The teacher in charge of a longstanding charity project at Abingdon School has returned to Moldova to see its impact firsthand.
In January, the Oxfordshire independent school announced that it had raised more than £100,000 since 2000 for Agapé, a charity working to improve the lives of young people in the country, one of the poorest in Europe.
Since then, the former Soviet republic has been put under further strain. According to figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 460,000 refugees from Ukraine have crossed into Moldova following the Russian invasion in late February, with over 100,000 opting to stay.
Adam Jenkins, the leader of Abingdon School’s Moldova Project, was clearly impressed by what he saw on the ground on his most recent visit.
“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,” he said.
“Over 100,000 of these are currently staying in Moldova and are being supported by numerous individuals and organisations,” added Jenkins. “I met 18-year-old Mihaela who, with a group of friends, has set up a refugee centre in Chișinău 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.”
Abingdon School’s fundraising efforts – including last autumn’s record-breaking sponsored walk, which raised over £15,000 – predate the conflict, of course, and assessing their impact was Jenkins’ primary reason for the visit.
“Using some of the money raised by the Abingdon sponsored walk last September, Agapé organised four activity camps for young Moldovan children,” he explained.
“I visited all four 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.
“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.”