"SOCIAL REINTEGRATION OF VULNERABLE AND MARGINALIZED OLDER
PEOPLE IN RURAL COMUNITIES OF SOUTHERN MOLDOVA"
Four years of piloting work in Northern and Southern Moldova have been completed successfully and resulted in creation of older people support groups, their improved capacities and introduction of participatory demonstration activities for older people reintegration. The project helped develop and create a reach pool of resource development for evidence based advocacy for pro-older people policy reforms.
In the project, a lead partner from the South (Rural Social Initiative) together with seven implementing partners (Community Based Organisations - CBOs and Initiative groups - IG) set up seven community groups with maximum participation from older people. The lead partner from HAI's previous project (Second Breath) provided advisory support whereas 5 Northern CBOs/IG supported Southern organisations as mentors. Each community group in partnership with the local CBO then set up their own structure and operating procedures and convened regular meetings to institute participatory practices for planning and management of demonstration activities. The partners' capacities were developed through focused trainings, participation in national and international conferences, steering group meetings and many more.
The demonstration activities were very much at the heart of the project support framework around which all the rest was built. The older people's groups and partner CBOs, set up processes that enabled the groups to understand the context and needs of older people better and later on find solutions and solicit their support for realising their objectives. On reflection it seems that these activities have helped transform societal attitudes towards older people and have added to the recognition and respect for older people.
In the domain of communication and resource development, the project achievements and learning were accumulated and shared through publication of this quarterly newsletter "Older People Voices" and a guidebook aimed at a wide ranging readership to help replicate and expand the experience from the project in the work with older people by enabling others to utilise the best practices in the work around ageing.
Lastly, is the element of networking amongst civil society organisations to expand partnerships and engage with a range of stakeholders. The partners have successfully broadened their networks of associates and supporters at local levels and have developed genuine and positive engagement with public authorities. The project envisages sustaining a positive engagement between civil society and public authorities both at local and central levels by forming a network of older people's organisations for collective advocacy. The formal launch of the network of fourteen organisations (project partners) is to coincide with the final dissemination conference where learning from the project will be shared with a wide range of stakeholders.
In conclusion we would like to convey our appreciation for the tremendous work undertaken by the project partners characterised by openness to positive critique, commitment to learning and development, and belief in success.
Sustaining actions: partners taking things forward
The national partners Second Breath and Rural Social Initiative have reiterated their commitment to continue working with the older people's groups after project completion. It is indeed encouraging and reassuring to learn that they either have successfully secured grants to continue and expand their activities or have grant requests in the process of approval. This article features partners' aspirations and plans about continuity of their activities and how learning from the last two projects will be used to take things further.
Second Breath, besides their ongoing work around training and resource development of social service providers, support for people with HIV/AIDs and caregivers have successfully secured a year long funding under TACIS - Civil Society Strengthening Programme. The project will ensure continuity of community based interventions and aims at "Strengthening of the Civil Society Network to Reduce Poverty and Social Exclusion of Older Persons in Moldova". The twelve current partners including respective older people groups will be consulted and supported for localised actions to reduce older people's poverty and exclusion.
The main goal of the project is further development of the civil
society network and older people's representative groups to reduce
poverty and social exclusion of vulnerable older people in Moldova.
Operationally it will support activities to help create best
practice models of income generation by the self-help groups of
older persons, develop the draft of the national strategy on ageing
for Moldova through broad participatory and consultative process,
and the opening of national Resource Centre, which will provide
consultative and capacity building interventions for civil society
and public agencies.
The project achievements and increased organisational capacities have contributed in terms of reinforcing RSI's commitment to continue working for poverty eradication, improving social services delivery for the most vulnerable including older people. RSI has developed a three years integrated development project with local administration, which will be piloted in the central regions of the country during the first year and followed up by consolidation and expansion in the other regions in remaining two years.
The main activities of the project include a series of Human
Rights Education (HRE) trainings with an alternative methodology of
the HRE using social theatre to be promoted among national
stakeholders to highlight problems of the most vulnerable people:
single older people or children carers, etc. Additionally, the
project interventions will contribute to increased visibility of
older people issues in Moldova through regional awareness
campaigning, which is to highlight issues such as consequences of
domestic violence on the well being of older people. RSI feels that
the proposed project shall help further cementing relationships
between the partners from the current project and the learning
acquired will facilitate expanding the scope of activities of the
network of older people organisations.
