September 2018, I went to Moldova on a European Voluntary Service out of curiosity. I went somewhere to which I would never have ventured, I worked in an international organization (glimpsing some of the realities of foreign aid) and I familiarised myself with a culture I wouldn’t have known of or grown fond of.
Moldova is a small landlocked country between Romania and Ukraine. Rich farmlands and deep wine caverns. Plurilingual, split identity, biting winters, and burning summers. Active civil society and oligarchic puppeteers. I’d heard about the mass emigration and it was described as the poorest country in Europe. But I’d also heard wonderful things about the country.
There are two sides to every coin. My word count here is limited, so you’ll have to wait for an extended blog in January but to sum up in a few sentences… Going to Moldova on EVS reinforced that:
Migration is never a choice taken lightly.
You can find (extra)ordinary community in some difficult, but beautiful places.
Knowledge of local language and a smile will always come in handy.
Chișinău, Republica Moldova / кишинев, Республика Молдова
There I was sitting on a bench in Paris.
No this isn’t the start of a romantic comedy. Rather it’s the end of a fantastic and hell of emotional year as an EVS volunteer in the Republic of Moldova. Start from the end or the beginning? Doamne ferește! Oh my God!
Paris, July 2019
I asked the woman if she was from Moldova. She looked at me like I had two heads. I continued speaking in Romanian and I asked her what she was doing in Paris. She was working. Where? Cleaning in various hotels, had been for years. Working illegally mostly. She doesn’t say it, but her description says enough.
‘How do you find it here in France?’
The floodgates opened on a story of labour exploitation, estrangement from loved ones and the loss of a beloved homeland. Țara ei. Her country.
Her story went from the mundane to the deep. Were her neighbours gossiping about her? … Did her family remember her? She was sitting there and sobbing. I nodded my head; I stroked her hand.
What are the chances that you sit on that one bench in that one Parisian park and there next to you is that one Moldovan?
Mulțumesc/Thank you EVS & UNA Exchange for making my adventure in Moldova possible!