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Media support in Moldova

The Moldova Project is fortunate to receive regular media support and coverage of our work in Moldova. This provides a fantasic opportunity for us to share information and updates on our vital work with wider audiences across Moldova. We are pleased to share a recent interview our Project Director in Moldova, Victoria Morozov gave to Ziarul de Garda, a national Moldovan Newspaper.

Interview with Ziarul de Garda...

Since the beginning of the pandemic in Moldova, The Moldova Project has been providing support to families in difficulty. From your observations, how did the pandemic affect the villagers?

Families living in rural villages, especially the socially vulnerable ones, even before the pandemic faced disadvantage compared to those families living in the city. We are talking about access to cultural and social events, to various opportunities for involvement and we refer especially to children and young people who have much less access to various formal and non-formal education programs compared to those in the city.

The families we work with were faced with very difficult situations during the pandemic. During ‘lockdown’ when they had to stay in their house, they did not know how to manage the crisis or situation they found themselves in, particularly in villages in the Hincesti district, which were placed in total quarantine. People who were day laborers were deprived of the opportunity of finding work because they had to stay at home. This impacted the level of alcohol consumption and domestic violence which increased considerably during this time. 

Once schools closed children from the families we support were unable to access the online learning activities due to lack of access to computers and the internet. These children would also normally be in receipt of free school meals, creating an additional pressure on the families, ensuring they had enough food to provide for their family.  During this period the social assistance services were stretched with many people needed support meaning they could not adequately carry out their activity according to a normal regime. This is why additional services, such as those provided by The Moldova Project, have been vital.

How and with what did you manage to help those in need? In the last 3 months we have supported our beneficiaries in a number of different ways:

  • Every 3 weeks we delivered food and hygiene packages to approximately 100 families;

  • From the start of the pandemic we launched the Violet Line - a service set up to provide psychological and informative support over the phone to those who need it. People who faced domestic abuse or were worried about having enough food to provide for their family accessed support through the Violet Line. Anyone who felt they couldn’t handle a particular situation on their own. The service has been, and continues to be available to Local Public Authorities (LPA) representatives, whom we have tried to provide support in meeting the needs of their beneficiaries in a crisis situation taking over some of the cases we could help resolve. In 3 months of activity, we managed more than 800 calls to the Violet Line.

  • With support from the Black Sea Trust, we launched a mobile library for children and young people in the villages where we work. Taking online classes was not possible for our children, who do not have the necessary devices or internet connection. They also didn’t have access to books, because the libraries were closed during this period. Thus, we equipped our minivan with more than 200 books for all ages on a variety of topics, and we set off through the villages to promote reading and distribute books to those eager to break their isolation with reading and support their continued learning.

  • We provided over 60 families with poultry and farm animals: 3 cows, 11 pigs, 160 ducks, 160 goslings. This action is part of our long-term strategy of helping our families to build strength and resources in order to achieve self-sufficiency.

How does The Moldova Project identify the vulnerable families to be helped?

Firstly we identify a district in which the proportion of socially vulnerable families is high and we establish a partnership with the District Social Assistance Directorates. They put us in touch with the LPAs in communities where a larger number of vulnerable families often with many children. With the help of the mayor's office and local social workers, we identify socially vulnerable families that fit our support criteria, namely: to have 3 or more children from dual parent families, or 2 children with single parent families, and to be willing to engage with the programme, committed to identifying personal goals and working with us to achieve results in order to become self-sufficient over time.

How open are Local Public Authorities to collaborating with The Moldova Project?

We collaborate with many LPAs. We have faced some challenges but our work has been largely positive.  We have found most LPAs have been receptive to working with us and openly considered our suggestions about how we can support some of the more sensitive cases. We are certainly stronger together, and those who have been working with us for a long time will confirm that when we work together we have a greater impact and the results are more tangible.

Where do the donations for The Moldova Project come from?

Donations come from various sources, such as grants, sponsorship from economic agents as part of their corporate social responsibility campaigns, private donations from individuals, and donations collected as a result of fundraising events, both in Moldova and abroad.

Who can volunteer for The Moldova Project Association?

Volunteers are one of the most important resources of our organization and we appreciate them extremely. Anyone can volunteer on our team. What matters most is to be positive, responsible, and non-judgemental. No prior experience is required, and training is provided during the actual activities. Unfortunately we are not currently recruiting new volunteers. Due to the health and saftety risks of the panademic we have to limit numbers.

How are the children of Moldova, the ones you see and work with? What are their needs and joys?

All children are wonderful, and their needs are as simple as possible: a home, and a loving and caring family. What we are ultimately try to do, our aim is to prevent child abandonment, and to help them have as harmonious a childhood as possible. They do not demand material values ​​from us and do not expect them. School supplies, books, food, and clothes are some of the things they need and if they have them, as well as a family by their side, they have a fair chance at growing up to be healthy and responsible adults. In addition, we offer children other joys through art therapy activities carried out by our multidisciplinary team even during the pandemic, in their yards. Other small surprises, such as a chocolate found in the care package delivered by our team, are genuine sources of joy for the children in our project.

How do they react when you go to help them?

Our beneficiaries understand that what we do is part of a long process towards their sustainability as a family and that being open to this help can give them a great chance to one day leading a life without shortages, and a life with better opportunities for their children. They eagerly await our visits each week and we miss them when we can't visit as often as we’d like, as is the case right now, during the pandemic. 

To what extent do you keep in touch with the beneficiaries? Are you following their path? Do some of them later return to support others in need?

We work hard to establish close connections with our beneficiaries. Some need daily phone conversations, especially when the family is going through situations of depression, anxiety, domestic violence, etc. Rehabilitating a vulnerable person also requires our direct presence in most aspects of their lives, so that they feel protected, understood, supported. Often, just covering the material needs is not what a family needs in a time of crisis. Our multidisciplinary team is so important in providing a range of support to families including counselling, childcare support, mentoring and practical support. We do sometimes have families who, with our help, have reached self-sufficiency and are doing well, and who then want to help support other families who are struggling. 

What projects are you working on right now?

Right now, we are concentrating on activities that help families overcome the crisis created by the pandemic. At the same time, we continue to think about the future of the families, in which we want them to be strong and self-sufficient. We try to help some families repair their homes, change their toilets to ensure they are safe for their children, build sustainable households with livestock and farming tools. It is also very important for us that the children from the beneficiary families are not left behind by the education system, because they do not have access to online school platforms. In that regard, we try to keep them educationally engaged through other means, such as weekly art therapy activities and the mobile library. We will soon start buying them backpacks and supplies for the new school year, helping to ensure that poverty is not a barrier to their education.

What do you think we should all learn from this pandemic crisis? What do you think will happen next?

COVID-19 is certainly a tragedy that has consequences on all aspects of our lives. We are no longer the same, but maybe we shouldn’t be the same. The post-COVID world offers the opportunity for us to reinvent ourselves, and dramatically change our priorities and commitments as a society. If we can stay open-minded and refuse to focus on what was lost, maybe we can learn what kind of people we would like to become in a new world.

In conclusion, I want to thank all those who during this period were responsible, were not indifferent to the needs of other people, took care of patients and beneficiaries, and the community at large. Take care of yourself, your families and the communities you belong to.

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