8 June 2022

In January this year, we announced we had raised over £100,000 since 2000 for Agape – a charity which works to improve the lives of young people in Moldova, one of the poorest countries in Europe. Since then, the world has witnessed the Russian invasion of Ukraine (with which Moldova shares a border) and subsequently, the people of Moldova have been at the forefront of the refugee effort.

Teacher in charge of the Moldova Project, Mr Jenkins, recently visited Moldova. He was interested to see the important work being done by Agape in the schools there but he also managed to find out about the extraordinary work of ordinary Moldovans in their bid to help Ukrainians.

He said: “Using some of the money raised by the Abingdon sponsored walk last September, Agape organised four activity camps for young Moldovan children based at Grigore Vieru, Andrei Vartic and Petre Stefanuca Schools in Ialoveni and Mihai Iminescu School in the nearby village of Ulmu. I visited all four camps to see the children enjoying arts and craft, sport, and English lessons – it was particularly gratifying that many of the volunteers running the activities were older Moldovan students who had themselves attended summer camps run in previous years by Abingdon pupils.

“There was also the chance to attend “The Last Bell” ceremony at Petre Stefanuca School which saw the graduation of the oldest students marked with dancing and the final ringing of the school bell and to present a donation of a new set of volleyball team shirts to students at Gregore Vieru School.

“However, one of the most inspiring moments of the trip was seeing how remarkable the hospitality of the Moldovan people, which Abingdon pupils have experienced for many years, has been in recent months as they have welcomed nearly half a million Ukrainian refugees into their country. Over 100,000 of these are currently staying in Moldova and are being supported by numerous individuals and organisations. I met 18 year old Mihaela, who with a group of friends, has set up a refugee centre in Chisinau which offers food and accommodation for up to 70 refugees at a time. Hearing Mihaela talk about her determination to make a difference to those in need, and witnessing all she has accomplished, was truly heartening.

“I am looking forward to 2023 when I hope that Abingdon sixth formers will once again be able to return to Moldova and celebrate the 20th anniversary of our first trip there.”

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