Over 70 people — teachers from all over the country, representatives of district education directorates, representatives of the European Union, the Council of Europe, UNICEF, Terre des hommes Moldova and the Institute for Rural Initiatives — participated, on 28 November, in a National Conference to present good practices on developing community initiatives to enforce the rights of children and young people belonging to different ethnic groups in Moldova.
Teachers and school directors from 20 communities around the country shared their experience in working with children and parents at the event, and talked about their achievements on countering the discrimination of minorities, promoting the spirit of tolerance and equal opportunities among children and youth. They also discussed lessons learned and future plans.
Marco Gemmer, Head of Operations from the European Union Delegation in Moldova, was impressed by the work undertaken in communities to overcome the stereotypes and biases they face. The EU representative mentioned that non-discrimination is one of the core European values, and local projects targeting this issue will be further funded. ‘When you see children working together to overcome challenges and prejudices, this is exactly why we are doing it (the funding), because children now have a chance to grow up as adults without stereotypes and without thinking in stigmas.’
Teodora Rebeja, programme manager at Tdh Moldova, thanked participants for ‘the courage to get involved in preventing the discrimination, for the courage to do something at the community level, for mobilizing the whole community towards solving the problems’.
The community initiatives implemented by teachers, children, parents, local public authorities and NGOs included: training activities, parenting workshops, peer-to-peer activities, thematic city quizzes and flash mobs, ethnic festivals, and roundtables and debates on children's rights and tolerance, diversity, non-discrimination, gender equality, etc.
Valentina Miron, a teacher at a school in the south of the country presented an interesting initiative —establishing a toy library at a school where children did not have a suitable area for recreational activities. ‘The most important thing was the establishment of the toy library - it is something unique for the Southern zone, I have not heard that a toy library was set up in any other school in our district. Now, children from the village have the opportunity to recreate, play, create something beautiful and even parents participate in the activities’, Ms Miron said.
Another special activity mentioned was the summer camp for 50 children from socially vulnerable families from another village in southern Moldova. Nadejda Dobândă, principal of the local high school and a veteran of the scout movement in Moldova, put forward the idea of a summer tent camp in the forest. Ms Dobândă listed an impressive number of activities that children enjoyed in the camp, as well as the numerous responsibilities and intense preparation required to organize such a camp.
We ensured the children’s safety and this is the most important thing: all children returned home happy and healthy. There was one thing we didn’t manage to do – we did not succeed to organize the official closing of the camp, because of a heavy rain. We couldn't even get out of the forest. Therefore, I called 112. They came and got us out. So, we left without an official closing, but we were pleasantly surprised that we resisted - it was also an endurance test.
Ludmila Scobioală, a primary school teacher in the north of the country, also conducted a unique activity: she taught second grade students and their parents about children’s rights in a creative workshop, during which they developed a guide that explains children's rights through their own thoughts, drawings, applications and poems. The high school administration printed 100 copies of the booklet, ‘I know my rights’, and donated the guide to the town’s libraries, schools and kindergartens. ‘Parents were surprised by this activity, because they are used to attending standard meetings, but here they had the opportunity to communicate and work with their children. They made a product that each of them was proud to present’, explained Scobioală.
At the end of the meeting, Elena Madan, director of Tdh Moldova, thanked everyone for participating and invited them to continue their actions: ‘I encourage you to further continue, not to stop, take actions in your community, in your school, no matter how small they are, follow up what you have learned and achieved so far’.
The National Conference on presenting good non-discrimination practices was organized by Terre des hommes Moldova Foundation, with the support of the Child Protection Hub - ChildHub and the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Moldova.