Project Launch and partner NGOs/CBOs selection, April - July
The project was formally launched in April 2005, as an extension of an earlier project in Northern Moldova implemented during 2003-4. It envisioned social reintegration of vulnerable and marginalized older people while promoting community service and volunteerism. The criteria for selection of NGOs/CBOs was identified at the first steering group meeting (SGM), and included: fair geographical spread within the project - southern area of Moldova; two or three years of operations in Moldova; working in one of the key areas the project addresses; experience or interest in working with older people; initial basic capacity of the group with sufficient staff to run activities, desire to further build and strengthen their capacity.
Seven CBOs/NGOs who fit the criteria were selected to work in the
project with the active support and consent of the lead Southern
national partner Rural Social Initiative and with the consultative
and mentoring role of Northern partner Second Breath.
Each Southern partner was asked to form community groups at their respective locations, for which an activist meeting was convened in July 2005. HelpAge International representatives and national partners RSI and SB tied their initial field visits with these first meetings to meet with older people, CBO leaders, introduce the project goals and objectives and explain project activities. Reflections from the first meetings showed that both older people organisations and members had mixed feelings of hope, scepticism and uncertainty about the project. As summed up by the Southern partner "Pro-Democratie", "Coming from the first meeting with HelpAge International representatives, older people didn't have a clear vision about the aim of the meeting and older people support groups". To the question "what difficulties do you encounter in every day life", the older people expressed their concerns and needs and mostly of financial character, paying less attention to the problems of isolation from society and lack of communication with each other. Somewhere deep in their hearts they felt offended that nobody is interested any more in the knowledge and rich life experience they possess.
A lot of counselling, explanations and individual discussions with older people and CBO leaders helped to gain more clarity of the project goals, participatory methodology and management style where older people themselves act as decision makers.
Building project partners' capacity
The work of the project in Moldova has strengthened the institutional development of the civil society partners and the older people's groups to delivery effectively. There have been 6 training workshops each having different thematic focus and goals. The main training workshops are outlined below.
" July 2005 - the first training workshop on "Project Planning and Management" was combined with "Financial Management" training. It built CBO and OPSG capacities to develop quality proposals and put in place participatory mechanisms to manage project activities and control budgets for the project demonstration activities.
" October 2005 - the workshop on "Recruitment and Training of Volunteers in Rural Communities" gave an insight into effective work with volunteers, developed skills to train older people's groups in volunteering and community development as well as helped to put into practice some of the tools for running and planning meetings with full participation of older people.
" January 2006 - "Advocacy/Lobbying, Fundraising and Work with Media" - combined two trainings for content and comprehension reasons and participants were introduced to concepts, processes and practices around lobbying, advocacy, fundraising and work with media. The overall aim of the training workshop was to give older people's CBOs/NGOs a clear understanding of the theoretical context of lobbying and advocacy, develop skills in analysing stakeholders, practice methods of advocacy and communication with different stakeholders.
" July 2006 - a general "Training of Trainers" (TOT) workshop was organised to develop a resource pool of trainers able to conduct trainings for volunteers and CBOs using participative and interactive training methodology. The workshop gave both theoretical and practical knowledge about learning cycle, facilitation skills and tips to overcome potential obstacles in facilitating the training workshop.
" September 2006, an additional training on proposal writing was organised after demands from CBOs' and was combined with a regular steering group meeting. The purpose was to build participants skills in writing quality project proposals using result based approaches and hopefully this will contribute in linking them up with in-country donors and further diversifying their funding base.
Demonstration activities - an evolutionary perspective
During the project life CBOs and OPSGs have had a variety of different activities deeply rooted in local contexts, traditions and values of each community.
The demonstration activities aimed at facilitating reintegration of vulnerable and marginalised older people into mainstream social life, helping them avoid exclusion and neglect by the rest of society.
