Hey Guys, long time no see!! I know it’s been a while but I thought you would be interested as to what I got up to when I spent two weeks in Moldova working with a charity called OM. So, here it is. This is what I got up to on week one.
But before I start I have the feeling that no one knew Moldova was a country before you started reading this so here’s the history lesson. Moldova is a country in Europe that borders Ukraine and Romania among others and used to be part of Romanian territory untill it became independent. Moldova is also the poorest country in Europe and has a huge temperature change across the seasons. In summer it can be as high as 40 Degrees and in the winter it can go all the way down to minus 40. this causes a lot of issues as the houses are not built to be insulated. Anyways, lets get back to the point.
We left England on Saturday the 5th of August and flew with Air Moldova. The journey wasn’t too bad but when you’re stuck on a plane for three hours everything starts to get to you. I had the joy of a child sat in the seat behind me screaming and crying and kicking my seat. Which wasn’t exactly my dream flight but I decided that I should have grace and just ignore it. You know the feeling when you get off the plane and the heat hits you square in the face? Well that is the most amazing feeling ever even if I do say so myself and little old me got to experience it.
We then had to go through Immigration and passport control. Unfortunately Moldova isn’t the most racially accepting country in the world and one of my friends that came with me happened to be black. So he got stopped and questioned and unlike the rest of us he got asked to show proof of a return ticket to show that he didn’t intend to stay in Moldova illegally even though he has a British passport.
Moldovan roads are not the best built and even in the capital city most of the roads weren’t tarmaced and if they were they were filled with potholes. But we made it to the mission centre and had a bed for the night so it was all chill.
On the next day we had our induction, we were taught about Moldovan culture and even got to try out Moldovan cuisine, obviously the best bit was the food. They have these pastry things that they fill with different foods such as cabbage, potato, cherries and apple and they were stunning. Being the clumsy person that I am and also the fact that I had to pack for three holidays in one go I may have accidentally packed all of my underwear into the suitcase I wasn’t taking onto the plane with me so we had to take this huge trek into the captial to a mall that was called Malldova. YES HOW BRILLIANT!! and I got my underwear, oh and an ice cream too. the Journey there was the most interesting part though because we had to catch lots of different mini busses but they aren’t like normal busses. They have no limit on the ammount of people that are allowed on, or how fast they go on dirt tracks and there’s the other issue that they are all ex soviet era busses so they are just about held together but you’re risking your life on every trip furthermore they don’t have offical stops you just kinda tell the driver where you wanna go and he tries not to crash as he takes you there.
On Monday we had team training and teambuilding all day. We started off by getting put into our teams and we had loads of different rotations to do. My favourite one was water baloon hot potato because at this point of the day we had been out in the sun for a few hours and it was around 37 degrees and as a ginger this is not a great mix so getting baloons full of water thrown at me fir a good fifteen minutes was a great way to cool down. We also learnt some facts about Moldova and the issues surrounding it. for example we found out that six out of ten Moldovans have one parent that is working in another country. Worryingly as well Moldova is the capital of child porn as well becuas the children are very poor and also white which makes them much more desirable. I feel like the child porn issue in moldova ws the most heart wrenching fact to me that children could be abused like that just so that they could have a chance of escaping the poverty they didn’t even have a choice to be born into.
When we woke up the next morning we were hit with the realisation that today was the day that we would be venturing out into the first village. The first village was north of the capital and becuase of the issues that I am going to talk about I cannot name the village so that it’s inhabitants won’t be persecuted.
We lived with a host family in both villages but the first village was by far the worst. When we arrived they only had two single matresses for all six of us to use which clearly wasn’t going to work. We then had to go and find four mattresses so that everyone could have a chance at a half decent night sleep. I mean, we did find matresses but they wouldn’t be called that by western standards as they were just foam that sank down very easily with the smallest ammount of effort. After this long journey we were rewarded with a strange kind of soup filled with stuffed dumplings that were just about edible.
