Every day my mother faces a room full of rowdy middle schoolers. They come from tough home situations, raised by grandparents, dependent on breakfast and lunch provided by the school system, and hungry for connection. Somehow she has the strength to not only “get through” 7+ hours of teaching, but also to provide on-the-fly counseling, life coaching and parenting to these youth.
5,258 miles away, in Chisinau, I experienced a similar taste of the impact that working with youth can have. As part of Beginning of Life’s (www.bol.md) holistic approach to solving the problem of human trafficking in Moldova, BOL runs character development and awareness programs in 40 high schools in Chisinau. The goal for these programs is that they will help shape Moldovan youth into individuals that envision and achieve success for themselves, care for others, and improve Moldova from within. In a country where border police report that nearly 900,000 people left the country and did not return last year, youth who care about contributing to their country’s future success are desperately needed.
Unlike several of their other programs (such as Dream House), BOL’s school programs do not merely target at-risk youth. They target the future politicians, police officers, business men and women, doctors, accountants, and artists that will contribute to economic development, establish moral codes for their generation, and fight against the corruption, poverty, and discrimination of their parents’ generation. The importance of building character and morals is desperately needed in a former soviet state where freedoms were repressed for decades, especially in light of the recent fall of Moldova’s pro-western government threatening what progress has been made.
The students in the Russian-speaking high school that my team of 3 visited today were eager to learn about America–our customs, culture, and political perspectives. We were asked about our opinion on Putin and the crisis in Ukraine, demonstrating their awareness and curiosity of the American perspective. (This of course was coupled with a heavy dose of high school concerns on whether we liked vodka, what parties were like in the US, and why I was still single with no children at age 30.)
From my interactions with these youth, two things were clear.
First, Moldovan youth are in a position to shape and impact their country’s future as never before. BOL is a clear change agent, driving these youth to consider and establish their role in their country’s future. The BOL high school programs are a critical component of the organization’s overall vision not only to eradicate human trafficking in Europe’s poorest country, but also to end corruption in government and law enforcement.
Secondly, I have now confirmed that even though teaching is in my blood, dealing with a bunch of rowdy high schoolers is most definitely not my full time calling!
Please pray for the youth of Moldova and the work of BOL in the Chisinau schools. Pray that God will continue to allow BOL access to and impact on the country’s future leaders and that these youth will help achieve the goal of eradicating human trafficking and ending an era of political corruption and poverty.