By Kulsoom Rizvi
When Moldova became independent in 1991, the government faced an economic crisis and only funded programs deemed essential. This left scarce funding for early education, which led to many educational institutions falling into disrepair.
One of those schools was Kindergarten #183 in Buiucani District, roughly 20 km northwest of the Moldovan capital. It was one of the first educational institutions in the community, founded over two decades ago. At that time, construction materials were limited and the school’s staff did what they could with the little they had on hand – cutting and twisting pipes to create faucets, for example.
Since then, the school’s kitchen has been untouched. Cracked, moldy walls and constant flooding in the basement created unhealthy conditions, below even basic hygienic and sanitary standards. Making matters worse, the old ventilation system was extremely noisy and disrupted the children during their learning.
That’s all changed now.
Through Counterpart’s Small Reconstruction Project (SRP), the school underwent a $15,000 renovation to its kitchen facility, food storage facility and entrance hall, impacting more than 400 children, age 2-7, who attend the school each day.
“The completion of this infrastructure reconstruction project will lead to improved health outcomes and increased educational attainment for the children at this kindergarten for many years to come,” Rang Hee Kim, Director of Humanitarian Assistance at Counterpart said.
The opening of the newly renovated kitchen was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony where guests included William H. Moser, the U.S. Ambassador of Moldova; Ms. Tverdohleb, the Director of Education Department in the Municipality of Chisinau; and hundreds of smiling children and their families, dancing and singing. The ceremony captured the attention of the local media, with four TV channels covering the event live.
Ana Teaca, who is the Director of Kindergarten #183, said one of her dreams was to create a safer and healthier environment for the children and now feels that they have accomplished that goal with the support of Counterpart.
(L to R) Ana Teaca, Director of Kindergarten #183, Walter Kneib, Country Co-Director for Humanitarian Services, Latter-day Saints Charities; and William H. Moser, Ambassador of the United States to the Republic of Moldova at the ribbon ceremony for the opening of Kindergarten #183’s newly renovated kitchen. © Elena Zandelova/Counterpart International
“The greatest gift in my life is these children who are coming every year to this school. Dedicating my work to them is my mission in life,” said Teaca, who has been the Director since 1990.
Renovations included repairing and repainting the walls and ceilings of all four rooms, assisted by volunteers, replacing and evening the floor titles, installing a modern ventilation and electrical system and completely renewing the pipes, faucets and sinks.
“This is not only a renovated kitchen, but an improvement in these children’s health and well-being which will benefit many generations to come,” Vladimir Cerbov, Country Program Director in Moldova said.
Children will now also have access to improved drinking water and properly prepared food, which will result in better health and educational outcomes. The completed project also impacted 10 kitchen staff who are now able to work in a safe environment.
The Latter-day Saints Charities (LDSC) donated a bread cutter and oven to the school and also brought in volunteers to help repaint all the walls. Counterpart has collaborated with LDSC since it began its activities in Moldova in 1998. It’s the partnerships, Cerbov said, that led to success of the project.
Counterpart International’s Humanitarian Assistance Small Reconstruction Projects (SRPs) are geared to address urgent humanitarian issues and improve the standard of living for communities.
The projects are funded by the U.S. Department of State, Office of the Coordinator of U.S. Assistance to Europe and Eurasia (EUR/ACE) and implemented by Counterpart’s Community and Humanitarian Assistance Program (CHAP).
Since 2006, Counterpart has completed 113 small reconstruction projects in former Soviet countries. Ten of these SRPs were completed in Moldova with reconstruction works valued at over $220,000.