The purpose of the workshop was to prepare youth specialists, teachers and representatives of youth NGO’s for the role of mentor, an individual trained to carry out the project’s work in informal youth groups at the community level. As future mentors, the workshop participants were taught how to strengthen their teams, how to perceive, analyze and solve problems and how to make visible changes in their local communities.
The workshop was run by Mariana Budan and Galina Parvana, two experienced trainers from Cahul. The 24 participants from 14 different localities within the Anenii Noi district showed great enthusiasm and a willingness to become involved in local public life. Evaluation surveys showed that the participants were overwhelmingly satisfied with the workshop. They suggested that such activities be organized periodically, so at least one informal group of citizens could be created in each community. They also requested more focus on fundraising, in order to be better prepared to find the resources to solve local problems.
The organizers were satisfied that the goals and objectives of the training had been achieved and that all were prepared to move ahead with the next phases of the project. Informal community groups began to form to address local needs and the most active and promising potential leaders were invited for Study Visits to Poland.
Study Visits to Poland
The two 8-day study visits to Poland, which included intensive workshops, took place in July.
The first group of consisted of 20 young local leaders from 14 localities in the Anenii Noi district (Anenii Noi town, Bulboaca, Chetrosu, Ciobanovca, Cobusca Veche, Hirbovats, Gura Bacului, Maximovca, Mereni, Mereni Noi, Roscani, Ruseni, Telitsa, and Varnitsa) as well as Bender (city) which lies on the border, but within the Transnistria territory. There were workshops on Public Relations, project and budget writing, fundraising for local initiatives, time management, working with volunteers and about the various EU Youth Programs. Participants also had the opportunity for inspirational meetings with the founder and president of the “University of the Third Age” (courses and activities for seniors), “Hope” (rehabilitation and socialization of the disabled), “Sursum Corda” (youth volunteerism) and the “U Siemachy” organization in Krakow which works with street children. Evenings were spent on intensive project and budget writing for the local initiatives. Each day there were individual consultations with MTO trainers so that by the end of the study visit there were 17 new projects of which the most promising ten received financial support from budget of the “Anenii Noi: Destination – the European Union” project.
The 20 participants in the second study visit were young, future journalists mostly from the same localities as the first group. The workshops, run by professional Polish journalists, focused on press photography (each participant had a camera and after taking pictures in Nowy Sacz on a given topic, there were directed discussions about the degree to which each photograph adhered to the standard requirements for such photos), photo journalism, journalism’s code of ethics, international standards for journalists as well as what investigative journalism entails. MTO trainers led workshops on citizen journalism, how to cooperate with mass media, time management and EU Programs for Youth. There was a meeting with the founder and president of the “University of the Third Age” and site visits to the local media (Internet newspaper “Sądeczanin” in Nowy Sacz and “Znad Popradu” in Piwniczna). A full day was spent in Krakow where they visited the headquarters of Polish Humanitarian Action and learned of its important work. (And of course the group visited the Old Town and the Historic Museum located below the Main Square.) During the consultations with the MTO trainers, emphasis was put on the role of journalists in supporting local initiatives by informing the local population about the activities and encouraging them to become involved.
Both groups showed genuine interest in the various topics, asked many questions and were actively engaged in planning the next project activities. In spite of the very short time and intensive work, each group did make a field trip to the nearby countryside and hills. This time in nature afforded both relaxation and the chance for informal discussions and the sharing of ideas.
Center of Active Citizenship
Moldovan schools do not create real opportunities for students to be involved in their larger communities. Lack of engagement outside of the classroom contributes to public complacency and slows progress towards achieving European integration. Therefore, youth were invited to participate in our project and join community life by creating a new space.
The Center of Active Citizenship is in a facility previously used and renovated by the District Council. It is now a place where youth organizations and informal groups can meet. It is also a venue for numerous trainings, meetings, debates, negotiations, and “round tables”. Free English courses are also offered. Students were trained to use these facilities and communication technology responsibly for the public good. In the process, these young people acquired personal values and professional skills that will last a lifetime. Crucially they have been learning how to work with diverse citizens throughout the district.
Democratic Youth Forum
After a long and difficult process of preparing the statute and electing the board, the registration of the platform of youth organizations called “Democratic Youth Forum” took place in November 2015. This umbrella organization will unify the youth movement and through cooperation with the media, it will bring youth issues into the public sphere. Its activities are published on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AneniiNoiUE/?fref=ts.
Leadership Workshop and Motivational Training
A monitoring visit and workshops in Anenii Noi took place at the beginning of August. MTO trainer, Beata Budzik, ran workshops during the day for 25 participants. The workshops focused on raising the level of motivation, project management, conflict resolution, organizing group work, evaluation methods and risk assessment. Topics were designed so that the knowledge and skilled acquired would be directly applicable to the overall project.
The afternoons were spent on site visits to see how the local initiatives were being implemented.
- Cobusca Veche: Alina Erezanu organized a summer outdoor cinema which included a discussion club.
- Maximovca: Ana Buga started English lessons at her home while waiting for renovation at the local school to be completed.
- Varnitsa: Dorina Paduret and Dan Belibov created a Youth Club in Bender (in Transnistria).
- There were also visits to Mereni, Anenii Noi and Gura Bacului where work was still in the planning stages.
Mr. Adam Sauer of the International Solidarity Fund accompanied Ms. Budzik on the site visits. He noted the enthusiasm of the project participants and was impressed by the positive approach of the local authorities and inhabitants.
