Vaslui County is one of the poorest areas in the country, with a high school dropout rate. According to the data provided by the County School Inspectorate, over 785 schoolers in Vaslui have dropped out of school in the first half of the 2010-2011 school year, with one of the main reasons being the distance traveled to the school.

In November last year, our friends from World Vision told us about the sad situation of 150 children from Rebricea village in Vaslui County. Day after day, they must walk 10 kilometres to school, even if this means taking a dangerous road and waking up at 5 am. A simple calculation shows that these 150 children walk every month 33,000 kilometres in wind, rain, frost, or heat. We decided to immediately do everything possible to help. This is how the fundraising campaign How Can I Go to School? (Eu cum ajung la scoala?) was born, its main goal being to purchase a school bus.

Our challenge was to find an idea of a campaign that will raise awareness about the situation of the 150 children, involving a large number of people, with a zero budget.

Thus, the PR campaign had a strong emotional approach. Our strategy was to directly involve the children from Rebricea in the campaign, sincerely telling their story to the public. The breaking point of the campaign was a creative event through which we’ve been able to emotionally engage and involve an impressive number of people. All the tactics have been outlined in such a way as to strike a chord in people’s hearts, increasing the chances of creating engagement in the campaign.

We started the How Can I Go to School? campaign on December 6th, 2011, on St. Nicholas’s Day, by releasing a video story in which the children from Rebricea talked about how hard it is to walk tens of kilometres daily. The children’s messages have generated powerful reactions and a more favourable context for the next steps of the campaign. The next step was gathering public figures (Andreea Raducan, Daniela Nane, Cabral and Andreea Ibacka, Diana Dumitrescu, Cristian Chivu, Madalina Draghici, Calin Goia) and partners (KFC, Itsy Bitsy, Radio Romania Actualitati, Little London School in Bucharest) that helped us with a broad dissemination of the messages, and an impressive number of donations.

The breaking point was the reconstruction of their walk to school in Bucharest. Over 100 people, including stars and journalists, accepted World Vision’s call and walked 10 kilometres with the children from Rebricea, wearing banners with messages meant to raise awareness. The unusual presence of the participants at the event, on the streets of Bucharest, has attracted people’s curiosity and positively influenced the evolution of the campaign, causing donations to increase by more than 500%, compared to the average recorded up to that point.

At the end of the 5 months of campaigning, we were able to collect the necessary funds not only to purchase a school bus, but a coach. A campaign with a zero budget has succeeded, through dedication, enthusiasm and commitment, to generate media coverage and a powerful and vibrant reaction in the most genuine manner. But, most importantly, we were able to put a smile on the faces of those 150 children and to make them happy. From now on, they will easily go to the school, without walking for hours on an unforgiving road. Mission accomplished!