Last Tuesday was my one-month anniversary in Moldova! I can’t believe I’ve already been here for a month! Time really flies by.
Today I realized that I haven’t posted an update about my work at the center for a while, so I thought I would share what I’ve been up to!
In the past month most of my administrative work has been helping the director write a report for the IOM. This report outlined the center’s progress in the past year, and described how various grants have been used to support the project’s mission. It focused primarily on the center’s medical records and how the staff supports the beneficiaries’ physiological and psychological health. I’ve also worked on a couple of other smaller written reports/proposals during the past month. All of these reports were written in English, so it was my job to ensure that they were grammatically correct and generally made sense. It is interesting to learn more about the center’s work, as well as the project’s international partners, and I find that working on these administrative projects gives me the opportunity to do so.
Working with Beneficiaries
When I am not working on administrative projects, I am working with the beneficiaries. This usually translates into playing an inordinate amount of Jenga and Uno with kids aged 3-14 (but sometimes we play more educational games, or games that are based in play therapy). However, because the children at the center are generally only transiently living in Botanica/Chisinau, many are not attending school as of now. This makes it difficult for the children to keep up with their grade level, as well as gives them nowhere to go during the day, which ultimately makes it important that we provide interesting and stimulating activities for them to get involved in at the center. Luckily the center does have a partnership with a local school for those staying for extended periods, and this has allowed two children to go to classes. Some of the children are also quite set on learning English, and so we go through a lot of vocabulary at the center (supplementing the English lessons that some of them receive at school).
While most of the children are very easy to work with, at times I have run into more challenging situations. For example, one of the boys often is violent when excited. I am not one for confrontation, especially in a language that is not my first, and so it is times like this where I really wish I spoke more Russian/Romanian (and was a little more assertive!). We also see a lot of learning disabilities among the beneficiaries. I am finding it a challenge (in a good way though!) to learn how to address things such as dyslexia and dyscalculia.
All of the “fun” programs we put on for beneficiaries are optional. This means that, for the majority of my time working with the beneficiaries, I work with the children (who are more eager to play and socialize with us volunteer/staff member types). However, I sometimes work with their parents and other adults. A few of them speak English extremely well, and communicating with them has helped me understand more about what it’s like to live in Moldova and Transnistria. For example, we have discussed why there is so much migration out of Moldova and how corruption/nepotism/cronyism in both the government and the private sphere makes it very difficult to find work in the country.
My schedule at the center is still very much in limbo, which means that while on some days I come in and have a million and one things to do, on other days I sit around for my shift and literally *just* drink tea. This can be frustrating, and although it is teaching me to be more flexible and show more initiative, I do want to spend more time being useful. However, I have been told that this is quite common across all projects, and overall I definitely think that I have been lucky to experience so many of the different divisions of the center.
Up Next: Pictures and more from my trip to Iași, Romania!