Ialoveni, Moldova - A Religious Youth Service project on the theme of “Youth of faith build peace by practice of love and service” was held from August 5 till 12’th in Ialoveni.
RYS main sponsor was Universal Peace Federation. Main host organization and organazier in Moldova was Asociatia Internationala pentru Educatie din Republica Moldova.
It was first RYS project in the History of Moldova were representatives of different churches and faiths came together, worked together and learned from each other.
It wasn’t easy to mobilize people to commit themselves for eight days. This is more challenging than just attend a conference or round table discussions.
Nevertheless fourteen participants from United States, Uzbekistan, Moldova, and Russia came together to live and work as an interfaith and international community; they represented Moldovan Orthodox Christianity, Baptist Christianity, Mormon Church as well as Islam and the Unification faith.
Trainings, presentations, readings, group discussions, work activities, visits, sightseeing, reflection, and spiritual practices were combined to provide insights into the culture, life, and faith of the people of Moldova.
Participants trough the whole program learned about unique elements of RYS and experienced with all their spiritual and physical senses the spirit of being “One family under God.” During the entire project, volunteers sincerely practiced their common belief that “the change start with me and we are the change, and with each small step our dreams become true and real”.
First three days main activity was cleaning the site of the Geriatric Services Center in Vasieni village, located in Ialoveni region. In deed working together overcoming challenges of 37-40 Celsius degree hot weather created invisible bonds of friendship and mutual support. Volunteers also participated in ecological activities in the park near Vasieni.
Geriatric Center staff and beneficiaries were very surprised and moved by the fact that such diverse group could come together and work as no one ever worked, with enthusiasm and dedication. After the project the director of NGO “ACASA” Mrs. Felicia Cretu shared with volunteers her vision about future of this Geriatric Services Center, and expressed her gratitude for the help we provided. She shared with us very moving and sad stories of old people that raised many children but ended up by being forgotten and lonely, but nevertheless never stop dreaming.
We had a special friend that worked with us all day long, young 5 years horse called “Star”, she was caring all the trash to the near by dumpster. In the fourth day, after 3 intensive work days, we had more relaxed morning schedule and each volunteer had first time in their life experience to ride horse. After words we clamed on the hill near by, that opened in front of our eyes a breath taking scenery, this was really blessed place were words of gratitude flowed from our hearts to our Heavenly Parent. In this genuine communication with creation volunteers could experience the love of our Creator God.
We visited a Synagogue, a Mosque, an Orthodox church, an Lutheran church, an Catholic church, and Mormon Church to learn from religious leaders about the relevance of a religious life, religious traditions, and the impact that people of all faiths are making in peace building.
Volunteers visited Orheiul Vechi most ancient holy site of Moldova with unique stone carved Orthodox church and monastery with impressive picturesque scenery of the Raut river that is carving its way for thousands of years into the rock bottom of millennial Sarmatic Sea, and hiding on its banks a rich archeological inheritance and testimony of very active spiritual, social, cultural, economical life trough the centuries.
The educational program was organized to provide experiential learning and to stimulate thought in the following realms: insight into world religions, education for global citizenship (conflict prevention and resolution, promoting a culture of peace), and becoming peace builders.
Throughout the program, many volunteers expanded their understanding of themselves and others and gained experience as "Youth Ambassadors for Peace." In their commitment letters on the final day, they expressed determination to organize peace-promoting activities with diverse people in the future.
In the sixth day of the project, volunteers met representatives of the local administration of Ialoveni region, Department of Family and Social Assistance that served as connection with Geriatric Center in Vasieni. Mr. Gore, is main person working with many NGO’s and Churches at Ialoveni Local Administration Office and connecting the resources with an increasing demands and challenges of unprivileged elders and kids from broken families in his region.
In Vasieni village and in every holy site we visited during the program, RYS volunteers planted seeds to transform locals communities into communities of peace and uplift a culture of service. The project was small but with big potential for growth and transformation in the future, to create in Moldova more healthy atmosphere for cooperation among different faiths coexisting in Moldova. Volunteers gained experiences which will be helpful in daily life as well as in their professional activities. Each volunteer gained confidence and inherited the dream of one family under God! The time for change is Now! We are the change! We are the hope! We are the future!
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