From June 20-24, 2016, the staff and volunteers from CERI Moldova held a Vacation Bible School in Criuleni, a small town of about 7,000 people.
CERI has organized VBS day camps in that town in the past. The CERI team identified a new location for the VBS this year – the local elementary school that was closed for the summer time – a perfect location for the 160+ participants of this year’s day camp.
Criuleni is a mid-size town, in the central part of Moldova, and the capital of the Criuleni raion (district). The raion has a total population of 72,200 living in 25 different villages and small towns. 80% of the population is engaged inagricultural work. A total of 73 NGOs and public associations are registered in the Criuleni raion, with only 3 being specifically focused on the problems of women and children.
Criuleni is a town with multiple social issues. Labor migration, poverty, joblessness, substance abuse and domestic violence are among the predominant ones. While many of the local children are enrolled in schools, widespread absences, due to lack parental oversight, are not uncommon. Many parents are unable to send their children to school due to extreme poverty, or enforce their attendance due to their own substance abuse problems.
The CERI Moldova staff had 5 intense days of VBS serving the Criuleni community and their children. 120 to 130 children participates to the VBS on a daily basis, bringing the total number of participants to 160, which was 100% more than expected and planned for. The team was gladly witnessing new children coming and registering for the VBS every day! Each day children were taught truths from the Bible and learned about how God created the world. Children also memorized Bible verses, sang praise songs, participated in sports competitions, made crafts, and benefitted from several life skills trainings. Many children understood the importance of a healthy life style, diet and sobriety, and committed to abstain from substance abuse and smoking. Many children made a step forward and accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.