News from our team in Moldova
Our Coronavirus emergency response - two months in
In Moldova, we have this saying: “When autumn comes, it’s time to count the goslings”, which means that, when autumn comes, it’s time to count the results of one’s work. Even if it’s not yet autumn, we have some “goslings” to count after our first two months of emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time we have been providing material, psychological, and educational assistance to our families, which, we hope, has brought them some stability and optimism during this difficult time.
One of the first areas we looked at was how we are helping families with food and hygiene items. We have had to increase this support and the number of deliveries we are making to each family. In addition we have had a number of requests for support from families outside of our programmes. We have been asked to support 30 new families. During April and May, a total of 100 families have received subsistence packages, being delivered every three weeks.
The Moldovan state emergency regulations, which included prolonged times of self-isolation, can be a dangerous and volatile time for families with a history of domestic violence. This, unfortunately, is a reality for many of the families w work with. To help respond to this issue we set up the Violet Line, an emergency phone line which is open round the clock. Families, or others from the 3 districts we work in, can call to ask for assistance and receive telephone support, which also helps reduce physical contact at this time of isolation. During its first 2 months of activity, the Violet Line registered 788 conversations with people in need of advice, material support, or psychological help. Through our Violet Line we have also been able to extend this service to beneficiaries supported by the local public authorities.
With schools closing there was a move for schools to transition to online learning, which left our children completely excluded as they have no internet connection at home. Partnering with The Black Sea Trust we started a Mobile Library service, which is a collection of over 200 books covering various genres, subjects, interests and ages, which children can borrow without them having to leave their homes. It certainly hasn’t made up for the school classes they are missing, but the mobile library is an opportunity for them to remain engaged in an educational activity, to learn new skills and expand their knowledge until they can go back to school. The mobile library reached approximately 100 children in the first two months of its activity, and will continue to run for the remaining duration of the state emergency restrictions.
We are delighted that we have been able to deliver our agricultural spring project this year. As in previous years, during the month of May, we have provided our beneficiary families with livestock, such
as cows, pigs, and poultry, which play a key role in rural households. We provided 3 cows, 11 pigs and over 1000 birds, to be precise! The livestock will contribute to a more sustainable and self-sufficient life for the families, which is especially important at the moment, as they find the little stability they built before the epidemic is under serious strain.
Our COVID-19 emergency response has been possible thanks to our partners at The Black Sea Trust, to whom we are very grateful for their collaboration. Our thanks go to many other donors and partners who continue to support our work, even in these uncertain times. Like everyone else, we hope that the pandemic ends soon, and that the world emerges better and kinder as a result. In the mean time we wish you good health and lots of optimism.
Best wishes from Moldova!
How do we make isolation more enjoyable for the children?
Given that the COVID-19 epidemic closed the schools and our playrooms at the beginning of March, we wanted to develop new activities to help children remain positive through the isolation period, enable them to use the time productively and to keep them engaged with their education while schools were closed.
One of these activities is the Mobile Library, an exciting collection of over 200 books, on various topics and for various ages, which were purchased with the help of The Black Sea Trust. The mobile library travels directly to our children’s homes so they can choose the books they want to borrow, with a little help from our art-therapist’s when needed. They can choose books based on their own interests and reading ability. Some children have been extremely excited about the library while others have never before read a book for pleasure and see this activity as a punishment! We try to help these children engage with books and learning in a positive way by helping them find interesting, fun and colourful books which we hope will motivate them. The library’s collection includes science-fiction and science books, geography and atlases, books on growing up and child development, children’s psychology and emotions, and many, many more. We’re very enthusiastic about this service as it brings something new, interesting and educational to these children’s lives, broadening their horizons and contributing to an increased love for books, which will benefit the children for the rest of their lives.
Art therapy sessions are another exciting activity which we have recently introduced for children we work with. The sessions are organised by our specialist in their home environments, and more specifically outdoors, where social distance can be maintained. The art-therapist travels weekly to our families and spends creative time with the children by doing small art projects and games with them. The sessions are delivered in a space on or close to home such as their front porch or yard - wherever a blanket or a desk will fit. The children get to escape their daily routine and be creative, by working with colours and different materials. The children also have the opportunity to talk about and share their experiences of isolation and any worries or concerns they might have.
We hope to continue delivering these services and activities throughout the whole of summer, giving the children in our project something to be excited about and something to break the monotony of life in isolation and poverty. At the same time, we see these two activities as a way of preparing the children for their return to school, when, we hope, with our support, the children will be emotionally ready to go back to studying and socializing with their peers.
How are we dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak in Moldova?
Before anything else, we hope that you are all keeping safe and positive through these unusual times. We feel fortunate that none of our beneficiaries or team members have caught the virus this far and we are doing everything we can to continue to maintain all our health.
The first thing we did when this all started was to make sure that all of our beneficiaries were well informed about the virus and understood how important it was for them to avoid social interaction, and respect the new regulations. In rural Moldova, where all of our beneficiaries live, there is a tendency to underestimate the danger of the virus, so this step was crucial. We then worked to identify the potential short and long term effects of the epidemic and began to put in place additional measures to address our beneficiaries’ immediate needs and long term plans. Our main goal continues to be helping families move towards independence and
In mid-April we partnered with The Black Sea Trust. Their support has allowed us to implement new activities and provide additional services. Many of the working adults have lost their jobs, and so feeding their families has become even more of concern for our beneficiaries. We have increased our deliveries and are now providing food and hygiene parcels every three weeks. Another urgent issue for our beneficiaries was, and still is, coping with the emotional distress caused by the isolation, while some are also dealing with domestic violence
Our psychologist is in constant contact with the families, providing emotional support and assistance in cases of abuse, also being a caring presence in our beneficiaries' lives. Our psychologist is someone they can call to ask for help or advice, or simply chat and recharge their resilience and hope for better days. Everyone needs such a person in their life, and now, probably, more than ever.
In May we were able to help our families by providing something positive to help look forward to the future. Buying the families live-stock and poultry helps to provide a focus for the future. Some families had calves or piglets, while others chicks and ducklings, and we were delighted that this brought so many smiles to our families faces.
With hanks to The Black Sea Trust we have been able to provide our families with access to a Mobile Library with a collection of approximately 200 books. The mobile library travels round the villages and to our children’s homes. Borrowing books provides them with the opportunity to learn and read about science and adventure or escape in a good story. With support from The Black Sea Trust project, we are also providing the children with art-therapy activities, right outside of their homes which helps little by little with their emotional growth and development.
After the initial shock and scare, all of our beneficiaries seem to be adjusting well, maintain good spirits and we are proud to support them through the toughest of times. None of this help would be possible without all of the amazing people and organizations that are donating and supporting us. So we want everyone to know that we appreciate you so very much, we are thinking of you, and hoping that your immunity is as strong as your love for humanity! Lots of kind thoughts from all of us!