Community Leadership Academy – an empowerment exercise, a platform for sharing ideas, an adventure

Community Leadership Academy – an empowerment exercise, a platform for sharing ideas, an adventure

For the period from 11 to 13 August 2021, the Institute for Rural Initiatives (iRi) organized the Community Leadership Academy – an activity within the Youth Empowerment Programme (YEP) implemented in 30 rural communities of the Republic of Moldova. In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic this was the first offline activity organized in Chisinau with young people from partner communities. A long-awaited activity for young people and regional facilitators.

During 3 days, 56 young people from 30 partner communities, together with their mentors, learned what it means to be a community leader, discussed the importance of team spirit, studied ways to identify problems and find practical solutions. The young people learned how to discipline themselves as a team, work out and implement the plan of actions for 2022.

The empowerment training activities alternated with lots of games and interactive exercises allowed participants to get to know each other better, exchange ideas and best practices from the communities where they have been working for the last 6 months.

In order to comply with the safety measures against COVID-19, but also for an effective training, the young people were divided into three groups that were facilitated by the best trainers in the country in the field of youth: Radion Velcev, chief manager of the youth centre “Urban Center Comrat”, Ceadir-Lunga, Mariana Turcan, executive director, Association for Creative Development, Chisinau, and Vitalie Cirhana, the director, “MilleniuM” Association, Chisinau, as well as colleagues from the Institute for Rural Initiatives (iRi) Ruslan Stanga, Lilia Sula and Elena Turcan.

Together with 56 young people, 12 mentors representing 12 iRi partner youth NGOs participated in the YEP project. This time, the NGO representatives were the young people’s peers, not their mentors. Both young people and NGO representatives learned from each other a lot of things, complemented each other in ideas and exchanged knowledge and skills. Young people had the opportunity to present their own ideas for a gainful process of community transformation.

“Such Academies are more than welcomed among young people. Besides developing young people’s skills in community activism, they gain confidence and are motivated to get involved for the community’s sake. I am very happy that young people had this opportunity when their summer vacation is almost over.” – Aurora Serediuc, representative of “Bashtina” NGO, town of Riscani.

“During these days I met many interesting young people who have the same desire – to create conditions for young people in their communities. I made friends with whom I hope to keep in touch and share ideas, communicate within our projects in the community and why not meet again at such events.” – Doinita Gociu, initiative group member, village of Suri, Drochia district.

“These 3 days went by very quickly, they were 3 full and interesting days. I go home with a lot of knowledge and ideas that I want to apply in our community. Thank you for this opportunity.” – Mariana Grecu, initiative group member, Al. Ioan Cuza, Cahul district.

The event was festively closed with the awarding of diplomas of participation to all the young people from the Community Leadership Academy with the slogan to get actively involved in changing for the better the rural communities of Moldova.

Returning to their communities, motivated, full of ideas and inspiration, the young people, together with other members of the initiative group and LPA representatives, will develop a plan of action for next year (2022) and continue to make the community more friendly and participatory.

The young people who participated in the Academy, on their return to the community, shared their experience in the Academy with the members of the initiative group and what they learned at the training within various activities: round tables, informational sessions, movie evenings, etc.

The activity is part of the “Youth Empowerment Programme” (YEP), implemented by the Institute for Rural Initiatives in Moldova (iRi) in partnership with the Great Lakes Community Action Partnership (GLCAP), Ohio, USA with financial support from the US Department of State.

More photos from the event can be found on the Facebook page of the Institute for Rural Initiatives (iRi):