Round I of demonstration activities started early October 2005 and finished by late January 2006. These activities were generally geared towards home based care, organising warm houses and older people's sittings, information dissemination through subscription to newspapers, periodicals, celebrating local events and commemoration of international older persons and volunteers' days. In general all activities had an underlying focus on helping older people to get involved in planning processes and overcome feelings of isolation and despair
Round II of demonstration activities started in February and lasted until May 2006. It was planned to be more diverse, introducing a more challenging range of activities of evidence gathering, livelihoods support and most importantly, promoting networking, fundraising and linking the groups with advocacy goals. The demonstration activities have been successful in setting examples of local models of self-help to bridge the crucial gap in social service delivery for older people, and simultaneously have also worked to promote positive image change for older people.
The community based organisations (CBOs) were encouraged to lobby with local governments by highlighting their successes around work with older people and re-assuring local authorities that civil society and community groups could provide alternative solutions and complement public mechanisms to address the needs of older people.
Round III started in early June and finished in mid September 2006 and became the most diversified among the three as it incorporated learning from project capacity building activities such as training workshops, seminars, information sessions, monitoring and support visits from partner organisations RSI and SB and HelpAge International office. Exchange visits conducted during this time between northern and southern organisations as part of cross-organisational information and experience exchange also made its impact on the range and scope of activities. New ideas and methodologies, shared by mentoring northern CBOs, south-to-south successful practices all resulted in a new wave of activities which were implemented locally. Older people's needs and aspirations were put in the forefront and consequently contributed to a greater change in the vision of older people themselves, their local communities, public administration authorities to the issues for older people and the concept of positive and active ageing for all older people.
The range of activities below brightly demonstrates the amount of wonderful and successful work done by the volunteers, older people self help groups and CBO leaders.
" Intergenerational Communication: Club sittings "Grandparents and Grandchildren", "Skilful Hands", Field expeditions to collecting medical herbs and plants
" Livelihood and Income Generation: older persons sittings with different handicrafts: knitting, embroidery, crochet, making objects from osier, vine fibre, leather processing, exhibition with selling, fairs with selling home-made cookery, etc.
" Information Dissemination: round-table meetings, forums of newly retired pensioners, publishing brochures/flyers/calendars/newspaper and magazine articles
" Home-Based Care: home-care visits, warm houses with various themes, open house, etc.,
" Localised Events: celebrating local seasonal holidays, older persons birthdays, gold wedding anniversaries, choir of older persons
" Other: visits to the Monastery, visits to children's summer camp, handicraft trainings, competitions and interactive games.
Life changing experience: views and reflections from the field
ORGANISATION OF VETERANS, IALOVENI
Thanks to the project "Social reintegration of vulnerable and
marginalized older people in rural communities of Southern Moldova"
implemented by HelpAge International, Organisation of Veterans from
Ialoveni had the possibility to strengthen the experience and
knowledge regarding the activities focused on home care services and
Volunteering revived in the hearts of the people as an honourable feeling of respect first of all to older people. Seeing older volunteers going on visits to their peers to give them a helping hand
was impressive and touching. They displayed keen interest in our activities, and provided us with information about new beneficiaries, and then some of them expressed their wish to join the volunteering movement. We consider this change of mindset as one of the most important while speaking about the impact of the project.
A case worthy of our pride is a difficult case of our beneficiary Valentina Iandovscaia who didn't get her pension for three years, and is even now deprived of the family care. On her birthday on the 16th October, when she reached the age of 60, it was us, volunteers who came to congratulate her and fill her soul with some glimpses of happiness and joy. We restored her documents and lobbied for her pension. She now receives a monthly pension of 508 MD lei as an invalid of I grade after a cerebral attack and also was compensated for the three years in the amount of 18288 lei and Social Assistance Department granted her 500 lei for her medical examination and treatment. This is all due to tremendous work of volunteers!
CBO leader, Valentina Carchelan
"AVANTE", CAZANGIC, LEOVA
"Many positive changes took place in the community of Cazangic
during the project implementation period, says volunteer Veronica.
First of all the role, the attitude and care for the older people
has changed. Their position in society became more important, more
significant. A lot was done to raise public awareness about issues
of older people. Hence to that the older people became useful,
important, necessary, and capable of taking decisions and
participating in the social life of society. The older people became
closer to each other, became more confident in their future.
