Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Moldova - Summer 2003

In 2003, Concordia was involved in setting up and supporting a new project in Moldova. Three volunteers participated in this project, which consisted of running a summer camp for disadvantaged children – including children with physical disabilities - and renovation of a school in order to create a comfortable learning environment and a centre where students can come for different after-school activities. Both schemes would have been impossible without Concordia support and, more importantly, the motivation and commitment of the volunteers who took part. Here one of those volunteers describes her experiences in the summer camp

To visit a place and embrace everything about it means to keep the memories and experiences of it in your heart. I will try to recreate these unbelievable moments of my magical Moldovan summer of 2003.

After a tiring but exciting overnight bus journey from the Romanian capital Bucharest, we arrived at the camp, a beautiful space full of natural play areas, a volleyball court and cute wooden huts. As we walked round to investigate I really felt the excitement and anticipation of the children’s arrival, to fill the quietness with their laughs and happy games. And within an hour they certainly had!

The camp was full of happy faces and at first some homesick, not so happy faces, which soon changed when friendships were made and smiles and hugs exchanged.

The first meal was the most memorable, the children looked at these three strange Brits sitting in the dining area, eating borsch and drinking punch (an apple stewed flavoured water) and watched with curiosity and bewilderment.

I think the children found the language barrier a hurdle at first, however this was only a small problem for a couple of days. Soon the naturalness and want for fun interaction took over, and very quickly it was if we were speaking the same language as opposed to coming from completely different parts of the world.

I believe we shared even more with these children as we communicated through smiles, hugs, laughs, games of 'it' and volleyball, or just sitting and sharing fruit in the wonderful Molodovan sunshine.

The spirituality and ethos of the camp encouraged respect and courtesy to be shown to everyone and everything, which the kids embraced wholly and maturely.

The games at night offered fun and laughter and relaxation, while the activities and themes for the day gave the children educational, fun times with a group feel, as well as freedom to develop friendships and personal skills.

These activities and games were so successful due to the commitment and dedication of all the volunteers involved, and CNG (the Moldovan volunteers) were just fantastic. The children recognised the friendship and trust of the volunteers, and their enthusiasm and energy had such a positive effect on the children and their everyday interactions, games and difficulties.

The parents' involvement and energy was overwhelming for me as they showered their children with encouragement and love, away from the harsh society of this developing country.

The beautiful, natural surroundings with space and adventure for the children with the sun shining all day, every day, symbolised the unbelievable happiness of the camp.

On our return, I look back on my remarkable experience with joy, pride and total admiration for all the fantastic people I met. They will always be in my thoughts and in my heart.

Thank you to Concordia, my fellow friends and volunteers and most of all to the wonderful children and their families. I miss them all very much."

Natalie Clarke, Moldova

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