De-institulionalization Project

I wanted to talk a little bit more about the de-institutionalization project that I am a part of right now.

The de-institulionalization program started in Moldova about 4 years ago with the help of European governments. From what I could see so far all the services developed by Keystone are successful. During the period here, I visited all the services in the country that belong to keystone ( around 12 homes) and what I saw is amazing. Almost all the individuals from protected homes are employed and have small farms, and the people from community homes are doing great and are learning a lot. I am still inclined towards de-institutionalization, as I see the adults living in the community and learning a different lifestyle from the residential institution. Most of the individuals arrived in protected homes and community house with no abilities, not even able to eat by themselves, however now they are independent in many aspects.

Now, the Moldovan government wants to transform all  the institutions from Moldova in Protected and Community homes. Keystone is working closely with the residential institutions from two districts. We had a 2 day seminar with the staff members from Orhei institution and the 2 days with  the staff from Hincesti institution. During these 2 days seminar we are working towards a transitions plan and how the staff from the residential institutions sees the transition and their roles in the deinstitutionalization project in the next 5 years. By the end of the second day we had a draft of what will happen to the institution building, how many individuals will move to community homes, protected homes, foster care, biological families and of course how many will  stay in the institution. The staff share their thoughts on what they want to do with the empty space from the building, what new programs they want to develop. Keystone’s main goal is to  provides consultation to the residential institutions, in order for them to develop the successful services.

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Tomatoes from our garden.

It is very hard to adapt to a different lifestyle when you have an infant on hands, however withthe help of my mother, who came here to help me and babysit Daria, it is much easier. During the weekdays I live in my parent’s apartment in Chisinau, however on weekends I love to go my parents village house in Hincesti rayon. My parents have a small garden with different fruits and vegetables. I love the feeling when you can walk into the garden and pick fresh produce. My grandparents also live in the same village, which is very helpful and they take care of our garden while my parents are in the USA.

One of the things that I really missed about my homeland is the food. When I am in USA, I always dream about the authentic Moldovan food. My grandmother loves cooking, so she cooks foe me every weekend lots of food and she is always complaining that I didn’t finish all the food she put on the table for me.

Unfortunately, not much has changed since I left. Moldova is still one of the poorest countries in Europe, unemployment is high, and the country is heavily dependent upon remittances from thousands of Moldovans working abroad. Also, many of these workers come back only to take their family members and start a new life in a different country. Most of them emigrate to European countries and Russia.

People are conducting nonstop demonstrations against the government. They have been demonstrated for almost one year, however these rallies didn’t change much and the corruption is still the main problem in Moldova. The political and economic crisis has been worsening daily following the disappearance of $1 billion  from three major Moldovan banks in 2014. It is believed that the current government is involved in the bank fraud scandal.

I am still hopeful that next time when I come to visit Moldova a lot of things will be changed and I will be able to say “ That’s it, I am moving back to my homeland!”


The view from my parents’ house.


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The first week at Keystone Moldova was amazing. I felt welcome by the staff and had a chance to meet so many awesome people who go above and beyond at their job in order to develop and maintain as many programs as possible for the individuals with disabilities and their families. The team is fairly small, but the amount of work they are doing is impressive. They are working simultaneously at different projects and also work on creating new programs countrywide. During the first week I had an opportunity to visit a community house in a village aprox. 80km from the capital. Ion and Mihai both live in the community house. The boys were referred by the orphanage as individuals who can learn/manage to live independently with little support. The community house was purchased by Keystone and provided to the beneficiaries at no cost. As the government pension is very small, the boys have a mini farm which helps them grow their own food. As an extra form of income the boys sell chicken and quail eggs. I attached a few pictures from Ion and Mihai’s residence.

IMG_3164IMG_3163 IMG_3165

During this week, I also attended a seminar presented by one of the Keystone’s staff members. The seminar took place in Ialoveni district and its goal was to train the community social workers on how to communicate with people with disabilities and their families.

And finally, one of the things that made me happy was the International Children’s Day.  In Moldova it is considered a big holiday.I took a walk in the park with my daughter and remembered my childhood in Moldova. It seemed that not much changed since I left. They are still making one of my favorite childhood desserts – cotton candy.


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