The story so far

Started out as a Sunday School, Project Ruth had rapidly evolved into a literacy class after the Sunday School teachers realized that most of the children in their care could neither read or write and had never been to school. Since many of these children were already approaching their early teens they had no chance whatsoever of enrolling in a regular school program. At that time the education system simply didn't recognize that an illiteracy problem existed. Anybody who failed to make it to school at the right age (7 years old back then, subsequently changed to 6) or within the following 2 years had nowhere to go: no special projects, no adult literacy classes, and no educational recovery programs.
 
Nonetheless, the Sunday School teachers took on the innitiative of becoming literacy class teachers. Although the Ruth School wasn't to be recognized by the authorities until a year later, this was really where it all began and that first class of 20 children received credit for the year of study that began in 1993.
 
1993 was also the year when the decision was taken to 'make a go' of Project Ruth by taking on paid staff. The church basement opened its doors to Project Ruth activities for five days a week and the number of children involved (at least in the day centre) skyrocketed. Some days as many as 80 children crammed into that basement.
 
"Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay"
Ruth 1:16
 
Project Ruth gives life-changing educational opportunities to poor children, especially from Roma (Gypsy) communities.
 
For hundreds of years the Roma people, or the Gypsies as they are also known, have been living on the margins of society and are still the victims of persecution and suffering. Project Ruth was started by a Baptist church in Bucharest, Romania following the collapse of communism as a response to the desperate situation of the poorest of the poor in Eastern Europe.
 
 
Who are the Rroma (Gypsies)?
 
Historians have traced the roots of the Gypsy people back to India. We don’t know why they started travelling, but we do have evidence that they began to leave India around the 9th or 10th century. Over the next 500 years Gypsies began to appear across the whole of Europe.
 
Gypsies have traditionally been a travelling people and therefore it is hard to pin down accurate statistics regarding their numbers worldwide, but there may be as many as 42 million spread across every country on the globe. There are probably over 1 million Gypsies in Romania, although official statistics taken from Census data put the figure at 535,000.
 
Gypsies are almost always outsiders wherever they live. Their distinct culture, traditional clothing and inherant lifestyle have made them the object of suspicion and discrimination in many countries. Several official reports over the last decade (UNICEF, Soros Foundation) have highlighted the fact that Gypsies are the poorest of the poor throughout South-East Europe. Gypsy communities are almost invariably subject to all of the problems associated with acute poverty – illiteracy, unemployment, lack of access to health care, high crime rates and low life expectancy.
 
 
Project Ruth and Ruth School
 
Project Ruth is working to transform Roma communities and the lives of Roma children by providing:
 
•    Education
•    Literacy programs
•    School meals
•    Medical and hygiene support
•    Vocational training
•    Humanitarian aid
•    The Good News of Hope
 
The main focus of this work is the Ruth School in the poor Bucharest suburb of Ferentari. This is where Project Ruth began as an outreach to Roma children through a Sunday school and day center in 1992. This initiative was undertaken by Providence Baptist Church.
 
Challenged by an American missionary (T Thomas), the pastor of Providence Baptist Church (Oti Bunaciu) and the volunteers involved quickly realised two things: firstly that the children were hungry – they fought over sandwiches and snacks provided for them; and secondly that they were illiterate and that most had never been to school or had quickly dropped out. These 2 key insights provided the blueprint for the Ruth School and for all the work undertaken by Project Ruth – namely ministry in Roma communities through education backed up by free school meals, humanitarian aid and health and hygiene support.
Project RUTH Presentation