On May 31, 2021, the Institute for Rural Initiatives (iRi) in partnership with GLCAP, USA organized an expert-level discussion with representatives of 15 youth NGOs, leaders of initiative groups from 30 rural communities and youth experts. The purpose of the event was to discuss “among practitioners” the current situation of youth sector at the local level and to present ideas for solutions to the most urgent challenges.
The discussion took place on the zoom platform and brought together over 44 people from the Republic of Moldova and the USA.
“The subject of youth empowerment is on the agenda of our organization. We aim to contribute as much as we can to the process of change at the community level, together with those who make the change in the community – the young people are and must be agents of change… We really want the change.” – Tatiana Cosuleanu, executiv director, Insitute for Rural Initiatives (iRi).
The event began with a presentation of the most priority topics in the youth sector at national level. The representative of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research of the Republic of Moldova, Marcel Marin introduced, to the participants, the opportunities offered by the Ministry in this field, highlighting a series of challenges and obstacles at the implementation level:
“The Ministry of Education, Culture and Research develops and implements youth policies, but nothing is possible independently. That’s why we created cooperation programs with civil society organizations to reach the rural communities more closely.” – Marcel Marin, head of the Youth Department, Ministry of Education, Culture and Research of the Republic of Moldova.
The virtual dialogue was followed by an analysis of the most critical issues, needs and urgent solutions in the youth sector that would advance the level of youth participation at local and national level and the involvement of local authorities in developing and creating opportunities for young people in Moldova.
“It’s a priority to develop an active citizenship among young people, to capacity build the organizations and associated structures in the youth sector, to stimulate the young people’s participation in decision-making processes and to create partnerships at the local level,” – mentioned Nicolae Mocanu, president of NGO Perspectiva, Cahul town,
after pointing out the need to rethink some aspects related to the implementation of national youth policies at the local level, where the responsibility lies with the local authorities of level I and II who showed a low interest in the youth sector.
Nicolae drew attention to some deficiencies related to the activity of the district Youth Centers, which he called “non-functional”, to the urgent need to invest in developing youth-friendly spaces, while also calling on the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research of the Republic of Moldova, to facilitate the process of updating the list of ineligible expenditures for youth projects.
Nicolae offered a series of recommendations including the need to support the institutional development of youth NGOs, facilitating study visits/exchange of experience between youth NGOs, but also the launch of national programs to support young people who want to start a business.
Towards the end of the webinar, the experts from the United States, Deb Martin and Lance Willard, spoke about their experience working with young people, presented practical and functional methods to address the problems of young people in rural communities in the USA that did not require major investments.
“Young people have many ideas for community development. All you have to do is communicate and listen to them as often as possible. Our success is that we ask young people what they want to do for their community or how they want to get involved for its development.” – Dr. Lance Williard, town manager, Columbiana, Ohio, USA.
“Local authorities must be open to learning. You need to take a little risk to be successful. Authorities who are open to testing something new, manage to bring change in the community. The most important thing is to be open to new ideas.” – Deb Martin, community development expert, GLCAP, Ohio, USA.
The “Youth Empowerment Program (YEP)” is implemented by the Institute for Rural Initiatives (iRi) in partnership with Great Lakes Community Action Partnership (GLCAP), Ohio, USA, with the financial support of the U.S. Department of State.