Eastern Europe

Eastern Europe

The majority of CERI programs operated in Eastern Europe are concentrated in Romania, Moldova, and a breakaway region in Moldova called Transnistria. Moldova, located between Ukraine and Romania, gained its independence out of the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Moldova struggled to transition to a market economy. As a result of political instability and economic decline, Moldova became the poorest country in Europe. Living conditions deteriorated rapidly, especially in rural areas, and poverty was widespread.

Over the past several years, one quarter of the nation’s population was emigrating to Western Europe in search of work. Hundreds of thousands of families were separated and many children were abandoned by their parents. According to human rights groups, this economic migration was creating a “generation of lost children.”

Economic emigration, poverty, instability and other socioeconomic factors make Eastern Europe, and CERI’s service areas in the region, a hotbed of human trafficking activity. Young girls and women are especially vulnerable to human traffickers. Experts estimate that since the fall of the Soviet Union, between 200,000 and 400,000 Moldovan women have been sold into prostitution.

CERI’s critical programs help find safe foster homes for orphaned children and teach youth aging out of orphanages the skills they need to avoid falling victim to human trafficking. The goal is to help youth become self-sufficient, healthy, and stable adults. CERI programs in Eastern Europe also equip youth with resources to meet their daily needs, as well as life-skills training and mentorship. CERI acts as a senior advisor to the Moldovan government regarding social service standards and, as a result, is making a profound difference in the way Eastern Europe’s orphans and children are cared for and protected.