”I would like to turn back time, to change my lifestyle”


I know that every person makes mistakes, but I strongly believe that everyone deserves the chance to turn from a wrong path.” (social worker from Terre des hommes, Buziaș, Romania) By offering counselling sessions to youth in detention centres, we want to increase  their chance to social reintegration, their chance to a normal, decent life.

To this purpose, four social workers from our Foundation work with 70 young people from  Craiova, Tichilești Detention Centres and  Buziaș, Târgu Ocna Educational Centres within our project, PRECISION 2 - promoting wellbeing and reducing recidivism of juvenile offenders in Romania.

In Buziaș we work with a group of 11 children (minors) and a group of 8 young adults. In Tichilești, 20 youth participated last year in 12 counselling sessions, and 20 more are involved in activities this year. In Târgu Ocna, a first group of 6  youth, aged between 18-24 years, took part in 12 counselling sessions between August-November 2023. A second group started in November and has already finalised nine sessions.

The purpose of the counselling sessions is to offer emotional support and facilitate rehabilitation. ”We believe that each person depends on his entourage, but we also believe that people can change people”, this is the belief of Terre des hommes social workers. During the meetings, they talk to young people about self-image, communication, conflict solving methods, feelings, values and personal resources, roles and responsibilities, in order to help them reshape their behaviour and reintegrate socially.    

In the beginning, it was difficult for young people to open up, to talk at the meetings. After the first two sessions they started to trust the confidentiality of the meetings, considering the fact that each of them went or is going through similar experiences, and feeling that they are not judged for the things they talk about or they did, Marius Marusanici, social worker in Buziaș, explained to us.   

The sessions are interactive. The trainers encourage sharing of ideas and networking within the group. Each counselling session begins with an ice breaker, then through debates or games the participants reach the topic of the session. They do group discussions, team working, worksheet filling, practical projects. In the end, they are given a task to think about until the next session. Depending on the topic, there were participants who wanted to talk a lot, others who felt ashamed or scared, but all were encouraged to talk.  

At Tg.Ocna, the social worker told us she noticed improvements following the sessions: ”Indeed, I saw changes for the better at some of them: they understood that in future they have to think more before acting, that they must withdraw if the  situation escalates. Others, however, still believe that through violence they can do justice and impose their will. They are  people who don’t have a secure attachment and do not trust themselves”. (Mihaela Tabără, social worker)

The desire for change is very strong at young people in educational and detention centres. Their aspirations are normal and simple: „I would like to turn back time, to change my behaviour and my lifestyle. I want my family to be proud of me, I want to have many kids, to forget what happened here..... to fulfil my dream and become a singer.” (Valerică, Tichilești)

The young people also talked about their plans following release from the centre. ”Those who have a strong relationship with the family members are more confident that they will be reintegrated socially, as the family is their main support. They want a job and a decent living, they want to build and raise families. Those who have children at home are looking forward to seeing them again and spending time playing with them. This is their first wish, because they felt that family is all they need now. They don’t make plans to go out with friends, they don’t think about parties.” (Tg. Ocna) ”Children from the minors group are more confident in their chances of social reintegration, compared to the adult group. In case of adults, they showed some doubts regarding this issue, probably due to their previous negative experience". (Buziaș)

Their chances of reintegration depend on their willingness to follow a career based on work and involvement, on how society responds to them (if they get  support from the institutions they contact), on the opportunities that arise, on their resistance to frustration, to failure, on their perseverance, their ability to reject the influence of the old entourage, on their struggle with temptations (such as the temptation to get something quickly, easily, by illegal means), Elisaveta Drăghici, social worker at Tichilești Detention Centre explained to us.

The counselling sessions took place in the period August-December 2023 and have been resumed this year within PRECISION 2 project - promoting wellbeing and reducing recidivism of juvenile offenders in Romania, implemented by Terre des hommes Foundation in Romania.



Some of children’s answers to evaluation forms filled in the centres:

”I am a kind, religious and hardworking man.”

”I wonder what the future has in store for me, why the people are evil.”

”I feel I am an important man, in love with a girl, an introverted man.”

”I want to have a better  future, to live with my family, to achieve my dreams.”

”I know that my family loves me, that I will succeed, that every man has a kind heart.”

”I dream of building a family, changing my behaviour, getting released from detention.”