The next morning we got up early and we did our first kids programme. We started them off with paracute games and loads of other fun things for the children to do. The Moldovan culture is such that children aren’t played with by thier parents but kind of left so the fact that these people who are adults want to spend time with them blows thier minds. Just the smallest thing like playing hide and seek got them so excited and it was heartbreaking but also joyus to see. We also taught them some songs and actions to go with them and they joined in with so much enthusiam I was blown away. We also had a mascot, a bear called orso. The kids loved him but we loved him less as we had to wear this huge bear costume in thirty degree heat which wasn’t the most appeling idea to me if i’m being honest, but we did it because the kids came first. At the end of the kids programme we gave all the childen a goody bag full of gifts including drinks and chocolate, which I don’t know how we manged to stop melting.
Wednesday was kind of the day of firsts, the first kids programme, the first proper day, the first time I ever used a well and, leaving the most exciting one for last. The first time I went for a poo. Imagine this, you realie you need the toilet so you leave your bedroom and go into your en suite. Well, thats a lovely idea but it wasn’t quite the experiene we had. In Moldova plumbing isn’t really a thing so all the toilet are holes in the ground. The one we had in our first house was a bit of a catfish toilet. Although it was a hole in the ground the owners decided that it would be a great idea to put an actual toilet seat on top. Which, in theory would seem like a great idea but in reality not that great. THis is because it had no flush so when you went it all stuck to the toilet bowl. This colletion of dirt must have built up over the years meaning that when you walked up to the toilet and opned the door, the stench hit you so badly that it made you gag. The first time I had to go I threw up and even though every day we poured a whole bottle of bleach down the toilet we still had to hold our noses every time we went in. oh, and one small detail. THE TOILET WALLS WERE MADE OF ASBESTOS!!
I chose to put my difficult toilet experience behind me and start the next day on a positive note. So the next day I threw myself into the kids programme and the kids thorughly enjoyed it. We did a puppet show every day with thwo puppets, one called Kya and one called Nick. Kya was an indian and Nick was a cowboy and the children learnt every day something new about friendships. We also had cowboys annd indian themed crafts every day. This specific day we made cowboy bandanas and the kids could decorate thm any way they wanted!
Thursday was also the first day we did a house visit and food parcel delivery. we visited a man who Lived on his own in a dirty smelly and messy hut. We spent our time there cleaning his place but the most harrowing thing to me was that his bed had no matress and he was just sleeping on the bedframe and no blanket to cover him. He said he was in his sixtys but he looked like he was in his late eightys. His children had both left him to find jobs in moscow and one of them was stealing his pension. He had no money and no one to look after him. He seemed unhappy that we were there when we first started but by the end he thanked us for all the work we did. Under his bed there was a huge pile of dirth that we sweeped up and found out after that it was rat shit. We had no gloves or anything so if I die in a few years you’ll know why.
On the next day we went to visit a house owned by a lovely woman who adopted not one or two but seven Moldovan children who had been abandoned by thier families as well as having four kids of her own. On top of all this her husband was never home as he worked abroad. When we arrived they seemed overjoyed and excited to see up and we got to speak to every single child and the amazing woman. They were all so happy and seemed to have so much joy even though they had so little. We got to hear the stories of every child and what they went through before they found a home.
Although they had so little they wanted to give everything to us which I personally really struggled with as I felt that I was taking what they needed. they sliced up the most amazing waterlemon I have ever tasted in all of my life and gave us the best drink I have ever had called compote. Compote can be made with loads of different fruit but this one was cherry. the fruit is boiled down to a syrup and then mixed into boiling water to make an infusion and sugar is added. I don’t think that i coild have found something so refreshing after my trek to thier house in the heat and humidity. We had a chance to pray with them as well and the children even decided that it would be a great idea to sing a song in Romanainian for us too which was the most adorable thing ever!!
But all too soon the next day rolled around and we were into Saturday. On Saturday we decided to go back to the old man who had been abandoned by his childen and left in poverty. Because when we last visited he didn’t have a blanket we decided to get him one. Saturday was also an evening never to forget because we were given corn on the cob which was cooked by the vicar of the local church but you’ll hear about what happened with that corn in the next blog post.
As always I hope you have a lovely evening and remeber, something as simple as a smile can completely change someones day.