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Diaspora

Stories from diaspora// Andrei Juc – the nomad architect from Moldova who gained his experience from all across Europe

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His name is Andrei Juc. He is a young architect that believes that beauty can make the world a better place and does everything he can to contribute to it. Andrei declares himself a wanderer that still has a lot to discover. He lived, studied and worked in several European countries and hasn’t decided yet where to settle in. Andrei is our new protagonist for the “Stories from Diaspora” series of articles.

About his ‘reason for being’

He started his career in architecture in Moldova, while working as a draftsman for a private summer pavilion. Then, he had an opportunity to work for a museum project in Warsaw. Andrei also had an experience of studying and working in Portugal, where the team he was a part of, won the contest for a hotel reconstruction in the historical centre of Lisbon. Now he lives and has a job in Basel, Switzerland working as a trainee at an architectural bureau. “There are still a lot of things I have to learn. But I like to see that people are happier when helping them make their dreams come true. It can be a new house, a better working environment or a kitchen that would have everything they need. The scale doesn’t matter, it’s the quality that does,” says Andrei.

Photo source: personal archive, photo by Vaniko Katamashvili

Andrei is an assiduous and curious person that looks for perfectionism in every artistic creation of his or of other architects. “The trick is to set the goal so high, that the journey of achieving would bring you lots of happiness. The curiosity for new things is my IKIGAI (a Japanese concept that means a reason for being).” Andrei assumes that by enjoying hard work on a daily basis, his professional limits could be achieved.

About becoming an architect

“I remember that I had big doubts about choosing my future vocation. I liked most of the subjects taught at school, and I could not decide for something, so that I would not lose any important part of my personality that could have been developed.” Andrei thinks that the architecture area encompasses all his interests. “I was thinking of studying philosophy or to become an IT specialist, but, finally, I chose architecture.”

About finding his place in the sun

Andrei changed his location because he thought his educational background would not be complete when staying just in one place. Every time an opportunity to shake things up appeared, he took advantage of it. “I enrolled in several exchange programs. So, I had the opportunity to study at 3 different universities in 3 different countries. My horizons have widened, it is like changing the resolution of a video from 240p to 1080p. Life is the same, but I can see it in much more detail than I did before,” Andrei states.

Photo source: personal archive

For our protagonist, each change of location was a big leap, leaving behind a comfortable workplace and good friends with whom Andrei still tries to keep in touch. “My nomad story starts in Poland where I had an Erasmus exchange program for 10 months. I liked the country a lot and I observed that learning the Polish language would help follow the regular courses there.”

Afterwards, the possibility to study in Portugal came to Andrei. The master’s degree in architecture seemed to be a great option. He spent there more time than he thought at first and met great people there. “I had a great chance to learn from Polish and Portuguese professionals. However, I was still feeling that I shall keep moving. I believe young people shall often change places. Jack Ma advises young people to to that before their 30s,” states Andrei while smiling. Hence, here he is in Switzerland.

About conquering mountains

The first years of studies were hard for Andrei. “We had a lot of heavy tasks with quite restricted deadlines. It was quite stressful so I started to think about some kind of activity that might take me away from the drawing desk and, preferably, help me stay in shape.”

Photo source: personal archive

After trying various sports, Andrei settled upon climbing. He managed to transpose the steep ‘cliffs’ from the office to the real ones. The difference? The real cliffs were a reboot button that were releasing all the stress accumulated during the working week. “The best way to refresh my mind is climbing in some isolated place, away from the civilisation. It is my kind of meditation. After a long day of climbing, I find answers to both professional and personal life questions. Nature is the ultimate therapist.”

Besides climbing, Andrei learns foreign languages (and he is really having a knack for them, as he speaks 7 already) and reads famous novels in original. “The last one was a José Saramago novel. I hope to improve my German to be able to read Goethe, Kant and Wittgenstein in original,” says Andrei.

One more hobby Andrei has, which is related to his vocation, is sketching. “I have a lot of notebooks with drafts. Often, I make quick sketches while traveling or in museums. My rule – it shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes. It’s a skill that helps me capture the most important of a landscape, image, sculpture. When it comes to sketch architecture, it’s an attempt to capture the future project, to try ideas in a context.”

Photo source: Instagram

Photo source: Instagram

Photo source: Instagram

About Moldova

Andrei is grateful to be born in Moldova. It is where he hopes to work in the future. “It makes me happy to see some restauration works in Moldova, such as the Căușeni Church restauration. A year ago, I was invited to work on a project of an old hospital restauration. I hope it will go on soon and I’ll have the opportunity to contribute to its realisation.” Andrei says that participating at projects of perpetuation of the Moldavian heritage would make him happy and proud.

He believes that the way the Moldovans interact with foreigners has a way bigger impact than any news they see about Moldova. However, he recognizes that he is not always able to explain the entire complexity of the Moldovan politics, culture or traditions.

For now, he is staying abroad. “There is a saying that if you want to build big bridges, don’t wait until the big water gets into your own town – move to a place where such a bridge is needed. I wanted a broader educational background. The nomad lifestyle that I have gave it to me.”

Featured photo source: oneday.md

Culture

Generation C – a documentary by Moldova.org about shepherding in Moldova and Georgia // VIDEO

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At the end of January, Moldova.org presented the premiere of the documentary Generation C, a film about an occupation that was passed on from father to son – shepherding.

The documentary tells the story of Vaso and Anatolie – two men, one from the Georgian mountains and another from the south of Moldova – and displays the activity of their lives, that of their fathers, grandparents and great-grandparents. But will it be inherited by their sons as well?

Anatolie Ciobanu (his name is translated as shepherd) lives in Alexandru Ioan Cuza village, Cahul district. He has several hundred sheep and says he may run out of them one day.

Vaso Gulelauri lives in Lalisquri Village, Telavi, Georgia with his family. When he is not taking care of sheep and is not at home, he spends his time in the mountains. He has never been to the sea, because he loves the mountains too much.

In the last 20 years, the number of sheep in the Republic of Moldova has almost halved. The same thing happened in Georgia. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Georgia had about two million sheep. Now, the figure reaches one million only.

The documentary can be watched below:

„Generation C” documentary (english subtitles)

Prieteni, astăzi publicăm documentarul „Generația C” subtitrat în limba engleză! Deci vă invităm să-l distribuiți și să-l arătați prietenilor voștri care nu vorbesc româna sau georgiana și rusa. ^_^Într-o eră a Internetului, vitezei și industrializării, doi ciobani, unul moldovean, altul georgian, ne-au împărtășit istoriile lor și ne-au vorbit despre tradiția transmisă lor de bunicii și tații lor.Pe lângă imaginile pitorești, bucuria celor doi este că încă mai pot împărtăși această cutumă cu fii lor. Dar oare vor fi cei doi oieri și ultima generație de ciobani din familiile lor? Găsiți răspunsul în documentarul nostru, „Generația C”.

Geplaatst door Moldova.org op Maandag 18 mei 2020

This text is a translation. The original article here.

Photos: Moldova.org| Tatiana Beghiu

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Society

The Moldovan Orthodox Church spread dangerous fakes about COVID-19 vaccination, nano-chipping and 5G

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Religion is an essential part of almost every Moldovan citizen’s life. The majority of Moldova’s people describe themselves as being religious – almost 93% of the population. 90% of the total population declared they follow Orthodoxy, governed by the Eastern Orthodox Church, according to the national census conducted in 2014.

Therefore, the Moldovan Orthodox Church (MOC) is the one that introduces and approves the most important religious and everyday life practices for 90% of Moldova’s population, but it is also responsible for a lot of stereotypes, stigmas, myths, beliefs and disbelief spread in the Moldovan society.

This week, two messages of the Moldovan Orthodox Church were addressed to the state authorities. One of them referred to the restrictions imposed on the activity of the churches from Moldova during the Public Health Emergency period. Another urged the government to refrain from compulsory vaccination of the population, when a vaccine against COVID-19 would be made available. What is even worse, the second message included false information about nano-chipping and 5G technology.

First, the MOC representatives didn’t agree with the latest provisions issued by the National Extraordinary Public Health Commission, which established that religious ceremonies will continue to be held in churchyards, keeping social distance, until June 30. “We have been looking forward to lifting more restrictions, and that postponement is outrageous, disgusting and even embarrassing,” is mentioned in the letter of the religious institution.

