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Volunteer – 2002

After the break-up of the Soviet Union the notion of community service, which emphasized the importance of public welfare and individual contribution to the amelioration of our environment as well as the implementation of high morals, became obsolete in the Republic of Moldova. What once became history is returning to the republic in the different form of Western volunteer work. In many countries of the world every citizen must sacrifice a specific number of hours working as a volunteer. In Moldova this type of service has come into existence only recently and just before the New Year the British Embassy organized a contest to choose the best 2002 volunteer. Tudor Drie, Igor Celisov, Cristina Siscanu were awarded the three main prizes.

The volunteer movement in Moldova numbers approximately three thousand people. It started to develop under the auspices of social organizations. Young people that want to make a difference usually fill up the rows of Moldovan volunteers. They seek no help from the government instead they contribute their own time and effort to achieve results. As volunteers they acquire valuable experience and find true friends. In 2002, a special Committee to advance volunteer work in Moldova was established. As soon as April 2002 young people from five different judets responded to the Committee’s proposal to improve recreation areas by collecting rubbish and planting trees.

The British Embassy announced the contest on the occasion of the International Volunteer Day. Participants had to submit documents testifying their involvement in various volunteer actions, with their brief biographies and essays on the topic “Volunteerism as a means of self-expression and civic participation”. Besides the three main prizes many participants were awarded certificates of honor, among them were Valeri Slavinski who donated blood over 60 times and Victor Birladeanu who studies law. Special attention was drawn to the volunteers who work at the Center for female trafficking prevention. Through the year they have helped organize lectures in schools across the Republic and talked about trafficking. Thanks to the work of over 100 volunteers only in 2002 nearly 800 women were returned home from slavery.

In general anybody can become a volunteer but the Center for trafficking prevention was careful in selecting the workers. Mostly university students who had undergone tests were chosen for the mission. They took training courses and only after passing their examinations received special certificates that allowed them to start working. Only in one year these young people held almost 300 seminars covering various topics on trafficking and explaining the dangers of this social evil. Participants in the seminars adding up to 6000 people had he opportunity to ask all kinds of questions, take part in discussions, and meet women that had become the victims of traffickers. Several of the volunteers working at the center arrived in Moldova from America. After graduating from university they decided to take up the human rights issue. They have a wide field of work in Moldova, said Adam G. Levi from Denver.

Young people who find themselves unclaimed in Moldova travel abroad in search of better living conditions. Among these are women deceived by stories of others getting rich from looking after sick people, working as waitresses and nurses. Most of them however fall victims of trafficking and become entangled in the well-organized web of human traders that take away passports and force young women to prostitution. Nowadays Moldovan girls can be found all over the world. Adam Levi had personally met many of those that came back. He decided to summarize his impressions in a book started half a year ago. Levi plans to publish his book in America and arouse public interest in the problems experienced by people in other countries.

Without the assistance of 100 volunteers a dozen trafficking prevention center employees could not have carried out such a big amount of work. British Ambassador to Moldova Bernard Whiteside awarded the Volunteer-2002 contest prizes. Denis Luti and Edward Winter, representatives of the International Association of Volunteers told Moldovan volunteers about the growth of the movement in Western countries. In its work the Committee for volunteer movement development already cooperates with dozens of social organizations in Moldova. Next year the Committee plans to expand its activities, creating special centers not only in the capital but in other cities and villages in Moldova as well.

Valentina Lipina
Natalia Corobco

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