“REINTEGRATION OF VULNERABLE OLDER PEOPLE INTO MOLDOVAN SOCIETY”, EUROPEAN
EUROPEAN COMMISSION, TACIS, 2003 – 2004.
Tacis Support to Civil Society and Local Initiatives
The project aims to promote the social reintegration of vulnerable older people in Moldova by developing a replicable model of older people’s support groups and building NGO capacity to support them, enabling older people to influence policies and societal attitudes which affect them. The project’s target group is vulnerable older people in Moldova and its direct beneficiaries are older people and NGOs supporting them in five sites. Main project activities will include: training for NGOs supporting older people’s groups in project management, volunteering, lobbying, working with media, and fundraising; the establishment of sustainable older people’s support groups and implementation of their pilot activities; the development of a replicable model of older people’s support groups including the production of a good practice manual; awareness-raising through media, a dissemination conference, the production of leaflets on topics such as standards of care, and recommendations for government policies on older people, informed by the experience of older people’s support groups.
HelpAge International (HAI) has been working with partners in Eastern and Central Europe for over seven years to co-ordinate the development of the East and Central Europe Network (ECEN) of NGOs working with and for older people. And intensive five-year programme consisting of seminars in organizational development, exchange visits, training of trainers and publications is being funded by the Community Fund (formerly the UK National Lottery Charities Board). Originally Moldova, along with Belarus and some countries of the former Yugoslavia, was not included in the programme because no links existed at the initial phase in 1997, but has subsequently been included.
An HAI consultant was funded by the Open Society Institute (OSI) to co-train at an OSI seminar in April 2000 (part of a region-wide OSI gerontology programme). Dr. Irina Baicalov of Moldovan NGO Second Breath, who participated in the OSI gerontology programme, was informed at the OSI seminar of the work of HAI’s ECEN, and HAI learnt of Second Breath. She was invited to attend the network’s training seminars involving older people in decision-making, held in Zagreb in May 2000 and Warsaw in March 2001. As part of HAI’s strategy of deepening the regional network and promoting national networking and information exchange. Dr. Baicalov was then contacted by HAI to produce a booklet on older people and decision-making in Moldova entitled “Nothing About Us Without US”, including a directory of NGOs working with and for older people (funded by OSI).
As a result of the interviews carried out in preparation for “Nothing About US Without Us”, Dr. Baicalov asked HAI to support an initial national network meeting of NGOs working with and for older people and local government/Ministry representatives in Moldova. This meeting was held in December 2000 and was attended by HAI. A second national meeting and training seminar on networking was held in July 2001 with HAI’s support. At this meeting, NGOs and older people identified the key needs of Moldovan older people and began to discuss ways of addressing them. Participants agreed that it is necessary to integrate older people in Moldovan society raising awareness on the situation and contributions of older people in Moldova, and develop recommendations for standards of care and government policies, informed by older people themselves. NGOs in the national network were enthusiastic about NAI’s participatory approach to involving older people in the solutions to their own problems as a means of social reintegration, and were also keen to replicate in their areas of Moldova some of the volunteering models Second Breath is already implementing in its community in Balti.
Following HAI’s visit to Moldova in July 2001, HAI and Second Breath began to discuss the possibility of developing a joint-project, building on the needs identified by the national network NGOs and older people consulted, and based on low-cost, sustainable models of older people’s support groups from HAI’s experience elsewhere in the region and Second Breath’s experience of what works in Moldova. A stakeholder meeting held by HAI and Second Breath in Chisinau in February 2002, including NGOs, older people, and local government representatives, and a national network meeting of Moldovan NGOs working with and for older people, also held in February 2002; further refined the goals and activities of the project and contributed to the drafting of this proposal.
Since 2003 HelpAge International and Second Breath have worked together on the development of the project “Reintegration of Older People into Moldovan society” with the generous financial support of the European Commission’s TACIS Institution Building Partnership Programme and Development Co-operation Ireland.
In the project there participated NGOs from the National Network of NGOs working with and for older people indifferent sites of Moldova: Orhei and Chisinau, the villages of Ciniseuti in Rezina and Trinca in Edinet. The project activities included trainings for older people and for several leaders of older people’s NGOs (“Batrinete fara tristete”, “Sperantele Batrinilor de la Nordul Moldovei”, Association of Veterans from Orhei, Association of Pensioners “Bunatatea”, Association of Nursing). The activities also included regular meetings with older people, stakeholders’ meetings and steering groups meetings.
During the 24 months of project activities approximately 700 old people were involved in the project including participation at 6 training events, 3 conferences and 60 meetings in these regions. These activities developed the network of NGOs working with and for older people and a network of the older volunteers working to develop the society.
There were created self-help groups of older people in the five participatory NGOs, that were holding different kinds of activities within the framework of 4 micro-projects: home care, the program “warm house”, rabbit rearing, medical plants collection, social and spiritual care, lobbying.
An important step in the implementation of the project was the Conference of older people held in 2003 just before October 1 – the International Day of Older People. The Conference was attended by the representatives of the European Commission Ralph Genetsky, Tetiana Shulha, Brussels and Cristina Mosneaga, Chisnau. As a result of the Conference there was produce a Declaration of older people that was published in the national media.
The Final Conference of the project and the Good Practice Manual was the results of the 2 year-activities of the project.
The Final Conference for the project took place on 16-18 December 2004 in Chisinau, Moldova.
The conference aimed to:
• Raise awareness about older people’s needs and contributions
• Contribute to debates on policies on older people in Moldova
• Disseminate models developed through manual and national network
Older people shared their views of the project’s impact on beneficiaries and their future activities and the best practice manual was launched as the culmination of activities by older volunteers, beneficiaries and their NGOs, on the project. It is now available from this website.
Participants analysed the Poverty Reduction Strategy for Moldova in relation to older people. Although this analysis was brief, the exercise demonstrated that work needs to be done by the national network to influence policy-making processes and ensure older people are included in future debates.
• Older people are not listed as a specifically vulnerable group
• NGOs working with older people were not invited to civil society consultations
• Minimum standards of services are not defined; how can this actually reach older people?
• The network needs to submit proposals and not wait until everything is done at the Ministry level.
On day three, the network planned for the future. After presentations from 6 new member NGOs from Southern Moldova, Paul Hinchliff (HAI) described the new project (starting in 2005), which will develop older people’s NGOs in the South of Moldova. He invited current participants to share their knowledge through publicising their successes and mentoring NGOs in the South.
Svetlana Bashtovenka from HAI affiliate and project partner, UMUT, shared the experience of the Kyrgyz national network. The project enables older people to improve the quality of life of direct beneficiaries in addition to other older people throughout the country by co-ordinating and exchange of experience in the work of older people’s organisations involved in the project in Kyrgyzstan.
Moldova National Plan of Action within the South East Europe Network ProgrammeDr Irina Baicalov presented the Moldova National Plan of Action for the 9-country SEEN Programme to combat discrimination against older people and promote rights of older people throughout the region.
Participants were thanked for their commitment to making the project such as success.
Full reports of presentations are available from Second Breath and HelpAge International .