The children took precious lessons from interaction with older people, while participating in different activities alongside with their grandmothers and grandfathers (village sittings, group work, wedding anniversaries, and garden work)
We, as volunteers, engaged in project activities implemented with much desire and commitment. The experience gained will help us organise similar activities after the end of the project".
Volunteer, Veronica Pavalache.
WOMEN'S CLUB "SPERANTA", LAPUSNA, HINCESTI
"I am happy that I am among those who are visited by the volunteers. I have no one by my side, I am alone. The volunteers help me when they can: sometimes with a nice word, sometimes they bring me a pail of water and also help me in the household".
Beneficiary, Bubuioc Ana - 80 years old
"If there were no village sittings or other gatherings of this kind revived through the project, I would never find out about the village news, and we would not be able to meet since there is no other occasion for this. We are no longer invited to weddings and other celebrations as we used to in the good old days and there are no other places to go than to the shop or the church".
Beneficiary, Anastasia Chioasa - 65 years old
INITIATIVE FOR SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT", COMRAT
Thanks to the HelpAge International project, a number of valuable and instructive trainings were conducted, rich materials and resources were provided in the work with older people, we were able to build the capacity of our organisation really well and this definitely will be helpful in our future work. Now having such knowledge we are able to continue our work with older people after the termination of the project. Thanks to the project, the life of older people changed, they became more attentive to each other, more considerate and caring and there is great need to continue this work. " We would like that the work of association "Inspiration" would never stop - everything beginning with our choir of older people, celebrations of birthdays together, sittings of older people - here we forget about our problems, and feel that we are needed by others. We want older people to be happy about each new day lived, want them to love life and do good to other people", writes volunteer Zinaida Kozlova.
Volunteer, Zinaida Mitico
WOMEN'S CLUB "COMUNITATE", BASARABEASCA, CARABETOVCA
"The volunteering activity and self-help groups have changed the life of older people in Carabetovca", says volunteer Maria Chirtoca. I never expected that it is possible to be helpful at this age and help other older people like you. I never thought that being a volunteer is so much joy and that it is so honourable and respectful. It is very responsible as well - you become attached to older people and they trust you. Working with other older people you forget about your own problems and life becomes more interesting and useful. I am proud I was able to attract more volunteers and they too get moral satisfaction from this work. But the biggest joy is knowing and seeing how your beneficiaries are awaiting you every day and how happy you make them feel."
Volunteer, Maria Chritoca
"ARTIZANA, MANTA, PASCANI
"ARTIZANA" has been honoured to participate in the implementation
of the HelpAge International project in the community Manta, village
Pascani," says Constantin Olteanu CBO leader. "Different activities
were organised: such as sittings of older people, warm houses,
home-care visits to immobile older people all of which were of great
success. During these activities older people were offered the
possibility to meet and discuss various issues, to remember the old
traditions. "ARTIZANA" facilitated the creation of an older people's
support group, because it is they who better understand the
difficulties and the needs of this age, when they are isolated from
their children and forgotten by the society". Besides that,
continues Constantin, we set up a list of older people -
beneficiaries from Manta community and village Pascani, all in all
575 persons out of which only 97 persons benefited from our support
due to the scares resources. We also plan in the future to give the
possibility to more persons to benefit from our services and
One of the beneficiaries of the project was Mrs. Marcu Ioana, a lonely older woman deprived of any support. Judging by her words the activities implemented within the project were like a life saving boat for her, because it gave her the possibility to leave the area of her household, in her words from the "prison" to communicate with her fellows and to meet people from other villages and communities, to escape from her loneliness and sadness that were so hard on her".
On behalf of all older people from Manta and Pascani villages we thank the donors and people involved in this project for the special opportunity offered to us.
