Impoverished parts of north rural Moldova face more than just one problem. The under-developed pre-school infrastructure is one of the biggest that the Joint Integrated Local Development Programme of the Government of Moldova (JILDP) and UN Women found in the communities of Hincauti and Cioresti. But when addressing this issue another fundamental, critical one, arose: the access of families with different ethnic and religious backgrounds was one of the key human rights and gender concerns.
When the JILDP started to work in this area it soon became obvious that the first step was the building of a greater acknowledgement of this issue by the local public authorities and men and women of these communities.
Cioresti and Hincauti are around 70 kilometers away from Chisinau, capital of Moldova. Their educational infrastructure was severely damaged or it was non existing by the end of the communist era. This situation leads to women heavily relying on their husbands for financial security due to the under-developed pre-school infrastructure forcing them to stay home with their children. So, a “no school for children-no job for women” situation was hitting both communities and was especially difficult for children from poor, single-parent and many families with different ethnic and religious backgrounds.
The involvement of the communities was key to a successful transformation of Cioresti and Hincauti kindergarden and pre-school infrastructure. The JILDP Programme helped form a initiative group consisting of parents and kindergarden teachers to advocate for addressing the situation and including it in the Cioresti and Hincauti Local Socio-Economic Strategies as one of the community development priorities.
Supported by social workers and other community members, the initiative group developed a project proposal on re-arrangement and renovation of the kindergarden building. Development of the project proposal represented a wide consultative and participatory process at local level and involved community members, local public authorities and public institutions. Once approved by the community, the proposal received financial support of the Joint Integrated Local Development Programme.
The results are now visible: thirty three children from vulnerable families, including 8 children with mental and physical disabilities, 19 children coming from large families and 6 from single-parent families, received access to the kindergarden, thus being able to exercise their right to education.
Though the kindergarden extension was accomplished less than a month ago, 10 out of 33 mothers, who had been staying at home and taking care of their children, managed to find jobs in Cioresti village and Nisporeni town.
With more and better schools for all regardless of their beliefs or ethnicity, the Cioresti and Hincauti communities have proven that small changes make big results and that shared societies are the investment in future and hope.