The project, the people & how to fall in love with Moldova
26.07.16 – Currently back home in France, after a long day of traveling yesterday (1 hour drive, 2 flights, 1 hour train ride)
where: Causeni, Chisinau, Purcari Winery (Stefan Voda district), Transnistria (independent state).
It’s been a busy week, to say the least. But a fantastic one. A week I will remember for the rest of my life. Visiting new countries always leaves me with great memories and impressions, but this time it’s different. Way different.
First of all. I went to Moldova with absolutely no expectations. I didn’t know anyone who had ever been there. I didn’t know anyone who were even talking about going there. I had never read about the country in the news, in any travel magazines or seen any footage about it. Nothing. So why did I go there?
I got in touch with GoAbroad because I wanted to do a volunteer project somewhere in Eastern Europe. Why Eastern Europe? Because my mother is Eastern European (Polish) and I wanted to get to know other countries in that part of Europe besides the ones I already know. I e-mailed the GoAbroad team and asked them to help me select a project that would meet my qualifications and interests, and I discovered a project in Moldova that seemed quite interesting. A community development program.
And a few weeks later, there I was. In Moldova. I got there 3 hours delayed due to technical problems at the airport in Rome (connecting flight) which caused a lot of delays. At Chisinau Airport, I was greeted by the woman who was in charge of the project, her husband and another volunteer. Lovely people.
Approximately 1 hour later, we were in Causeni, which is where I would be volunteering. My host family had stayed up late, waiting for me, worrying about me. They welcomed me, gave me a tour around the house, and served me a large dinner. The first of many large meals in Moldova. The host family was amazing. Kind, hospitable, humble. They treated me and the other volunteer who was staying there, as if we were their own children. And that’s the overall impression I got of Moldovan people. Hospitable, friendly and caring.
The following days were spent teaching English to kids, teenagers and 20-somethings in the community center. And on Wednesday me and two other volunteers, started working on a fun project for kids. We named it “Fun with History and Culture”. We made things that the kids could color and decorate as they wanted, and take home. I talked about Norway and vikings, another volunteer talked about the Netherlands and windmills, and the last volunteer talked about Japan and samurais. The kids enjoyed it, and so did we.
During my stay in Moldova, I didn’t spend absolutely all my time volunteering and hanging out in Causeni. Thanks to the wonderful woman who’s in charge of the project, I got to see a lot in such a short amount of time. She took me and the other volunteers to visit the award-winning winery Purcari on Thursday, and to the independent state Transnistria on Sunday. On Saturday I went on a day trip to Chisinau with two other volunteers (and the cousin of one of them). We had a great lunch at restaurant La Placinte , went shopping at a big market (I bought a handmade macrame handbag), and visited some lovely parks.
Yesterday I left Moldova feeling both happy and sad at the same time. Happy, because I had learned so much about this beautiful country and its wonderful people. Sad, because I didn’t want to leave yet. I wanted another week. Or even two.