Not only does Link to Hope give aid but it also seeks to support micro enterprises that can generate funds to support social care projects.
Sărata-Răzeşi is a remote village in the Leova region of Moldova, with a population of 1400. Moldova is the poorest country in Europe, with many social problems which are especially evident in rural villages where there is little infrastructure (no running water, dirt roads, no gas etc.) and where more than a quarter of the working-age population has left to seek work abroad. Unemployment in rural villages stands at 70- 80% with very few jobs available. Because young people are leaving to find work elsewhere, the poorest and the elderly are left behind – those who are least able to care for themselves. The state is unable to provide much financial or practical support.
In response to this dire situation, a canteen was established in Spring 2012 by a new village charity called “Proiecte Sociale Sărata-Răzeşi,” which now feeds 30 people in need: these are typically widows, childless elderly couples or disabled people. We have a very close working relationship with this charity, having so far offered practical and accounting advice as well as limited financial support (e.g. buying thermos flasks for meals which are delivered). Proiecte Sociale is highly dependent on receiving a small monthly donation from an Austrian charity. These funds are sufficient only for one course of food (compared to two courses at Dancu and elsewhere), and there isn’t enough money for these meals to include meat – nor for more than 30 villagers to be fed, despite there being considerable need.
We have helped Proiecte Sociale to operate more sustainably and more independently in the longer term, and empower them to help more of the most vulnerable in the community, and with more nutritious meals too.
We have done this by helping them to increase their capacity by installing a polytunnels. This now:-
- provide additional food for the canteen (vegetables such as tomatoes and cucumbers)
- generate additional income through selling c.40% of produce at a local market
- have created between 2 and 4 much-needed part-time jobs for local people in Sărata-Răzeşi.
We have an excellent working relationship with the local mayor and town hall, who have offered us free land and for this social project. As Phase 1 was installing one polytunnel measuring 24m x 6m. This was constructed within 2 weeks. Installing the polytunnel required a one-off investment, after which Proiecte Sociale have both more food and more income on an ongoing basis. This income has been used to increase the number of elderly people fed, and to provide a general budget for other social projects they are keen to start.
Phase 2 would involve installing a second polytunnel, thereby further increasing sustainability and capacity, in order to reach all 50 elderly people who have been identified as in extreme need (below the poverty line). This second polytunnel would also allow for diversification of crops.