CBO leader Constantin Olteanu, Marcu Ioana, beneficiary
"PRO-DEMOCRATIE", SATUL NOU, CIMISLIA
My name is Tecla Chistol, I am 85, and all my life I suffered a lot: the war, the famine, humiliation. I brought up 8 children, it was not easy. I hoped that when I become old would have their support. But things became even more difficult for me - my husband died, the children married and went away, and I remained alone. I am an ill person suffering from a disease in the legs and completely hopeless and immobile. The days seemed endless for me, for hours and hours I look with sadness through the window at the passers by, but nobody with whom I could exchange a few words stepped into my house, I couldn't learn about what is happening in the village. One day my neighbour Maria Sofronovici, came to see me and told me about the volunteering movement within our village and informed me about her intention of organising a "warm house" activity. I was very happy about the proposal and accepted it on the spot. It's been a long time since I received so many people in my house. I could meet the villagers whom I hadn't seen for years, who thought me dead. Somebody said: "I often passed by your house but I felt uncomfortable to come in. From now on I will come to visit you more often." Since then it is true that more people started to visit me, we discuss different things, they help me with the house work when needed, especially in winter. I want to thank the volunteers who are also old but find time and forces to help those who are less happy and helpless to manage the hard life by themselves"
Beneficiary, Tecla Chistol
Experiences in Southern Moldova: reflections from northern mentor organisations
All the way through the project the northern partners
participated in various joint activities, steering group meetings,
training workshops and were kept informed of all project
developments. Acting in their changed role as mentors they
demonstrated keen interest in following up and cherishing every
single achievement of their southern counterparts, no matter how big
At the start, the mentors hosted southern CBOs during learning and experience exchange visits and provided useful guidance on the work with older people, types of activities that were possible to organise with and for older people and most importantly the methodology of work they had been using in the previous project. Later the northern mentors paid return visits to the southern partners to have the first hand account of their activities and learn from the experiences in the South.
Due to regular interaction during meetings, conferences and trainings the representatives from the south developed friendly relations with northern mentors based on mutual respect, greater information and experience exchange whilst demonstrating interest and commitment to sharing resources for greater good of older people.
The comments below reflect the opinion and advice of mentor organisations.
Eleonora Bogus, head of Association of Veterans, Orhei, mentioned "Observing the development of southern organisations during joint events like trainings and conferences, during exchange visits I was happy to note their vivid interest in the work with older people, their desire to succeed and their commitment. It was also pleasing to see that they developed new activities which hadn't been practiced in the North: Choir of older people in Comrat, Gold Wedding Anniversaries in Carabetovca and Satul Nou, rabbit rearing in Ialoveni and many others. I also noted that the attitude to older people, attention to them and care have changed, there is more tolerance and respect towards them. It is also interesting that we have learnt a lot from them and particularly how to make some of the activities sustainable." And most importantly I believe, continues Eleonora, that the volunteering movement that we had started spread out and is on the rise after project interventions. I'm sure this good thing will continue."
Valeriu Marciuc, from "Batrinete Fara Tristete" organisation, Anenii Noi and Alexandra Tetiu from "Speranta", Edinets, and Trinca remained impressed by the range of activities organised in the South, particularly after the exchange visits to Satul Nou where they could see in practice how demonstration activities worked. They hope they can find funding after the project termination to continue the good work, as according to Valeriu's experience it is really very challenging to find financial resources. He and Alexandra wish them well.
The two representatives of Northern CBO "Bunatatea" - Valeriu Cernei and Maria Cenusa, participants of all joint activities were greatly impressed by what they have seen during the exchange visits in the South, mainly by the suggestions to continue the fight for the rights of older people, and organise consultations for them. Valeriu Cernei emphasized the importance of collaboration between older people, the Ministry of Health and Social Protection and Government.
Numeral summary of project achievements
This page summarises project interventions and activities in
terms of numbers which we hope would help the readers get a glimpse
of what older people organisations have been able to achieve.
Older volunteers & beneficiaries of home care visits:
" At seven project locations in Southern Moldova, 161 volunteers with an average age of 62 years got registered with older persons' support groups and are active in rendering home care support to immobile and bed ridden older people.
" The proportion of female volunteers is much higher (roughly 80%) as these groups have only 34 male volunteers and remaining 127 are women.
" The number for home care beneficiaries stands at 506 older persons in seven project communities. Again, female proportion is much higher, 341 compared to 165 male beneficiaries, which is roughly 2/3 of the total.
" On average one volunteer is taking care of 3 older beneficiaries.
" So far three rounds of demonstration activities are implemented in seven communities, with an average duration of 3-4 months each.
