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Stories from diaspora// Alexandru-Vlad Murzac: “The voice of young people is not heard enough in Moldova.”

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He is Alexandru-Vlad, an ambitious dreamer from Moldova whose motto is “Always try hard and never give up”. His double name was given to him after his father and grandfather’s name who always believed in him and had a great impact on his personality.

About his life choices

Alexandru-Vlad believes that each person has a role in the society he lives in. Despite his young age, he already provides an example to his peers. “Through my activities and projects, I try to inspire other young people to strive to a better life and always get involved in their communities.”

He got the chance to study in the best schools from the Republic of Moldova and abroad. However, he talks with modesty about his achievements. “It is not important in what school you study or what activities you conduct. Trying to be a better person is just your choice,” says Alexandru-Vlad.

Two years ago, he earned a Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) scholarship and spent one year in the United States, studying at the Merrillville High School. “Thanks to FLEX, I have expanded my knowledge about the American culture and politics.” Besides his studies, he participated in two debate tournaments and the Civic Educational Workshop, a project organised in Washington DC where the participants met with government officials.

Most people do not know what America really is, until they get there,” our protagonist mentions. According to him, everything is different in the US: the educational system, the social life, etc. Alexandru-Vlad says that he had the chance to experience his own ‘American Dream’.

After his return, his friends from Moldova asked him a lot about the American elections: “I was in the US in the year when Trump was elected.”

Nowadays, Alexandru-Vlad is doing his bachelor at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. “It is a very challenging opportunity. You have to give all your time for studying but never forget about social life. Business is a new field for me. Every day, I learn something new and like it more and more.”

About his extracurricular activities

Alexandru-Vlad has been involved in many organizations. From 2014 to 2018, he took part in the Interact Chisinau project – a Rotary International service club for young people aged between 12 and 18. “Interact was the most important activity for me, since I was its president from 2016 to 2017. I was responsible for all the community service projects and tried to bring them to a next level: more impact on social media, more people involved,” he claims.

He founded together with a friend from diaspora a project called MoldX, which is an online community for Moldovan people. “I will re-start the project in April by communicating more with young people from Moldova that represent our country abroad. I hope to succeed in promoting their ideas in Moldova.”

“At the Association of Young Diplomats, our teams organized several meetings with embassies and their representatives learning about their work and opportunities of their countries,” says Alexandru-Vlad, while referring to another project he participated in.

Also, Alexandru-Vlad really likes to travel. “My next destinations are the Caucasian countries. All of them are a big inspiration for me. I am very interested in the architecture and culture of every place I visit.” He even tried to launch a blog: “Unfortunately, my ideas about my blog didn’t meet my expectations, due to a lack of experience, but there is still hope for this project to be reborn in two or three weeks. It will be about Moldova, US and Netherlands.”

About the Republic of Moldova

When asked whether he would return to Moldova, Alexandru-Vlad doesn’t have an answer yet.

“I am not sure if I’ll go back to Moldova in the next 7-10 years, but I am sure that our country needs young people in order to develop. So, if my contribution is needed, there is a big chance for me to return.”

Regardless of his uncertainty about his future plans, Alexandru-Vlad considers himself a patriot of his country. “It is hard to define what patriotism really is. For each of us it is something different. I always introduced myself as a Romanian from Moldova and tried to motivate people whom I meet to visit our country. There are a lot of notorious people that studied or lived abroad while considering themselves patriots.”

Alexandru-Vlad believes that the voice of young people is not heard enough in Moldova. He thinks that all governmental projects are organized superficially and there are few TV shows about young people where they would be invited to debates on different topics. “Many of our compatriots want to come back but they don’t see the proper opportunities. Let’s start bringing them back and stop the emigration,” he says.

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

A new documentary about the Soviet past of Moldova will be soon released – “The Soviet Garden”

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“The Soviet Garden” is a documentary about a filmmaker from Moldova who was investigating the Soviet experiments in atomic gardening. While inspecting his grandmother’s mysterious death, Dragos Turea, a filmmaker from Moldova, discovered a secret scientific experiment – the plan of Nikita Khrushchev to transform Moldova into a Soviet Garden through the application of atomic energy in local agriculture.

