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Stories from diaspora// Alexandrina Robu-Cepoi: “Be the change you want to see in the world and don’t hesitate to act immediately!”

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Since she was a teenager, Alexandrina has been involved in various social, educational, economic and cultural projects. She is currently working in Brussels as a Board Member and the Chair of the Women Committee within JEUNE – the Young Entrepreneurs Organization of the European Union, while writing her PhD thesis. Alexandrina Robu-Cepoi is the next protagonist of the “Stories from diaspora” series.

About opportunities

Alexandrina thinks that every person can achieve anything by being perseverant, ambitious, determined and by making the necessary effort for that. “Each of us has thousands of opportunities in his life. The difference is in the ability to recognize them and to fully exploit them.” Alexandrina is the person who seizes the opportunities and turns them into reality.

“When the opportunities are bigger than what I think I can cope with, I get out of my comfort zone and become better. Many of these lessons I learned during the one-year exchange I did in Brazil.”

When she was just 17 years old, Alexandrina won a scholarship for studying in Brazil – a totally new country for her, as she had zero knowledge regarding its culture or language at that moment. Still, she managed to quickly familiarize herself with the new environment and made a lot of friends there. “I learned to be flexible. This ability always helped me,” says Alexandrina.

About her life ‘momentum’

Our protagonist is passioned about the energy sector, international policies and entrepreneurship. In fact, she managed to perfectly blend them together through her activity. “My passion for the energy field has materialized five years ago when I became the executive manager of the Employers Association in the Energy Center of the Republic of Moldova. It began, though, during my flight to Brazil when I met an energy expert who told me with great passion about his field of activity. It was the moment when I realized I was interested in working in this sector.”

Alexandrina already had several jobs in Brussels and all of them were related to energy, international politics and entrepreneurship, as she was working in lobbying associations. “The latest project I was involved in along with my colleagues from Central Europe Energy Partners is the Central Europe Energy Day. There, the Vice-President of the European Commission, Members of the European Parliament, representatives of companies from the energy sector and other interested persons were present. This kind of projects have a great impact on EU policies and will be also organized in the future,” proudly claims Alexandrina.

In her spare time, she likes to travel. The last country she visited was Thailand. “I really love to discover new cultures, traditions, places and people. Traveling helps me find myself, express my feelings and fill my soul with positive energy. Thailand really impressed me with its landscape, culinary traditions and its vast culture. I would like to visit all the continents until the end of my life.”

About crucial decisions

Alexandrina is belonging to the category of young people who make changes, not just wait for them. In the past, Alexandrina was the President of the Rotaract Club from Chișinău. Afterwards, she earned a scholarship for studying at the College of Europe in Natolin for one year. Besides her studies, she was again involved in various projects, including the establishment of the Rotaract Club in Poland.

“I had a great experience at the College of Europe. It was a very intense year, with many challenges and successes as well. I gave priority to studies but I also interacted with young people from 32 countries, I made very good friends, I was introduced to new cultures and had the chance to present my culture.” The College is famous for its strict and busy program.

“It is like a Spartan battle where the most powerful and well-organized people win. It is a lifetime experience.”

Still, the decision to study at the College of Europe in Natolin came to a cost. Alexandrina had to take a hard decision regarding her future actions. “The news that I was accepted at the College of Europe came right after I was hired for the position of assistant and non-key energy expert at the EU High Level Advisory Mission to the Republic of Moldova. It was a difficult decision. I asked for advice from several people, including the college graduates. I was advised to choose the studies and I am really grateful for that. The College of Europe was the ‘business card’ for my future experience in Brussels,” recalls Alexandrina.

About JEUNE

Currently, Alexandrina is managing the Women Committee of the EU Young Entrepreneurs Organization JEUNE, which is one of the largest profile organisations with more than one million members in the EU and neighbouring countries.

When talking about the path to reaching such a position, Alexandrina mentioned that she first had became a member of the JEUNE Organization and after 4 year of hard work she was entrusted with the Chair of the Women Committee mandate. “I was the President of the European Association of Young Entrepreneurs from Moldova, established under the patronage of the EU Delegation in Moldova, when I filed an application for joining JEUNE. Later I became a member of the Board of Directors and the Chair of the Women Committee, as from this position I could support more the young female entrepreneurs and help them make their voice heard in the European Institutions.”

