During 2014-2018 the Institute for Rural Initiatives (IRI) implemented a pilot project designed to empower minority communities in rural areas, strengthen citizen’s sense of responsibility, bring people from different backgrounds around a common problem by providing them with development tools and opportunities.
The project was implemented successfully at the local level in 22 minority communities from different regions of Moldova in close collaboration with representatives of local government. At the end of this exiting project, IRI team organized an evaluation activity aimed to draw a final line and discuss with regional facilitators about the successes and challenges of the project as well as discuss possible future plans.
Opening the event, Ruslan Stanga, IRI executive director, said:
“In 4 years, the Institute for Rural Initiatives, with your kind support, organized 14 training sessions for 130 stakeholders from 22 communities: community people, local public administrations (LPAs) and the business community representatives. All these years we all kept learning about the values of inclusive democracy. The project mobilized around our local initiative groups around 3320 people, including 20 mayors and 28 entrepreneurs. Through the 37 implemented mini-grants valued at 630,000 lei were addressed a number of 35 specific community problems (parks, pavilions, playgrounds, wells, bus stops, information panels, sidewalks, etc.) – all places of public interest, all made by project volunteers. The value of the financial contribution from LPAs and local entrepreneurs was over 1.4 million lei, exceeding the value of the grants by 122%. In order to be closer to our communities our team has traveled over 30,000 km. It was fun… The most important achievement however was the fact that you learned many many good things…The acquired skills, the changed attitudes towards each other, the amplified desire to do more about your communities is, I think, the best achievement the project and IRI team can be proud of….”.
IRI team discussed with local facilitators who shared their thoughts and opinions regarding this initiative:
“The most important result of this project was that people from our community started to believe in us”. – Pelagheea Ceban, local facilitator, Cazaclia village, TAU Gagauzia.
“It’s hard to develop civic activism in the villages. Your trainings were very useful and taught us how to engage people”. – Elena Radita, local facilitator, Mihaileni village, Riscani district.
“Being a part of this project allowed me to learn how to continuously improve myself and capitalize on the new knowledge. I expended my horizon and developed myself”. – Elena Anghis, local facilitator, Alexanderfeld village, Cahul district.
“We got inspired and passionate about civic activism. What I learned from you I put into practice. Our group applied for another project and got funding. Now, we have 6 new initiative groups in our community”. – Tatiana Cazanji, local facilitator, Vulcanesti town.
The project offered space and expertise for learning, interaction and continuous training, but also an opportunity to solve common problems in different minority communities.
While implementing this project, the Institute for Rural Initiatives (IRI) also applied the experience gained in the past and highlighted “peer-to-peer learning” dimension where experienced project beneficiaries were training new participants. The mentoring component aimed to support and assist newly created local initiative groups. IRI model of inclusion through civic activism was publicly presented within Citizen Participation Market, 2nd edition: new models of inclusion through civic engagement, event in November 2018 (press-release and video available).
“Based on our extensive working experience in Moldova at the very local level – I think civic empowerment and community participation is the only way to revive rural communities in the Republic of Moldova, including minority ones. Our model can be replicated in all rural communities. We can’t wait to reach out to 100 communities by 2020,” concluded Mr. Stanga.
This project is implemented by the Institute for Rural Initiatives with the support of the U.S. State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. Managed by Great Lakes Consortium at WSOS Community Action Commission, Inc. Ohio U.S.
More photos from the event can be found on the Facebook page of the Institute for Rural Initiatives: