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Stories from diaspora// Maria Bagrin: “A successful woman can have children and manage a business at the same time.”

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Maria studied law and international relations. For years, she was preparing herself for a career in the field. However, at some point, she decided to change it all and got involved in fashion, marketing and social media. This is a story that proves than anything can be achieved and it’s never too late to do it.

About shaping her course of life

Psychologists say that the hardest thing for humans is change. Our nature dictates us not to like it and to not accept it easily, as it implies a lot of risks. Our today’s protagonist is one of those persons whom we can call the pioneers of change. She had the courage to radically shift her professional course from something she studied for years to a totally different field she knew very little, yet she was really passioned about.

“I did 4 years of law at a college.[1] Then, I obtained my bachelor’s  degree in International Relations and my master’s degree in law. My dream at school was to combine politics with law, which would have helped me develop a career. I even did an internship as a court clerk.” It wasn’t meant to happen, as her passions, which were never taken too seriously, changed the course of her entire life.

Maria always liked to choose impeccable outfits – midi skirts, stylish blouses, she was experimenting a lot while being a student. She also was doing a lot of experiments in social media. Back in 2009, very few people in Moldova knew what a blogger or an influencer meant.

“During my studies, I was very digitally oriented. When the term ‘blogger’ started to be used at the global level, as well as when Instagram appeared, I was simply fascinated by everything that was going on there…”

Maria proved to be a visionary as she was one of the first people in Moldova who saw the potential of an Instagram account and believed in the future of influencers. Nowadays, she manages her own company related to digitalisation, marketing and social media, she has a fashion and lifestyle blog, and her personal account on Instagram is followed by 89.7k users. We can call it a really successful professional shift.

About the transformational process

Of course, nothing was taken for granted and the entire transformational process wasn’t easy at all. “I first created an online fashion and lifestyle magazine called Moldiva, then a brand of clothes that I sold on the ASOS marketplace. In 2013, I received a proposal to work as a fashion stylist in a Moldovan TV project.” For almost 3 years, Maria was helping Moldovan women to find their own fashion style, to select the suitable outfits and to become more confident. Afterwards, she made the decision to move to Bucharest with her family and to found her own company. “That was the crucial moment when I started my entire entrepreneurial adventure, and when I created my first style and image consultancy service,” recalls Maria.

By observing the global trends of “local brands that were getting so easily towards global exposure by using social media, as of bloggers, who from simple students, became fashion icons in a very short while,” Maria and her team founded Makeover Buro.

“We decided to enter the Romanian market as the first marketing influence agency that would organize influencers’ campaigns through well-established strategies and concepts of creative campaigns.”

Makeover Buro was initially related to the fashion industry but eventually expanded to other industries as well. “At the beginning, we were collaborating merely with fashion brands. Then I realized that our range of services can be extended to some other industries. Today, we conduct campaigns in fashion, beauty, health, car, tech industries, and even in parenting field.”

The company started to grow and established a partnership with Brandon Archibald – a branding, architecture and interior design agency. “We are partners. We develop beautiful branding and interior design projects together ,” explains Maria.

“It is a specific marketing trend and it was hard at the beginning. However, I admit that all the experience I’ve earned over the years has helped me a lot,” says Maria, while referring to the way she managed to blend fashion, business activity and social media marketing together.

Besides conducting her activity in the company, she also manages to write articles on her blog and keeps her finger on the pulse of social media through her account on Instagram. “On my blog, I post the outfits that I wear every day, at the office, on vacation, and sometimes I share articles with tips as a response to the questions that people ask me on Instagram,” she says.

About balancing the activity of a manager and a mom

Her success in business was obtained through hard work, creative and management skills and the support of her team and family. As Maria states: “Dreaming about something and seeing things differently is not enough. You have to have a lot of experience and a good team. It’s important to get the support of your family and followers. My followers tracked my activity from the very beginning and always encouraged me with beautiful and motivating messages.”

Maintaining the productivity at a high level is crucial for such a busy person. Maria’s secret for a higher productivity are the breaks taken on time. “The walks in the park with my son make me full of energy. Practicing sports, an organized calendar and many reminders set in my phone also help a lot.”

According to Maria, balancing job and personal life implies a lot of effort as well. “If you know you have a schedule that you must follow, you’ll do it. I’m still working on it. I am the kind of person who would interrupt her activity, regardless of the time of the day or week, for meeting a deadline or answering an email. That is wrong. I am learning to give priority to myself or to my family. If my work program ends at 6pm, that means I have to take my son from kindergarten and to spend time with him,” says Maria.

Despite the huge amount of work, Maria is trying to find time for her own little pleasures: a cup of coffee in the early morning when everyone still sleeps or the escapades to her parents’ home where she disconnects from everything that happens online.

“We had times when my family and I did not have breaks and holidays. We were so focused on our jobs, that we didn’t have any time to even go out with friends.”

As time passed, Maria realized that these moments of ‘respiro’ are important, especially for their little member of the family.

About the things that give wings

Maria says that the motivation for continuing her job are the unique relationship she has with her team, the feedback of clients who come back again and again, the public’s reaction to the short videos produced during the influencer’s campaign and the huge and still unexploited potential of social media for businesses.

Of course, there is still a lot of work to do. “The success is seen from outside, but there is a lot of work behind, which is not observed and understood by everyone. People think that we are making a lot of money, they do not see the problems and failures we’ve had. That’s why it’s very important to be as close as possible to the public, followers, clients, and to give them the backstage of our business and even to make them learn the things together with you,” claims Maria.

Maria has great plans for the future of the agency she manages: “It will be extended by creating new subdivisions and expanding the portfolio globally.” In Romania, she feels like home and wouldn’t leave. “When we decided, together with my family, to leave Moldova, we definitely thought of Romania, as it is closer to our parents and loved ones, we have the same culture and language and we want for our son to grow up in a Romanian environment.”

[1] In the Republic of Moldova, the college is an institution of specialized secondary education.

Photos: personal archive

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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