The Institute for Rural Initiatives (IRI) team and its network of national mentors from all over the country (North, South, Center, and ATU Gagauzia) gathered to spend together a very productive Saturday assessing the community work done by the 30 project communities.
The meeting was also attended by Melissa Crawford, Human Rights officer at the U.S. Embassy in Moldova who saluted the participants, appreciated their work and life stories from different communities, and encouraged them to carry on with their important work.
In a friendly and open atmosphere, the mentors discussed and exchanged their mentoring experiences. The IRI team facilitated the process and collected the issues that need to be addressed in the second phase of the project.
“In all my communities were created local initiative groups. I feel like I found the key for a good dialog and engagement with everybody. The people I met are very very open.” – Varvara Nenita, community mentor (North).
“We are actively involved in the process of interviewing community members. Our goal at this phase of the project is to identify the priority issues and needs of the communities.” – Galina Capsomun, community mentor (South).
The meeting encouraged mentors to also share their challenges and learnt lessons. While many of the challenges were similar, (some community members are still hesitant to engage, several local administrations showed a limited interest in advancing the culture of civic activism on the local level, etc.) there were also a number of differences typical for each communities. The mentors learnt from each other and, in a participative, collegial way proposed ideas and potential solutions.
“Sometimes during the community meetings, especially the new people would ask strange, repetitive questions…but for me it wasn’t a problem to patiently answer them. I tried to avoid any provocation or conflict.” – Mariana Bruma, community mentor (North).
“In all 3 communities there were formed local initiative groups…In one of the poor communities – because it was cold outside – we had to meet in the local medical center, the room was very tight, but we managed to have a good discussion.” – Valeriu Caldararu, community mentor (Center).
Periodic evaluation meetings with its network of national mentors IRI plans to organize every six weeks.
This activity is part of the MEM PLUS project, implemented in Moldova by the Institute for Rural Initiatives (IRI) in partnership with Great Lakes Community Action Partnership, with the financial support of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
This project runs in 30 minority communities from different regions of the country.