Since the fall of communism in 1989, Romania has been working to improve its neglected care system. The charity's roots lie in the country's orphanages, but these institutions are largely a thing of the past due to significant care system reforms. However, there remains a lack of training and professional support for people working with people with disabilities. Momentum is building locally to see greater recognition of music therapy as a valid form of intervention of children and adults with additional needs and it feels as important to support this progress as it felt to introduce music therapy when we started our projects there 20 years ago.
Activities and impact to date
Our first ever project, back in 1995, was provided at the request of a Romanian institution for abandoned children with complex needs in the north of the country. The success of this project, training and equipping care staff to run their own therapeutic music programmes with confidence, led to its replication over the next 10 years. During this time we delivered 13 projects in 18 care settings across the country, with a total of 3,500 children and adults benefitting from music sessions delivered by the care staff, teachers, psychologists and other practitioners we trained. We always reinforced our introductory training with moral and professional support for as long as our Local partners were running music programmes. This led to many of them becoming trainers themselves (the most prolific of whom has since trained 1,500 other care staff) and the majority of care settings continue to have music programmes running to this day.
Our main activity in Romania over the past 5 years has been the provision of introductory training using a Distance Learning Programme (read more here) focusing on the use of music with young children with disabilities. To date 50 practitioners have accessed this training and the majority have used their learning to set up music programmes in a variety of care settings all around the country.
“Music therapy has helped me greatly in my work with children with severe difficulties. The children made real progress with their visual contact, imitation, awareness of their name etc. Thank you once again for enriching me professionally and not only.” (Local Partner)
We are currently in the process of transferring our Distance Learning Programme to be led from within Romania, ably guided by a steering group of 10 of our Local Partners. In 2017 the course will be moderated by our Local Partners while we continue to seek a local academic partner so that the course might be validated in the future to provide its graduates with accreditation for their learning.
Much of our continued role in Romania is to promote the existent local good practice and training opportunities offered by our Local Partners. In 2016 this included facilitating locally-led training for a school for children with autism who were keen to develop a music programme and encouraging relationships between our Local Partners and the University of Transylvania, which offers the country's first Masters in Music Therapy.
In 2016 we also prepared a comprehensive summary of the international research which evidences how music therapy works when used with different client groups. This was reuqested by the University of Transylvania and our Local Partners so that they might better explain the value of music therapy to commissioners, funders, parents etc. (This resource has also been requested by Local Partners in Rwanda and Georgia, so the costs of creating it have been divided between these three countries).
Our Local Partners continue to need support in their continued use of music with children and adults with additional needs. In response to their requests we have improved our Romanian microsite, and continue to invite applications for help sourcing musical instruments (these are still not available within Romania), supervision, and contributions to locally-led training/conferences to support the development of local practice.