Earlier, on March 13, the Moldovan authorities announced that all religious ceremonies have to be ceased for a period of 14 days. However, the Moldovan Orthodox Church encouraged the local churches’ representatives from all over the country to continue their activity, defying any rules imposed.

See also: How does coronavirus spread? Churches can easily become a contagion epicentre

“If you like to call yourselves Christians, why didn’t you follow the example of Georgia or Bulgaria, which did not interrupt the religious ceremonies and have a lower mortality rate? When removing the restrictions, why didn’t you follow the example of Spain and other states that were much more affected and, still, allowed 30% entering in churches since last Sunday?”

The letter claimed that a denigration campaign was launched against the Church, by using such expressions as “outbreaks of infection”, “insanitary spaces”, “medieval practices” in the officials’ messages addressed to the population. Also, a request to participate in the decision-making process was made. “We welcome the initiative to invite (to negotiations) the representatives of the Moldovan Orthodox Church and to reformulate the decision in accordance with the norms of Christian morality. Otherwise, we assume the canonical and moral right to exclude you from the remembrance and prayer of the Church,” threatened the members of the Church Synod.

At the same time, the clergy said that the decisions regarding changing or adapting religious practices should be taken only by the Church, not by the state.

The Metropolitan of Chisinau and All Moldova during the state of emergency.

In the second letter, addressed to the Moldovan officials, MOC called on voluntary vaccination of the population against the novel coronavirus. They also demanded the assurance of all fundamental rights of people who would refuse vaccines, but also to implant any chip in their body.

“Public opinion in many European countries is protesting against the mandatory vaccines, especially the vaccine against COVID-19, because it is considered a way of the global Antichrist system to introduce microchips into people’s bodies, with which to control them through 5G technology.”

The hallucinating declarations continued with blaming Bill Gates of creating “the micro-chipping technology through a vaccine that introduces nano-particles (or microchips?) into the body, which react to waves transmitted by 5G technology and allow the system to control humans remotely,” according to the MOC official message.

The evasive accusations are very similar to the discrediting campaigns that, according to the stopfals.md portal, are supported by several media institutions and blogs around the world, usually affiliated with various religious organisations, but also by sites with pro-Kremlin editorial policy.

“It is believed that 5G technology in combination with certain vaccines administered in China and Italy represented the basis for the appearance of this virus that turned the entire planet upside down,” speculated the MOC leaders, citing the declaration of an Italian MP, Sara Cunial, who called Bill Gates a murderer and asked to hand him over to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. Additionally, two more very dubious article published in a media outlet from Romania were used as references.

The MOC messages addressed to Moldovan authorities can be downloaded here.

The national Ombudsman expressed his concern regarding the MOC declarations. “The public launch of messages referring to dangers in the area of conspiracy scenarios is a reckless act that can generate panic and adverse consequences for social order, as well as insecurity and distrust in the country’s medical services, thus thwarting the efforts of the authorities to combat the epidemic,” is mentioned in a press release issued on the official page of the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman called on the leadership of the MOC to withdraw its request to the authorities and to refrain from other messages that could have a detrimental effect on public health, social order and human rights.

Similar positions had the Moldovan officials to whom the MOC messages were addressed, state institutions’ representatives, MPs, members of the Moldovan Academy of Sciences, and even church servants.

“These lies are not just meaningless fantasies, they are extremely dangerous because they fuel people’s scepticism about the efforts of doctors and researchers to get rid of this calamity called COVID-19. And this, dear Church leaders, endangers human lives!” commented the MP Radu Marian.

The Moldovan Orthodox Church consciously spread dangerous myths, while it is considered a credible source of information for a lot of religious people from Moldova. That could have serious consequences, as religious fanatics refusing to be vaccinated, a manipulated public opinion and a population opposing technology development. People should use their critical thinking in discerning information, even when they fully trust the Church, contrary to the frequent habit of believing without questioning.

