August 30th 2017
the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Glen Rock NJ, Glen Rock native Olivia Cecoltan, a Moldovan-born New Jersey girl attending Bergen County Academies, noticed the differences between the lives of children in Moldova and the United States began. In Bergen County pizza dinners and Toys-R-Us trips are a common part of a child’s life, it is difficult to understand that there are many places worldwide where other children do not have basic necessities.
Unlike many Olivia decided yo do something about the plight of children and set up the Hand in Hand Project (HIHP) a not-for-profit organization committed to improving the lives of underprivileged children in Moldova.
Moldova is known as the poorest country in all of Europe, so you can imagine the struggles children endure there. Moldova is a nation sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine in Eastern Europe. The area was occupied by several tribes until it was officially under Roman rule. The medieval Principality of Moldavia was constantly invaded and taken over by various European powers; it was eventually part of Bessarabia and then part of Greater Romania until World War II. It became part of the Soviet Union until the Moldovan people declared independence in 1991. It is now known as the poorest country in Europe. The median income is about 4909 Moldovan Lei, or $249 US Dollars. The Moldovan median income is less than the average monetary value of gifts each American child receives each Christmas, or $271.00!
This summer, Hand in Hand Project held the “Hand in Hand Project Summer Camp” for children exposed to domestic violence at “Mary’s House” in Moldova! The also set up a crowd funding and raised $2000 to aid in their efforts .
The Hand in Hand Project is currently partnering with several organizations in Moldova, including the Orphanage of Straseni which currently serves 58 children from ages 7 to 16.With almost no publicity due to the country’s small size and little impact on the world, orphans in Moldova are in dire need of assistance.
Another goal of this project is to spread awareness of the cause that the Hand in Hand Project stands for among students, faculty, and staff at the Bergen County Academies in Hackensack, NJ. In such a highly competitive school, in which it seems like getting a 4.0 GPA is the goal in life and anything lower makes a student a second-class citizen, many children need to take a step back and be more appreciative of the grand opportunities afforded them and the amazing lives they already lead by the age of 18.