Archives for the month of: May, 2012

One thing I have learned in Moldova is that we, Americans, cannot possibly imagine what the average person in a former Soviet nation has been through.  One day, a little over 20 years ago, our host family here in Moldova had their lives turned upside down by the destruction of the Soviet Union –something that most in the U.S. laud as a great victory.  At the time our hosts were about 40 years old and working in public service positions.  Suddenly the Rubles they had been putting away in the bank for 20 years were worthless.  They didn’t get paid for over six months.  They along with their newly sovereign nation were thrown into a market economy that they didn’t understand.

Today in the villages, most people still don’t understand the market economy or business, nor do they understand or trust banks.  The school director and I decided to plan and implement a project to address the lack of practical business education in our local school and hopefully improve the situation that Moldova was left in 20 years ago.

With that dramatic introduction, throughout this project we created a business club for high school students and built a greenhouse for them to operate as a business.  The business club gave students a chance to learn how to start a business and then create a business plan.  They then used that business plan to operate the greenhouse as a real business.  The greenhouse further served a second educational purpose in that is has given “technology” students a chance to actually see and practice proper agricultural techniques.

To my disappointment, the business club was only comprised of boys, but I still hope that some girls will get involved in the fall.  The club met each week and learned about various different parts of a business plan, then prepared their own business.  As part of the grant we won for the project, we were able to buy a computer for the students to use as they researched and prepared their plan.  While the business club was doing their thing, the school principal was directing the construction of our greenhouse.

We planned and built 200 meter² greenhouse on school property.  The greenhouse is located next to the school’s boiler room for ease of tapping into the school’s heating system.  This will allow earlier and later harvests.  We also installed a large water tank to feed the greenhouse’s drip irrigation system.  Because we decided to construct the greenhouse ourselves, the process was much slower than I wanted it to be.  However, the end result is great.  We have a quality greenhouse that will last for many years.

Unfortunately we will not be here to see the full harvest, but currently peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers are doing incredibly well.  I am confident that they will have a good harvest and be profitable this spring.  Finally, one great part about this project is that it is very sustainable.  The school and business club will continue to operate the greenhouse and use profits from it to sustain the business and improve the school.  I am hopeful that students can learn business skills for years to come.

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I’ll start with this: Words cannot describe how happy I am to be done with this project.

Now I’ll start from the beginning. In May of 2011, my nurse partners O and M, and I started the process of writing a grant to get running water, sewer, and an indoor bathroom for the village medical center. There are several reasons why this hadn’t been done yet, but it basically boils down to money and priorities. During the planning stages of the project we met with the regional director of all the family medical offices to make sure their budget could support maintenance costs (cleaning the septic tank) and the likely increase in water bills. She approved our plans and we started on our way. The medical center operates on the second floor of the building, but water only comes into the first floor, and there is not outgoing plumbing installed whatsoever, so the custodian (a small woman in her 60’s) had to manually carry the water up and down the stairs in buckets several times a day. The outhouse was dangerous, disgusting, and not useable, so the closest toilet facilities were 100 meters down the road.

First we wrote a grant (with a lot of help from Curt) in the hopes of working with LDS Charities. Two humanitarian missionaries came out to look at the center and to discuss plans. These missionaries were leaving in August, so we had to finish the project by then. No problem, right? Unfortunately we ran into several issues, mostly because key members of our team did not do what they said they would do, and we were not able to make that deadline. So we lost $4000 in funding.

Then during the fall we wrote a grant to the Norwegian Embassy which was quite a stretch because they were requesting civil society grants. Needless to say, we were not accepted.

During the winter 2012 we wrote a grant to the Small Project Assistance program funded by USAID, and after some minor issues we received funding! We also received funding from LDS Charities, the regional Family medical office in Nisporeni, and the local mayor’s office!

Work began at the end of March.

They first started by installing all the outgoing plumbing in the walls and under the floors, all leading to the septic tank they dug out and cemented in the front of the center. Then they installed the hot and cold water pipes. Then they tiled the bathroom, repaired the electricity, installed the boiler, five sinks and one toilet. And finally the fence was put up.

When the construction crew finally finished (after much needed encouragement on my part), the nurses all got to work on painting and refinishing everything to make it look like new. I don’t know how many times I tried to help, but for some reason they just would let me. I managed to grab a scraper and work for an hour before I was kicked out. They said they felt uncomfortable with me doing that kind of work.

And finally on Monday, May 28 we had our Reopening with a ribbon cutting ceremony and everything! (Yes, a very short ribbon, but I didn’t have anything else) At least one representative from each of our collaborators came to celebrate. We prepared a celebratory lunch so we could eat and drink to our health.

Receiving/Triage Room

Gynecological Room. I didn’t get a picture of it, but there is a sink there now.

Procedure Room

Pofta Bună!

Before and After

The education piece of this project was conducted by my nurse school partner A and myself. We did a nutrition and sanitation health campaign at the school that followed the same format as our anti-smoking campaign last year. The students learned about the topics by participating in lessons and school-wide weekly competitions. Students earned tickets for their participation that could be used at the project-end carnival on May 4. A special thank you to:

  • Kesli and Ry-dog for donating some awesome prizes for the carnival
  • Elder and Sister McGovern for all your help with this project
  • Zacharia for being my advocate on the SPA committee
  • All the school staff for their participation in lessons, time spent judging competitions, and willingness to work carnival booths
  • Matt and Brynn, Sam and Brittany, Sarah and Travis, and Matt and Cristy and Zach for coming out to run the carnival booths
  • Shannon for donating 288 toothbrushes
  • Curt for always being on my side and for being a perfect husband. Loves.