By David Auer, Stepic CEE Charity |

Education is important. We all know that. And the earlier you start, the better it is. Moreover, even a temporary interruption in children’s education has a negative impact on their lives in the long term. Girls suffer the most. A lack of education pushes them back into traditional roles from which they cannot break out without support. Education leads to a better life – education means a future.

Today I introduce you to a project of the Stepic CEE Charity that has addressed this very problem. It empowers women in Slovakia to impart their knowledge to children, thereby giving them a better future.

“Omamas” boost education in Slovakia

Education does not start at the age of six. Children must be prepared for school by developing skills and knowledge from early on. Without the necessary stimulation, a life in poverty is often determined and gets passed on to the next generation. The “Omama” project supports the weakest children as early as possible so that they do get through the education system. And the women of the project, the Omamas (grandmas), are the key to this!

Learning to teach

The Omamas themselves come from the same communities and therefore have a very disadvantaged minority background. After a training by professional pedagogues, they themselves start teaching the disadvantaged children everything they need to know and help to get their education going. By playing educational games and engaging them in stimulating activities, the Omamas enhance the development of the children. With measures targeting specific areas that need improvement, they optimize the kids’

  • fine and gross motor skills,
  • cognitive abilities,
  • language skills,
  • general communication skills,
  • creativity
  • and health, so they can lead healthier lives.

We were very happy about what we learned at the training. Before that we didn’t know how a child’s brain responds to stimuli. We were coming back home full of energy and enthusiasm. We knew we needed to pass on what we learned to other people. This way we can save the lives of our kids and future generations

Sandra, Omama

DocumentaryCesta Von

Long-term and multigenerational effects

By strengthening children’s intellectual abilities and self-confidence at an early age and the more successful they are in school, the better their chances of becoming employed adults. Instead of living a secluded life in poverty, they become integrated members of society, something these children will carry on to the next generation and therefore eliminate generational poverty. Furthermore, by supporting mothers-to-be and parents by showing them how to improve their daily routines such as cleaning or cooking, the children will be raised in a healthier environment.

Omamas teaching kids in Slovakia

Changing the lives of others and their own lives

The Omamas drastically change the lives of these families for the better and at the same time, their own lives as well. As they get trained and subsequently improve their skills even further, they develop their work habits with the support of mentors and become much more employable in the future. When they decide to move on from the “Omama” project, the Stepic CEE Charity helps them to apply for their future jobs.

Investing in women is the most effective means of sustainable development in society and to eradicate poverty in extremely poor communities through education. Women are more likely to reinvest what they have into the education and well-being of children and their families. In other words: when you boost the education and power of women, they boost their conditions and the conditions of the people around them. Or simply put: women improve society via education.

Founded in 2006 by the former RBI CEO Herbert Stepic, the Stepic CEE Charity supports disadvantaged children, adolescents and women in Central and Eastern Europe. The form of support is adapted to the respective needs – its focus is on education. Thanks to its deep local roots, pragmatic approach and active support from RBI’s network banks, the Charity offers the prospect of a self-determined life beyond poverty. Education is the key to this.

All projects are carried out in cooperation with renowned local or international partner organizations and supervised by RBI volunteers in Vienna – since 2015 as part of the Corporate Volunteering Program – and at its CEE locations. This keeps administrative costs to a minimum and all financial contributions flow directly into the projects.