About ‘changing the world’ home

Alexandrina comes home as often as she can to see her family, to observe the changes that occurred while she was absent and to eat her favourite homemade chicken soup. “Our origins are the places where we were born, where we find spiritual balance. For me, they are the places where I grew up – the house of my parents and my grandparents. Our roots are also represented by the wonderful people who served as a role model and have transmitted their values to us. So ​​that in the good and bad moments, the family is what makes us rediscover our capacities and believe we can overcome any obstacle,” she says.

Alexandrina always talks about Moldova and tries to present it in the best light.

“Now we have hard times, but the political situation can’t ruin the country’s incomparable and wild beauty.”

When comparing the people from western and eastern Europe, Alexandrina believes that “sometimes, westerners are more favoured but we, easterners, are fighters, having a lot of courage.” She says that there is a big difference in mentality between Easterners and Westerners: from the way they treat their jobs to the way they trust politicians. But in the same time, “both sides have their pluses and minuses.

Furthermore, Alexandrina thinks that each Moldovan citizen can make a change. “I am sure that each of us, whether living in Moldova or in diaspora, can change things for the better in our country. I’m trying to implement at least one project per year in Moldova. Even if it’s very hard to manage it remotely, I’m making this effort because I care about my country and I want to contribute to its modernization.”

Alexandrina thinks that it’s not easy to change the people’s mentality, “but if you inform them correctly and show them examples of how to do things in a more efficient way, perhaps they would make the right choices themselves next time.” Alexandrina provides her own example of how to change the people’s mentality: “The last project we implemented in Moldova was the Diaspora Business Academy for young female entrepreneurs where we talked to 30 young women about the best managerial practices. We have also tried to foster economic relations between Moldovan and foreign entrepreneurs.”

Alexandrina is a great dreamer and an optimistic person. She always sees the light at the end of the tunnel and tries to guide others to it as well. Even though she talks less about her goals and dreams publicly, she plans to come back home and contribute to the development of her homeland.

Photos: Facebook| personal profile

Society

How much alcohol do Moldovans consume? The repercussions and solutions of this problem

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The Republic of Moldova is one of the few countries in this world that celebrates the “National Wine Day”. The celebration is organised every year on first weekend of October. Thousands of people gather, at that time, in the city centre of Chișinău to taste newly appeared on the market, as well as popular types of wine produced by wineries from all over the country. The fete of 2019 hosted 68 wine producers.

At the same time, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global status Report on Alcohol and Health for 2018 says that Moldova has the highest levels of alcohol consumption per capita in the world. Even though the trend of alcohol consumption in Moldova is decreasing, as it dropped from 21.6 litres per capita in 2005 to 15.1 litres per capita in 2016 for persons over 15 years, that still does not remove it from this top.

According to the report, Moldovans mostly drink wine – 57% of their consumption is represented by wine, followed by 25% spirits and 16% beer.

Alcohol and health

It is not as important to analyse the quantity of the drunk alcohol, as the way it is consumed and the effects on the population. Therefore, the same WHO report states that, in 2016, 1907 persons out 100 000 died of liver cirrhosis, 188 out of 100 000 died of road traffic injuries and 799 out of 100 000 died of cancer. According to national statistics, there were also recorded 3.5 deaths per 100,000 people caused by alcohol intoxication in 2016.

source: time.com

Alcohol is the cause of over 200 different diseases, including: neuropsychiatric disorders (epilepsy, depression, anxiety), digestive disorders (alcoholic liver cirrhosis, acute and chronic pancreatitis, alcoholic gastropathy), cancers (of the digestive tract and breast) or cardiovascular diseases (ischaemic, hemorrhagic, hypertension). Sexual dysfunctions are also very common – impotence for men and frigidity for women. When consuming an excessive amount of alcohol, the general tone of the body decreases, the interests, the goals in life disappear.

Alcohol abuse by pregnant women presents an essential danger to the unborn child. When a pregnant woman drinks, alcohol is accumulated in the fetus’s body. The toxic effect is extremely high during intrauterine development, causing irreversible damage to the central nervous system of fetus: neurons do not develop properly, some cells are destroyed, others develop abnormally, as Ministry of Health is warning.

Alcohol and teenagers

Young people alcohol consumption is another alarming phenomenon in the Moldovan society. The data (the 2015 ESPAD Report) shows that, in Moldova, 82% of pupils in 8th and 9th grades have consumed alcohol at least once in their lifetime. About 9% of them declared that they already suffered an alcohol intoxication.

