by Irina Rotaru, CERI Moldova Program Support Specialist
July 17, 2017 — Exposing our beneficiaries to volunteer work is one of the main principles of CERI Moldova. We do this especially to provide a learning experience as well as help those in need. Volunteer work brings about a pursuit of gratification in doing good; but also many lessons: the joy of helping others in the community without expecting anything in return, being grateful for what they have, and cultural awareness and enlightenment from others’ life experiences. Each project we have creates a new understanding.
During the summer, activities with beneficiaries prove to be challenging. The first month of summer is usually very busy, especially for those from the Transitional Program; it is a period for exams, internships and part-time jobs. CERI’s Transitional Care program aims to equip teens and young adults (ages 15 to 22) from difficult and vulnerable backgrounds with educational and social skills that can help them manage the complexities of life and proceed confidently toward an independent and responsible adulthood. Taking time off is more difficult for them because studies are a primary responsibility. Nevertheless, they find a way to spare some days for CERI organized events.
Usually in the summer, we organize camps for children in the communities we serve. This year we designed more projects to allow our beneficiaries to interact with various groups of people. For one of the volunteer projects, the CERI team planned a very busy day for a visit to the village of Dolna, Straseni County.
In the morning, we had the opportunity to visit and deliver food bags to 10 impoverished families with the help of the local social worker. Most households were elderly people surprised by our visit, but very gracious to have us, and even shared some of their life stories. Even though many stories were saddening, we were proud of those trying their best to move forward and live their lives. At each visit, the team sang a song, prayed, distributed gifts and encouraged the families with positivity. They were all so appreciative for the time we spent with them.
For the last portion of our day and the continuation of our project in Dolna, we went to a local museum. In the 19th century, a famous Russian poet, Alexandr Puskin, was exiled to Basarabia, a province of the Russian Empire at the time. During his stay in Moldova, he visited the family estate of a friend in the village of Dolna. What is left of the estate, the manor house and a small piece of land, was transformed into a museum in the 1960s. As part of our project, we painted some benches in the beautiful rose garden in front of the manor, and as a reward for our hard work, we were given a tour of the museum. The experience seems to have left a lasting impression on our beneficiaries. They enjoyed visiting people from the village and brightening their day, and had a pleasant time spent on the museum grounds. We hope that through projects like this our youth will be a step closer to what we work with them toward achieving: maturity, hard work, and a big heart for those around them.