The Island - center for educational and social rehabilitation of young adults in Moldova

The Island - center for educational and social rehabilitation of young adults in Moldova

Moldova
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Budget: 
$1 million - $5 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The orphanage system in former USSR is a closed system that does not allow outside interference. Most of the time orphans are spending with each other, in a controlled and everything-is-arranged environment. At the time when they leave the orphanage (at the age of 15-18), they are lacking the basic social, household and professional skills; therefore their chances in real life are very low and they tend to end up dealing with alcohol, drugs and crime. Project ‘The Island’ has the main aim to provide social rehabilitation and development together with psychological and educational help to orphanage graduates.
We strongly believe that this will positively influence their attitude towards the society and the law, and allows them to get their fair part of chances in live they deserve.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

According to recent data of UNICEF, due to economic migration at least 29% of Moldovan children live without one or both parents, and this number is increasing. In 58 boarding-schools all around Moldova, each having 100-500 children, there are more than 8 643 children in total isolated from the world and deprived of family care. Recently the economic situation in Moldova has worsened. The care of orphaned children has deteriorated. Children in the orphanages and reformation centers are at risk of nutritional deprivation, insufficient medical care, and general neglect due to inadequate caretaker ratios. Packed into poorly heated, poorly ventilated buildings, growing children are faced with a wide range of challenges and deprivations. The lack of adequate education, physical exercise, nutritious food, adult supervision, or medical and psychological services result in a host of unfortunate outcomes for institutionalized children. The loss of spiritual and moral orientation and the alienation from culture and art are only a few of these negations. All these factors result in a very high crime rate in this social group: after graduation orphans get robbed, cheated, and therefore get involved into drugs, alcohol and crime. The Island project will benefit teens and young adults that graduated from an orphanage by providing all means of their integration into the society they have never lived in. The Island will provide them an adequate educational, medical, living and recreational facilities in the framework of a self-governing and self-sustainable environment for a wholesome and satisfactory development of youth personalities.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

“The Island” will be the first social-education-accommodation centre for adolescents coming both from Moldovan boarding-schools and reformatory centre created with the aim to provide social adaptation by addressing the immediate psychological, educational, rehabilitative, and health needs. One of the main strengths is also the fact that the centre will be as nature friendly as possible, equipped with the innovative heating and electricity technologies, hereby investing in preservation of natural resources and reducing impact on global warming. The idea is innovative in Moldova and there is lack of existing similar projects that could serve as a positive example for the building of “The Island”, however the research and pilot projects that were already held showed an outstanding result: all participants were able to find their place in life, create healthy families and follow the studies of their own choice.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Our way of working is very agile, which allows us quickly assess the results of current actions and tailor and modify the approach to fit the best, taking into account culture, habits, personalities of involved people. The project will have following main activities: * providing socially, economically and possibly physically disadvantaged adolescents with an alternative to the governmentally supported and thus constantly underfunded boarding institutions * creating a nurturing, caring, safe environment for socially, economically and possibly physically disadvantaged adolescents from Moldovan countryside * providing adequate qualified medical assistance especially to the sick orphan adolescents, who would otherwise not be able to receive appropriate diagnosis and treatment * providing the necessary rehabilitation and recreational facilities, assuring physical and psychological health and well-being of the adolescents * providing volunteer and internship opportunities to young motivated educated people from different countries * exposing Moldovan disadvantaged adolescents to volunteers and interns of diverse backgrounds, broadening their worldview and understanding of other cultures, languages and lifestyles * enabling individual adolescents to grow into self-reliant adults, promoting self-care rather than welfare * helping adolescents acquire the independent living skills and vocational training that they will need in order to leave their foster home or institution and that will allow them to become productive members of their respective communities * setting an encouraging precedent of a functioning self-sufficient, student-governing and environmentally sustainable boarding school.
About You
Organization:
Stichting Future for Youth
About You
First Name

Olga

Last Name

Shupak

About Your Organization
Organization Name

Stichting Future for Youth

Organization Country
Country where this project is creating social impact

, CU

How long has your organization been operating?