Alcohol and drivers

This year, traffic police officers discovered 3751 cases of drunk drivers. Because of drunk drivers, 30 people lost their lives on the country’s roads, and 134 suffered traumas. According to the National Patrol Inspectorate, the information campaigns, operations and sanctions applied by the police seem to be ignored by the drivers, which endanger the safety in road traffic.

source: politia.md

Alcohol and violence

In addition to the impact on health and high risk of causing traumas, the excessive alcohol consumption may have dramatic social consequences, such as relational problems (deterioration of family relationships, separation, divorce, abuse and neglect of children), loss of friends, material difficulties, loss of work, loss of home, social exclusion, legal issues (fines, imprisonment), inappropriate sexual behaviour (unprotected sex, rape, unwanted pregnancy), etc.

According to the WHO report, men consume 4 times more alcohol than women. Therefore, the consumption of alcoholic beverages increases the risk of domestic violence, especially towards women.

A report from 2011 on violence against women in the Republic of Moldova shows that 79% of respondents consider excessive alcohol consumption to be the main cause of domestic violence and a share of 38.7% of women in Moldova are victims of physical violence because of their consuming alcohol husband, whereas 50,4% of women are victims of sexual violence. Even though the data may be a bit outdated and the situation could have been improved in the meantime, the numbers are more than alarming.

Identified solutions

Moldova has a national policy regarding alcohol consumption, implemented excise taxes on alcohol and restrictions for selling alcoholic beverages. In 2012, the Ministry of Health adopted an eight-year national plan to ban certain advertisements, raised taxes on hard liquor, restricted sales hours and raised the legal drinking age from 16 to 18. Also, the government reduced the legal blood alcohol content, made penalties more severe and increased breath testing.

Various measures are tried to be implemented by the local authorities as well. In 2018, the former mayor of Puhoi village, Petru Frunze, promoted an innovative project. He invited 20 alcohol addicted persons to sign an agreement with the mayor’s office, which obligated them to stop consuming alcoholic beverages for half a year. Instead, he promised them jobs and cash prizes worth 1,000 MDL.

source: time.com

The purpose of the initiative was to determine capable to work but alcohol-dependent citizens to be hired and work, thus to reduce domestic violence. Petru Frunze believes that in order to solve the problem of alcoholism in the country, a specialised institution must be created, as Moldova.org reported.

“There should be someone who always watches over them, because otherwise they fall into temptation. It would be good to have an institution at the national level to deal with such things, to develop rehabilitation programs for alcohol addicts. In addition, the problem begins in the teenage years. Even if young people are graduating, they are not encouraged to start to work. There are many jobs that are not so well paid, but still a salary of 5,000-6,000 lei is a better alternative than becoming alcoholic. The state must get involved.”

Currently, the project is no longer carried out in Puhoi. However, it may serve as a good example of trying to solve such social problems on the local level.

Last year, the National Probation Inspectorate, which aims to implement the measures of reintegration of the Moldovan offenders in the society, set up a method to fight drunk or drugged drivers: their driving licences are withdrawn. In order to recover them, drivers have to take special courses.

The program was called “Drink & Drive” and started in March 2019, including 12 sessions. During two of them, the beneficiaries go to the Legal Medicine Centre and the Emergency Hospital. They participate in the autopsy process and even wash the bodies or their places of storage, and in case of emergency, they must provide assistance to road accident victims.

At the same time, the National Police of Moldova launched a telephone line (067 112 902) exclusively for the notification of the Police regarding the cases of drivers driving or attempting to drive their cars while being drunk.

A still existing problem

According to Time, accurate figures for Moldova are hard to reach because up to 70% of consumed alcohol is homemade wine. At the same time, while taxes on hard liquor were raised, beer and wine are still cheap. There is no legal requirement of asking beer and wine consumers to present their ID in Moldovan pubs and bars.

Moreover,  the existing regulations are not effectively enforced. For example, most bars and supermarkets don’t care about the legal time restrictions, nor the about the legal age limits, especially in the countryside.

The law on preventing and combating domestic violence in Moldova still contains lacuna and is not fully enforced to fight this phenomenon.

Photo: time.com

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Culture

5 exceptional museum exhibitions in Chișinău, which are currently opened for visitors. Have you already seen them?

