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FEATURE STORY

A Little Money Goes a Long Way in Empowering Moldova’s Rural Youth

February 27, 2009


The small town of Razeni is a 30-minute drive south of Moldova’s capital Chisinau. The community, once home to over 7,000 people, has witnessed in recent years a massive outflow of labor force to countries of Western Europe and Russia - a story so commonly told in rural Moldova. Young people and their grand-parents are usually the ones left behind.

A World Bank $5,000 grant, provided under the Small Grants Program (currently known as the Civil Society Fund), has helped the local NGO, Eco-Razeni, to finance a youth educational and informational campaign ahead of the upcoming April 2009 general parliamentary elections – to teach young people about the importance of elections.

“Young people are often unaware that they have the right to vote when they turn 18,” says Sergiu Gurau, Executive Director of Eco-Razeni NGO. “The [WB] project First Vote is a civic education campaign for youth who will be voting for the first time this year. It aims to educate them about elections and motivate them to get out and vote.”


" It is inspiring to see what Eco-Razeni is doing in their community. Being an agent of change in an environment of limited funding opportunities is a big challenge in rural Moldova, and we are very pleased to be helping a small NGO build awareness of the importance of youth participation in elections. "

Melanie Marlett

World Bank Moldova Country Manager

With co-funding from the US and Norwegian Embassies, the NGO has managed to set up a County Youth Council. The elected Council brings together youth representatives from 23 villages across the county – a regional youth Parliament which serves a two-fold purpose: to educate young people about the electoral process and empower them to become agents of change in their communities. Eco-Razeni proudly acknowledges that the Chairman of the County Administration is very supportive of this initiative. It is a first for Ialoveni County and for Moldova.

"It is inspiring to see what Eco-Razeni is doing in their community," highlighted Melanie Marlett, World Bank Moldova Country Manager. "Being an agent of change in an environment of limited funding opportunities is a big challenge in rural Moldova, and we are very pleased to be helping a small NGO build awareness of the importance of youth participation in elections."

The World Bank is not a newcomer to the village of Razeni. The town’s high school roof was repaired with financing from the Bank-funded Moldova Social Investment Fund project. Access to water and natural gas is on its way, but the NGO says environmental degradation remains a challenge, and is working with young people to build a sense of environmental responsibility in their community. Whether it’s getting youth out to vote, bringing them together to clean up the local park, or engaging them to take an active role in local community development, the NGO has been a pioneer in tackling a number of social issues in the town of Razeni and neighboring villages.

With just over a month left until the polls open nationwide, Eco-Razeni is finalizing an educational video about the importance of elections, and it plans to hold around 20 educational seminars for youth across Ialoveni County to encourage over 500 new voters to take part in choosing their future.


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