Photos: Facebook| The Metropolitan of Chisinau and All Moldova

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Opinion

Older people’s rights and dignity must be protected amid the COVID-19 pandemic

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By Alanna Armitage

Across Europe, from Spain to Serbia, care homes for older people have become hotspots of COVID-19 infections. According to the World Health Organization, residents of long-term care facilities account for up to half of coronavirus deaths in Europe.

Among all the heartbreaking statistics that tell the story of how the virus is devastating lives around the world, this figure sticks out to me. It shines light on an unimaginable tragedy unfolding right before our eyes – but drawing surprisingly little public attention.

Older people living in care facilities make up only a tiny fraction of the total population – barely 1%, for example in Germany, the country with Europe’s largest number of nursing home beds per capita. This gives a sense of how grotesquely over-represented care home residents are among the deaths caused by the virus.

Older people in general are badly affected by the pandemic. They are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and some 95% of deaths are among people aged 60 and older. This is one reason why Europe, the region with the world’s largest proportion of older people, is seeing the pandemic ravaging with such force within its borders. And older people aren’t just facing a health crisis: physical distancing (erroneously called social distancing) measures to contain the virus also have a disproportionate impact on their lives and livelihoods, as many are cut off from the services, support and caregivers they rely on.

Often neglected and out of sight, older people living in care homes are among the most vulnerable of all. We hear haunting stories of people dying alone, without having their loved ones around them and with sometimes only minimal care provided by overwhelmed and under-financed facilities.

The tragedies happening in nursing homes right now are just one, albeit extreme, expression of how we are failing older people more broadly. The pandemic has put this failure into stark relief, but it didn’t begin with COVID-19. As countries in Europe are ageing rapidly – one in four people already is 60 years or older – societies have been struggling to create conditions for the growing number of older people to be able to thrive, remaining in good health and active in their communities and public life.

Instead, many older people experience neglect, poverty, social exclusion and isolation – exacerbated now because of the pandemic. Perhaps even worse is the way public discourse tells them, more or less subtly and through myriads of cultural clues, that because of their age they are a burden, less valuable, even expendable.

It is my hope that this crisis, and the horrifying effects it has on many older people, will come to be a turning point for how we see and treat older people in society. At UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, we work hard with our partners in government and civil society not only to support older people during the pandemic. But also to ensure more broadly that their dignity and rights are protected and that they remain integrated and engaged in their communities.

Many countries are now looking at how the crisis can be turned into opportunity. There are four key steps governments can take to make this happen:

  1. Prioritise the protection of older people in response to COVID-19. This can include sending unequivocal public messages of support for the equal rights and dignity of older people and taking bold measures to demonstrate that public commitments go beyond lip service. Ensuring continuity of services, supporting caregivers, using digital technologies to reach people in isolation – a lot can be done to mitigate the effects of the crisis.
  2. Hear the voices of older people. As we are responding to this crisis, and developing policies for the future, we must listen to what older people have to say. Engaging with community representatives is vital for avoiding biases and being able to come up with solutions that respond to actual needs.
  3. Counter ageism in public discourse and practice. There must be no tolerance for the rampant age discrimination and negative stereotyping that has surfaced even more during this crisis. Promoting a counter-narrative centred on inter-generational solidarity and the agency and valuable contributions of older people will be key for shifting social norms and attitudes.
  4. Revisit legal and policy frameworks and budgets through an age lens. Now is the time to start looking beyond the crisis and review what needs to change in sectors like health, education, employment and social welfare so that countries are in a better position to cope with the effects of rapid demographic change while ensuring the rights and choices of an ageing population.

Let’s be clear: the death of so many older people during this crisis was not inevitable. It is the direct result of our failure – as societies, institutions and cultures – to assign equal importance and value to the lives and well-being of the older generation. We must learn from past mistakes and get serious about creating a society for all ages in which older people are recognized, and supported, as the important pillars of society that they are: as teachers and mentors, carers and volunteers, story-tellers and creators, conveyors of culture, and fighters for rights that we sometimes take for granted. In an ageing Europe, we simply cannot afford to exclude a quarter of the population with all their skills, talents and other contributions. Ensuring that older people are treated with the same rights and dignity as everyone else is not only a moral imperative, it’s a win-win for all, old and young alike.

Alanna Armitage is the Director of the Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.

Photo: UNFPA

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