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There are still very few things known abroad about the history, architecture, nature and culture of the Republic of Moldova. Some old and contemporary treasures still remain hidden from the public eye, being visited only by a few connoisseurs. In this article, we present 5 intriguing exhibitions in the Chișinău museums for that time when you visit the capital city of Moldova and think about how to spend your time.

The collection of old charters at the National Library

source: ipn.md

The collection of charters of the National Library includes around 200 documents reflecting the economic, social, political and cultural life of Bessarabia from the Tsarist period (1812-1918). It has been recently restored and made available to the public. The preserved documents were exhibited after the project “Bessarabian charters and other historical documents from the 19th century”, financed by the US Embassy, ​​through the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Conservation, was completed, IPN reported.

According to the director of the National Library Elena Pintilei the project has a major impact on the national heritage, as until two years ago, it was impossible to make these documents public or to make them available to researchers. “The restored historical documents will be researched by historians, because they contain very important information, perhaps still undiscovered, about the period of the 19th century, when Bessarabia was under Tsarist occupation,” said Elena Pintilei.

The exhibition is open to the public until December 30th, 2019. It can be found at the National Library on 31 August 1989 street, 78A.

The exhibition “Bessarabian Motives” at the “Andrei Lupan” Scientific Library

source: fest.md

The exhibition “Bessarabian Motives” is composed of about 70 works performed in different techniques of visual art: oil on canvas, watercolour, ink pen, paper engraving. In the works of the artists are represented rural and architectural motives, as well as local people of the old Chișinău.

The old Chișinău, located on a picturesque place, on seven hills, impresses its inhabitants, but also the guests of the capital. This is why, the artists try to immortalise the old city and its architecture through new works, representing different seasons and times of the day.

“Bessarabian Motives” is a personal exhibition organised by two freelance plastic artists Antonina Grişciuc and Vitalie Grişciuc who have been exhibiting their work in group exhibitions and organising personal exhibitions for 25 years. Their works have been exhibited in many countries such as Moldova, Romania, Russia, Israel, Spain, Azerbaijan, Luxembourg, Belgium, Germany, Japan, France etc.

The exhibition is open to the public in the period from September 27th to November 15th at the “Andrei Lupan” Scientific Library, on Academiei street, 5A.

The “Nature. Human. Culture” exhibition at the National Museum of Ethnography and Natural History

source: muzeu.md

The exhibition “Nature. Man. Culture” is a permanent museum exhibition that was created in 1988-1994. It has an area of ​​2000 square meters and reflects the global problem of human-nature interaction, based on local experience. Starting from the idea that nature is the environment of any human community, and culture is a reflection of the experience of human accommodation in the natural environment, the exhibition demonstrates the evolution of the use of natural resources and the development of the culture of human communities, which populated the region between Prut and Dniester area in different historical periods. It defines the transformation of nature from the sacralization of the forces of nature to their consumer domination by man. The exhibition also illustrates the problems of developing ethnicity and traditional culture in all its diversity, the results of the irresponsible attitude towards the surrounding nature, the conflicts between man and nature, solutions of economic and rational use of natural resources, as well as the tendencies to optimise the values ​​of the society.

The National Museum of Ethnography and Natural History is located on M. Kogalniceanu street, 82.

The exhibition “Treasures of the past” at the National Museum of History of Moldova

source: nationalmuseum.md

The permanent exhibition brings together the most relevant objects made of gold and silver, from the territory of the Republic of Moldova, from the period between the 5th millennium BC till the 18th century, kept in the patrimony of the National Museum of History of Moldova. The oldest pieces in the exhibition were manufactured 6500 years ago. The collection includes ornaments, clothing accessories and weapon elements, a series of coin treasures discovered in different localities of Moldova.

The National Museum of History of Moldova can be found on 31 August 1989 street, 115.

The open air “Village Museum”

source: https://muzeulsatuluichisinau.wordpress.com/

The Village Museum is a wonderful place at the “Gates of the City” – the buildings located at the entrance of Chișinău (from the airport). It aims to exhibit the monuments of popular architecture, namely the Bessarabian village from the 18th-19th century and offers a representative image of the plant world in the Republic of Moldova.

The museum was inaugurated in 1995, as a branch of the National Museum of Ethnography and Natural History.

The museum complex has been under construction for a long time, having until now only one monument: a wooden church built in 1642, brought from the town of Hirișeni (Telenesti district) in order to be restored and saved.

