Planting trees in Rîșcova

Day 114 – In order to take a break from the topics we cover in our projects and also to broaden our horizons in another area of ​​interest, me and my French flatmate signed up for a three-day workshop about planting trees Seed It Forward. We were lucky enough that the local organization EcoVisio gave us the chance to participate and we spent past three days in an environmental Eco-Village Moldova located in the picturesque village of Rîşcova. Thanks to the experienced team, the program was really busy and together with the other participants we really appreciated that we could use our new knowledge immediately in practice.

I have already mentioned the topic of ecology in Moldova a few times in my Facebook posts and I am more than aware that finding common ground or understanding from others on ecological topics is often not easy at all here. So what I would like to highlight from the whole seminar is that I was really pleasantly surprised how many enthusiastic and motivated young people had an interest in environmental topics. The final debate stuck in my head – some of the participants mentioned how sorry they are about the situation that many citizens are leaving their country and that’s why the long-term sustainability of the local environment and of Moldova as such is a truly important priority for them.

I would like to really thank all participants for these three days and all those who really care about what’s happening around them!

And once again great thanks to all those who were able to translate into English or Russian for me (as I was the only participant who did not understand Romanian). Until now, I have never felt as a prominent foreign ambassador at an international conference who has the privilege of individual simultaneous translation by whispering to my ear. The perfect, at least bilingual knowledge of the vast majority of Moldovan people still surprises me.

Living in Porțile Orașului

Day 108“Wow, do you live exactly in Porțile Orașului? Aren’t you afraid? “

“No. Why?”

“There are a lot of scary stories about those houses.”

“Well, really thanks for telling me but I luckily don’t know any of them… And I think I’d rather not even know any.”

I should say that this house has taught us a lot so far. For example:

Be prepared – to always have a dry shampoo at home. Not because you are lazy, but because when you least expect it, water stop working.

Be flexible – until now we have been completely without hot water so the kettle wasn’t used only for making a tea.

Be multifunctional – have a phone not only in case when you get stuck in the elevator, but also for being able to have some light in the corridor where is no lamp.

Be tolerant – to listen to your drunk neighbor singing and playing the guitar in front of your door and then quietly put some cotton swabs to the doorbell in order to minimize its ringing. Your neighbor can ring as long as he wants and you can sleep without disturbance. Win-win.

Be patient and don’t give up – if you kill ten mosquitoes in your room during one night, it does not really mean that you have killed them all.

But those views! Those views from the 15th floor of Porţile Oraşului (“The City Gates”) are amazing and really worth it. 😍

You, Europeans

Day 105 – The European Union is a big topic in Moldova and I should say that sentences from locals such as “there in Europe…” or “you, Europeans…” still surprise me.

I remember that on my first ERASMUS + project, we laughed at the question “Do you feel more like a European now?”. And had no idea how to answer it. Because I never really understood what it meant to feel like a “European”. And that until I came to Moldova and started working with refugees…

I definitely don’t want to share only the positive moments and I think it’s more than fair to admit that I don’t have unlimited strength and energy all the time. Like every human being.

I often hear all sorts of life stories here, and thanks to the focus of my work, they are unfortunately mostly negative stories. Because of this reason, I should work even harder to keep myself motivated and believe in what I am doing. Is it a paradox that the people I work with are also my biggest motivation?

“Ooh, I’m so happy to see you again, how are you? My daughter is sending greetings to you!”

“My boys were asking about you. They are so looking forward to seeing you tomorrow!”

“Thank you so much for everything you are doing for us. You are a great help!”

Tell me… who wouldn’t be happy thanks to these words? 🙂

The past two days were honestly really mentally challenging for me. Together with staff from UNHCR Budapest, I had the opportunity to hear about the life situation and current problems faced by refugees and asylum seekers from countries such as Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Syria, Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sudan, Ukraine, and Russia.

So while drinking a tea with some of them at their “homes”, I only reaffirmed how some of us don’t even realize how lucky we are compared to some other people.

Thanks to those who believe in cooperation more than the competition!

Mileștii Mici

Day 100 – What can’t be missed during Moldovan cultural events? In addition to at least one argument in the Romanian language, one argument in the Russian language, a scramble before getting in to the marshrutka and confused faces of foreigners after finding out that nothing is offered on the spot in English, as it was promised in the program, it’s also typical folk dance and delicious local wine 🍷.

This weekend is dedicated to the wine festivities and I used the opportunity to visit one of the main winery – Mileștii Mici. The wine cellars, about 200 kilometers long, hide more than 1.5 million bottles (full!), and that’s the reason why they are listed even in the Guinness Book of Records. It’s quite easy to find Moldovan wines in the Czech Republic, so it’s more than possible that some Czechs have more knowledge about Moldovan wines than about Moldova itself 😅.

Trip to Ukraine

Day 93 – An example of the advantage of volunteering in Moldova is also that we had the opportunity to go to the EVS training abroad. With volunteers from Ukraine and Belarus we spent together a couple of days in western Ukraine in the ski resort Slavske. Although the trainers did a great job, given that I have been working in the field of non-formal education and the Erasmus+ program for some time now, the training itself was honestly not as beneficial for me as the opportunity to get to know new places in Ukraine. We spent more than thirty hours in marshrutkas and night trains, and along the way we also planned a visit to the cities of Odessa and Lviv.

While traveling, I really enjoyed how people had absolutely clear idea about where we were from…

A man, Odessa: “Can you please tell me which tram is going to the city center?” “Where are you from? Czechia? Aah, you’re those little Germans, you need to have everything planned!”

Ivan with The Czech Republic T-shirts, Slavske: “You have a nice T-shirt. I’m from the Czech Republic.” “Thanks, it’s almost Ukraine! So we need to drink because of this meeting, vodka!”

A woman from Chisinau in marshrutka: “You speak very nicely, I like your Bulgarian accent. Here you have some apples from the garden.”

A local mountain lover, Slavske: “I know you have a great winter in Canada, but believe me, it’s also quite cold here in the winter!”

Border control: “What’s your name? Alena? Hm… that’s really typical Russian name! Do you have a residence permit?”

I have said this sentence several times already, but I need to mention it again – it’s really worth to visit Ukraine!

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