It feels so great to be back on Eastern European soil. After a crazy adventure in getting here – Los Angeles to London Heathrow, Heathrow to Bucharest, Romania, and then finally an 8-hour bus from Bucharest to Chisinau, Moldova – Jaron and I have been trying to throw ourselves into the great humanitarian aid work that is going on all around this city. Chisinau is a beautiful city, clean and lively, with big trees and a surprising amount of variation in the architecture. The major capital of Moldova, this is also the financial center of the country. The villages scattered throughout the rest of this country, wedged between the Ukraine on the east and Romania on the west, add up to making Moldova the poorest country in Eastern Europe, and one of the poorest in the world. But you’d never know it from Chisinau.
We’ve been working with Amnesty International here, helping them get ready for some major events to raise awareness among Moldovans about disturbing human rights violations in Africa. Additionally, I met with a volunteer coordinator at Winrock yesterday, and we are going to start working with their core set of volunteers next week. Winrock receives its funding from USAID and is dedicated to curbing human trafficking through educational outreach programs, both for former victims but also targeting young people outside Chisinau who may be at risk. Many human trafficking victims come from impoverished circumstances and are often tricked into believing that they are going overseas to earn money in a restaurant or hotel, and that they will be free to return with enough money to help their sick family members or pay for their children’s’ education. These stories are nightmares that really happened. Winrock is working to prevent them from becoming realities.
We also have our first meeting with the International Office for Migration (IOM) on Monday, another organization dedicated to fighting human trafficking in the region. We’re excited to contribute in any way we can, and learn more about what these organizations can teach us for future Yearn to Learn endeavours.
That’s all for now, but I’m sure we’ll be writing more next week!