lived in a house without electricity on the outskirts of Pechea commune, in Galați county, Romania. The house sheltered six souls, four of them children. To get to school, Valentina walked for an hour and a half every day. She was 11 when we met her. Paradoxically, she was always the top student. The circumstances of her upbringing and the desire to overcome these conditions led her to open books with immense interest and a desire to gain knowledge that would lead her to a brighter future. Valentina knew she wanted her life to be different.

16 lei. That’s the amount of money that kept her from participating in the County Physics Olympiad cost.

At the age of 11, Valentina missed the County Physics Olympiad. She was the only student from her school to qualify. The reason? The bus ticket from her village to Galați costs 16 lei, which is an amount her parents couldn’t afford. 16 lei! Convert that into coffees at a terrace or tickets to a movie. It doesn’t seem like much, does it? What seems like a small amount to us was money that Valentina’s parents didn’t have, and was an obstacle for Valentina.

Though it may seem like a story of helplessness, it’s a tale of reaching hands and the ambition to clasp them firmly. To make efforts to look forward. And the donors of the Inimă de Copil Foundation gave Valentina a chance.

Heart of a Child Foundation – The Heart of good people

One Village, One Child, the scholarship program, initiated from Valentina’s case, is a heartfelt project of the Heart of a Child Foundation. The project started in Galați, Romania in 2014. This scholarship provides support to children with excellent academic results, whose family’s lack of financial possibilities threaten to cut short the children’s momentum and future. Heart of a Child Foundation provides 12 scholarships per year, giving children school supplies, clothing, footwear, as well gifts, as well as the opportunity to go to camps other non-formal learning experiences. At the same time, this scholarship provides  children’s families with the support of a social worker.

Missing one Olympiad doesn’t mean missing them all.

After becoming a recipient of the One Village, One Child program, Valentina secured the 7th place at the national physics Olympiad. A 16 lei ticket was no longer holding her back! She then started high school in Galați, and, after graduating high school, she earned her place as a student at the Polytechnic University of Bucharest, in the Faculty of Applied Chemistry. Her story shows that, great success is possible even for a student from such humble origins. But, as Valentina herself says, without outside assistance, willpower is often not enough.

Valentina is now in her second year of Master’s at Polytechnic University in Bucharest and works as a chemical project engineer. Chemical engineering represents boundless possibilities. Every day she rejoices in each discovery and the good people she meets, and in the future, she wants to travel, learn about different cultures, and build a happy family.

She fondly remembers the journey that guided her to find her passion for chemistry and the people from the Foundation who helped her fulfill her dream.

“I learned that giving can offer you one of the greatest satisfactions you can have as a human. When you give something without expecting anything in return, you will receive sincere appreciation from the person you’ve given to. The moment you see sincere joy in the other person’s eyes is enough to make you feel incredibly fulfilled!”

In Romania, many children grow up in circumstances similar to Valentina’s. In houses where the only light is the flicker of a candle, children need the help of people who want to improve the lives of others.

“Every child should have their chance to succeed, and poverty should not stand in their way,” says Anna Burtea, executive director of the Heart of a Child Foundation. “We can get rid of the obstacles facing these children’s lives if we all see an opportunities that we have to help, to change the world through kindness, empathy, and love.”

When the blue light of a phone is the last light of your day, think of the child who would give anything to have the warm light of a bulb to help her read her book. We hope that you will have the initiative to become donors and follow the example of those from the Heart of a Child Foundation, to help children like Valentina overcome the circumstances standing in their way and to make the most of their potential.

(Text adapted from an article in Exercițiul18 Magazine / Author: Gina Matei)

You can see how Valentina’s story began here:


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