“Anenii Noi: Destination European Union” is the continuation of a project begun by MTO in 2014 in Anenii Noi district. Thanks to the support of Charles Merrill, 8 informal groups were created to independently work on solving local problems. In 2015 the next 10 groups were formed. They designed and implemented small projects that were supported financially from this project budget. The complete list follows:
- Anenii Noi I (2014): “Disabled but Healthy” Individuals with any sort of disability face many challenges and discrimination in country with so many architectural barriers. Rehabilitation can be expensive and inaccessible. This initiative provides such services as well as equipment for those in need.
- Anenii Noi II (2014): “European Street”. Something as simple as adding street lamps, trash bins, benches, Wi-Fi and street signs has turned the town’s main road into a “European Street”.
- Anenii Noi (2015): “Young and Informed” The creation of a school radio with active presenters brings knowledge about school and local life to the school community.
- Ciobanovca (2015): “Playground for Kindergarten”.
- Cobusca Veche (2014): “Playground Recruits Youth”. Outdoor activity and interaction can be healthy for both mind and body. The existing run-down playground was refurbished to give young people an alternative place to spend their free time.
- Cobusca Veche (2015): “European Cinema for Cobusca Veche”.
- Gura Bicului (2014): “Youth in Sport”. They bought two ping-pong tables, paddles and balls and then created a place for ping-pong games at the local school basement. The idea is to be involved in sport instead to aimlessly roam around.
- Hirbovats (2015): “Center for Rehabilitation”. After organizing extensive screening of the student body, it turns out that
- Maximovca (2015): Center “Lingualeo”. This new f
- Mereni (2014): “Creative Handmade” Center. An amazing amount of colorful and creative handiworks are made by the youth who attend regular meetings at this center. Works are displayed and sold to raise money for materials.
- Mereni (2015): “We Have Talent”. The g
- Roscani (2014): “Regional Tourism” this highly motivated small group created from scratch and published (with additional financial support from the district as well) the first tourist guide to the Anenii Noi district. It is in Romanian, English and Russian with maps and photos. This is a crucial step in encouraging and making tourism more widely viable in Moldova
- Roscani (2015): “Today’s Children – Tomorrow’s Future”.
- Telitsa (2015): “Cinema for Education”. A c
- Tintsareni (2014): “Movie Education”. The group created an outdoor scene on the territory of the high school (the mayor didn’t allow them to use the central park). They also planted some trees and installed a few benches. Once in 2 weeks and on important holidays they show movies for local inhabitants. The projector and the speakers are borrowed from the high school or from the local house of culture.
- Varnitsa (2014): “Exercise Your Mind” A Chess Club for young people from both Varnitsa and Bender (within the Transnistria territory). In fact the Club provides access and time for various intellectual games. Its leader and master mind is enthusiastic and devoted.
- Varnitsa (2015): “Open Air Cinema”.
- Varnitsa/Bender (2015): “Social Club for the Youth”.
Final Meeting, Site Visits and Festival of Local Initiatives
Two MTO trainers, Julie Boudreaux and Alicja Derkowska travelled to Moldova in late October. They met with Andrei Buga, the regional coordinator; Natalia Procopii-Scobioala, president of the Moldovan partner NGO “Genesis” and who was recently promoted to vice-president of the Anenii Noi district; as well Matt Joseph, an American Peace Corps volunteer who has been immensely helpful and very involved in the project. There was discussion of the overall project, the evaluation process and the monitoring visits in key project sites. The MTO trainers were able to see many of these places during the 4 days in the region.
The First Anenii Noi Festival of Local Initiatives took place in the District Council headquarters on October 21 and was opened by the district president who thanked the sponsors, local leaders and MTO. This was followed by a very impressive speech (in Romanian and Russian!) by Tomasz Horbowski, director of the Information Center for Local Authorities in Ialoveni district and who represented Solidarity Fund. Alicja Derkowska described MTO’s long history (2002 – 2015) of involvement in Moldova and thanked everyone for their cooperation in the project.
Each informal group or newly registered NGO presented their projects and the results of their work. The audience of about 100 could not only listen to the interesting accomplishments presented by the young leaders, but could also ask questions and see concrete results. The two coffee breaks during the 6-hour day enabled informal discussions and exchange of contact information while indulging in delicious snacks made by a local caterer. The Festival also included the official opening of the Center of Active Citizenship located in the center of the town just across the street from the district council building. Guests could see the Center’s resources and offerings and take promotional materials.
Another highlight of the day was the presentation by Alexei Gafeli, coordinator of a similar project from 2013-14, which resulted in 22 initiatives in the Dubasari district and 14 initiatives in the Ialoveni district. (At the end of that joint project, Alexei was elected mayor of Cosnitsa!) Andrei Hincu, coordinator in the Ialoveni district, also made a special trip to Anenii Noi to present. Both coordinators came with groups of local leaders involved in their earlier project.
It was originally planned to award the three best initiatives with $200 each for future work. There were so many equally well-implemented projects that we decided to make six awards of $100 to the following:
- Cobusca Veche: “European Cinema for Cobusca Veche” (2015).
- Hirbovats: “Center for Rehabilitation” (2015).
- Mereni: “We Have Talent” (2015).
- Roscani: “Today’s Children – Tomorrow’s Future” (2015).
- Roscani: “Regional Tourism” (2014).
- Varnitsa: “Exercise Your Mind” (2014).
We look forward to continued cooperation and believe that many of these young leaders will one day play important roles in the development of their country as it continues the long and challenging road to the European Union.
Our deepest gratitude goes to the International Solidarity Fund of Poland and Mr. Charles Merrill, not only for their financial support of this project, but also for their genuine interest in its implementation and results.