" In total 3483 of different demonstration activities were planned and organized with the break-up by each round as 1411, 1131 and 941 events in the first, second and third rounds respectively.
" The implementing community based organizations i.e. "Pro-Democratie" Satul Nou, Cimislia, Women's Club "Speranta", Lapusna, Hincesti, and Initiative for Sustainable Community Development from Comrat, have had the maximum numbers of home care visits.
" The Organisation of Veterans from Ialoveni and Women's Club "Comunitate" from Carabetovca, Basarabeasca are in lead for a maximum number of information dissemination activities.
" The second and third rounds have had particular focus on income generation activities having 58 and 54 events organized respectively. "Artizana" from Pascani, Cahul and "Avante" from Cazangic Leova had the biggest number of events.
" The total direct beneficiaries of all demonstration activities is 8920 people, of which 5615 are older people and remaining 3305 are from other age groups.
" The demonstration activities have indirectly benefited 41370 people.
Capacity building of community based organisations & older persons' support groups:
" To build capacities of community based organisations and older persons' support groups 6 training workshops (including Training of Trainers) have been organised.
" In total 163 people took part in the trainings (90% of repeated participants) including 24 who have been trained as trainers. Female representation in trainings has been much higher i.e. 81%, compared to 19% for males.
" To demonstrate participatory management, build partners capacities and take decisions on operational issues of the project demonstration activities 9 Steering Group meetings have been organised. In total 225 people participated in these meetings with much higher female representation i.e.186 as against 39 male participants.
" On average 10 older persons' support group meetings were organised in seven project communities, attended repeated by project volunteers(161) and beneficiaries (142).
HelpAge International (HAI) is a global network of not-for-profit organisations with a mission to work with and for disadvantaged older people worldwide to achieve a lasting improvement in the quality of their lives.
Older People's Voices is a quarterly newsletter offering updates, information exchange and practical advice on ageing and development in the framework of the European Commission TACIS IBPP and Irish Aid funded project "Social reintegration of vulnerable and marginalized older people of rural communities in Southern Moldova" Older People's Voices is published in three languages: Romanian, Russian and English. Copies are also available free of charge at the HelpAge International office in Moldova and also can be found at the Internet site: http://www.helpage.org.
HelpAge International has been working in Moldova since 2000, supporting local partners by building their capacities to further the cause of mainstreaming ageing in policy and practice levels. The ongoing project (an extension of the last project implemented in the North 2003-04) is implemented in the South and aims at social reintegration of vulnerable older people in Southern Moldova. The project started in April 2005 and will continue until November 2006.
The project promotes multi-tiered partnership between local
groups, civil society, local and national governments to make the
process of older people's reintegration more inclusive and
participatory. The project has successfully introduced low/no cost
models of self-help characterised by volunteerism, in its bid to set
examples of replicable models to bridge the gap in social service
delivery for older persons in rural Moldova.
The learning from localised actions is being accumulated with the intention to promote information sharing, through publication of reports, quarterly newsletters, holding events and conferences and most importantly by revising the best practices manual.
The project has 12 implementing CBOs and Initiative Groups with equal numbers of community groups, lead by two partner NGOs, Second Breath in the North, and Rural Social Initiative in the South. This project is jointly funded by the European Union TACIS Institution Building Partnership Programme (IBPP) and Irish Aid.
PO Box 32832 57/1
London, N1 9 ZN, UK
Tel: + 44 2072787778
Fax : + 442077137993
Banulescu Bodoni Street,
UK Chisinau, Moldova
Tel: + 373 22 225098
Fax : - 373 22 224672
Photo 1 - Project team during a seminar in June 2006
Photo 2 - The first meeting of older people support group in Frumusica, Leova
Photo 3 - Training workshop "Advocacy/Lobbying, Fundraising", January 2006
Photo 4 - "Training of Trainers" workshop, June 2006
Photo 5 - Home-care visit, Tecla Chistol and Maria Sofronovici, Satul Nou, Cimislia
Photo 6 - Warm House, Lapusna, Hincesti
Photo 7 - Rabbit rearing, Valentina Carchelan, Organisation of Veterans, Iaoloveni.