From the moment Nikita Khrushchev decided so, the Moldovan soil was supposed to radiation experiments. The radiation was used to cause mutations in seeds and fruit to obtain crops that are more resistant to climatic conditions or are of higher volumes. All for the sake of harvesting an unprecedented crop, which will feed the whole Soviet Union. “To get water for irrigating the fields, even the rivers were forced to run up the hill,” says Dragoș Turea in the documentary. There were always goals to be reached, records to be exceeded in the Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic.

People here were very proud that they deceived nature and executed the Communist Party’s order to grow high volumes of crop, in order to feed the Soviet working class. The price for those experiments is paid today – radiation infected lands, population still being kept uninformed, more and more people suffering from cancer, infested equipment hidden in bunkers, reduced biodiversity, lost seed heritage… Many of those who were involved in those experiments have died very early.

Produced by Parmis Film Studio and RovaFilm, directed by Dragos Turea, “The Soviet Garden” had its world premiere at Sarajevo Film Festival, which was organised from 16 to 23 August, 2019. On October 31st, the movie will be released in Moldova. The premiere will be at the Patria Cinema.

This is an unique chance for people of Moldova, as well as people from abroad (as the movie will have English subtitles) to get to know more about atomic gardening in Moldova, a phenomenon that was hidden from the public, and maybe to reflect more about the relationship between ecological problems and politics.

The trailer of the documentary:

More information here.

Photo: Facebook/The Soviet Garden

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Culture

Interesting facts about Chișinău on its Annual Fete

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Every year, on October 14th , the residents of Chișinău celebrate the Annual Fete of the city. You can find below some interesting facts about the celebration of this day and about the history of the capital city in general.

source: zdg.md

  • Every year, besides the usual festivity organised in the city centre of Chișinău, a religious ceremony dedicated to the celebration of the feast day of the “Nativity of Lord” Metropolitan Cathedral is conducted.
  • Another tradition, on Chișinău’s Annual Fete, is the laying of flowers at the monument of the Ștefan cel Mare in the centre of the capital, at 8 a.m.
  • Even though the actual anniversary of Chișinău must be celebrated on July 17th, as the locality was documentarily mentioned for the first time on this date in 1436, it is still used to count its age in October.
  • This year, a wide range of cultural, social and artistic manifestations were organised: exhibitions of crafts, florist, books, paintings and graphics, a musical-choreographic show, food courts, the Municipal Merit Award hosted by the Organ Hall, recitals of a choir from Estonia and a music school from Israel, entertainment activities for elder people, musical shows and concerts with the participation of national and international singers, folk music orchestras, as well as a marching band from Romania. The scheduled events end at 11 p.m. with a firework show.
  • The Annual Fete of Chișinău is celebrated since 1995, when Serafim Urecheanu – the mayor of that time of Chișinău – decided to do so. Initially, it was celebrated on the first Sunday of October. The situation changed due to a decree signed by Vladimir Voronin, the country president back then, who decided to organise the “National Wine Day” on the first Sunday of October. Thus, the municipality had to find a solution to separate the two holidays. The moment happily coincided with ending of the renovation works of the Metropolitan Cathedral, “The Birth of the Lord” on October 14th, 2001.
  • The Annual Fete of Chișinău is celebrated on the same day as the Annual Fete of Tiraspol and Iași.
  • Chișinău became the capital city by the decision of Metropolitan Gavriil Bănulescu-Bodoni and the senator of the city in 1818.
  • The capital city has a population of 844 605 people, out of which 30893 are children, according to data from the State Register of Population.
  • There are 215 282 cars and 292 900 apartments registered in Chișinău.
  • The longest street in the capital city is the Muncești street, having a length of 13 km, the shortest one – Valeri Cikalov street, which has 41 m.
  • About 7% of the total area of the municipality is occupied by green areas and 2.3% is covered by water, that means about 3 square meters of green land for each resident of the city.
  • Also, the capital of the Republic of Moldova is twinned with 16 other cities from different countries of the world such as: Odessa, Iași, Ankara, or Grenoble.

More facts about Chișinău can be found in the infographic made by TV8.

Photo: zdg.md

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