When the project will be completed, it will cover an area of 150 hectares and will include six ethnographic areas with 165 monuments: windmills, water mills, wooden churches, dwelling houses, house annexes, trout, a traditional inn and a pub, etc.

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Economy

Unaffordable prices for low quality transportation services in Moldova or the apple of discord among carriers and the Government

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The Employers Association of Car Transport Operators from Moldova organised a protest yesterday and today. More than 250 transport units have been brought to the city centre of Chișinău, and about 250 other units are stationed in villages and district centres. That means 586 trips of 124 regular routes were suspended.

The carriers require the adjustment of the tariffs for transportation by doubling them (from 0.48 lei/km to 0.92 lei/km). On the other hand, the Government officials consider that only after providing decent transport conditions for passengers, the request of tariff adjustment can be discussed. In the meantime, people have to wait for hours for public transportation all over the country.

The <<Marshrutka>> phenomenon

The public transportation in Moldova is not expensive at all from an outside perspective. There are few countries on the European continent where one can travel from the airport to the city centre of a city for 0.10 euro. The prices for longer distance travel using mainly the so-called marshrutkas (fixed-route minivans) and sometimes buses may also look more than affordable. Nonetheless, due to low income, these prices seem high for the main client segment – the local population.

Moreover, passengers in Moldova accept and tolerate to travel standing and ‘packed like sardines’ (as local people like to say) sometimes their whole route. Some people still approach the driver to pay, that meaning their ticket money are not officially recorded and paid. The schedule of busses and minivans is sometimes confusing and not accurate, the transport services being provided on old and insecure vehicles.

The protest of transportation companies

According to protesters, the last change of tariffs took place six years ago and they incur losses because of this. Oleg Alexa, the president of the Employers’ Association of Car Transport Operators, explained for Moldova.org that there is a Government decision, approved ten years ago, which provides for the adjustment of tariffs in the transportation area once a year. However, the decision was not respected. The last adjustment of the tariffs was made six years ago, in November 2013, and was obtained by addressing the matter to the court. That time, the tariffs were increased from 0.38 to 0.48 lei/km.

“We are basically all bankrupt and we have a staff shortage of 3,000 employees.”

At the same time, during the negotiations with the representatives of the Ministry of Economy, the carriers have presented a list of proposals that could cause the tariff not to increase so much. That means carriers require partially maintaining the current conditions of passengers’ transportation, namely reusing transport units, transporting passengers standing up to 50 km, combating illicit passenger transport, importing transport units up to a certain age, eliminating abusive tax controls, etc. If the authorities will consider the carriers’ proposals, they would be willing to accept a lower tariff than the one requested during the protest, as Oleg Alexa stated.

At the same time, the Ministry of Economy and Infrastructure declared that the Government is against increasing the tariffs on transport, specifying that the adjustment of the tariffs can only be discussed after the passengers will be provided with civilised travel conditions.

In a press release, the Government disapproved the decision of the carriers to suspend 600 trips, thus blocking the movement of citizens, motivating the strike by the refusal of the Ministry of Economy and Infrastructure to increase the tariffs on national road services.

The experts’ opinion

Economic experts say that the request of the carriers is justified, but the tariffs should be increased gradually, in order to not affect the citizens.

The economic expert Veaceslav Ioniță declared that the carriers have at least 50% higher costs as compared to six years ago. This is mainly due to the basic components of tariffs – employees’ salaries, the cost of spare parts and fuel price, which have all increased.

According to him, the authorities impose more and more stringent requirements on the carriers, which means that the carriers can no longer use old cars, but have to buy well-maintained cars, that implying additional costs.

As for the requested increase of tariffs, the expert claims that it is obvious that the carriers “requested an exaggerated tariff, hoping that they will reach a middle ground at the negotiations.” In the same context, he noted, however, that the current government has a reason to be upset about the carriers. This is because they have not taken such actions in the past, during the six years since the tariffs were maintained.

At the same time, Ioniță warned that tariffs are politicised in Moldova. “They are approved by the authorities. It is not an independent regulation. Because of this, carriers are also vulnerable,” claimed Ioniță.

As it seems, the protests of the carriers will continue and the public transportation problem in the Republic of Moldova will not be so easy to be solved, as several contradicting interests exist. One thing is clear: Moldovan passengers of national and international routes have to suffer in this situation.

Photo: ipn.md

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