Less than a year

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Innovation
What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

Olga Shupak has been involved in NGOs since 1997 being a volunteer for Charitable Foundation “Clipa Siderala” in her home-country Moldova. Main area of her focus is integration into society of orphans who are lacking facilities and environment to gain adequate knowledge. While contributing to projects of “Clipa Siderala” focused on basic help for orphans (bringing cloth, sweets, toys into orphanages), it became clear to Olga that this cannot be the ultimate help orphans need, instead they need communication, guidance and support. Meanwhile she widened her activities by regular visits to an orphanage to a group of children and provided them some educational support (tailored games, psychological support, ‘homework’ tasks). Olga still keeps contact with members of that group. Currently they are young adults, being on different stages of studies, who still need support in their daily lives.
When “Clipa Siderala” approached Olga again in 2008 with the idea of a new project “The Island”, she was glad to notice that this project is a next step in all support that is provided to orphans – it is aimed on their integration into society after graduation, rather than on support of their basic material needs. In 2011 Olga establishes foundation in the Netherlands to “support children, youth and young adults who are in need of financial, educational, medical or any other support” (from the statute of the foundation); “The Island” becomes a shared project for both foundations: “Clipa Siderala” in Moldova and “Future for Youth” in the Netherlands.

Social Impact
Please describe how your project has been successful and how that success is measured

The results of this project will help to achieve some of the UN Millennium Development Goals established in the “UN Millennium Declaration” from September 2000.
Short-term results:
‘The Island’ participants will receive:
* Complying comfortable accommodation
* Equipped workrooms to learn crafts and gain professional skills
* Premises to gain household skills
* Healthy environment close to the nature
* Social and pedagogical care and programs that will develop personality and improve negative aspects of their behaviour
Long-term results:
The rehabilitation center will positively influence the Moldovan youth by:
* reducing crime level
* reducing poverty level
* increasing social integration level
* increasing education level
* increasing employment level
* regional development
Quantitative indicators for measuring whether the stated objectives and results have been achieved:
(1) Currently 60-70% of the youth from orphanages upon leaving them have a tendency to confront with the law repeatedly due to lack of appropriate skills, experience, self-confidence. Adolescents in ‘The Island’ will explore the family roles, professional skills and develop their talents and abilities, all together to preclude the tendency of getting involved in such activities. Therefore any progress in statistics (reduction of repeatedly committed crimes, alcoholism, drug abuse) will mean that the objective of the project has been achieved.
(2) The project promotes an equal opportunities-driven approach to the reform of the professional education and training for persons from socially vulnerable groups at the national level. The increase in number of adolescents having professional skills in a particular field will be a tangible result of a successful realization of the project.

How many people have been impacted by your project?

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

101- 1,000

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

‘The Island’ project is planned to be realized in 4 Stages. Stage I (2011-2013) – the building of the centre. Stage II (2013-2014) – equipping the centre. Stage III (from 2014) – daily running of the ‘Island’. Stage IV (from 2015) – introducing practices developed in ‘The Island’ to the current orphanage system.
By now three main milestones have been reached:
* carried out a pilot project on a small group of orphans
* bought a plot of land in Moldovan countryside
* confirmed support from governmental institutions
Current stage of the project is acquiring funding which might influence the timeline of the project implementation. As it is described in project plan, over the next three years we plan to have ‘The Island’ in the beginning of the full running phase.

Sustainability
What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

Lack of cooperation with the government and authorities might question the efficiency of the project. Understanding of this fact, made us to involve these organizations from the earliest stage of the project: the idea phase. We are building awareness of the problem among the society, focusing also on the people who can bring an influence by their high position in the society.

Current financial crisis has also impacted Moldova, and following reduction of funds for development assistance causes the additional efforts and time we need to spend to acquire finance resources for the implementation of the project.

Tell us about your partnerships

Moldova is one of the countries enabled to receive ODA (Official Development Assistance) from several governments to solve existing social problems of Moldova. Taking account that problem of abandoned children and their inability to adapt to the requirements of job markets and law is at the top of children and youth related domain in Moldova, it is a unique opportunity to attract international funding and financial instruments to work on solving it.

We partner with such institutions as:
* Ministry of Agriculture and Industry of Moldova
* Ministry of Labour, Social Welfare and Family of Moldova
* Department of Prisons of Moldova
* Ministry of Youth and Sport of Moldova
* Chamber of Commerce of Moldova
* Ministry of Culture of Moldova
* Swedish company ScandiDelux Lighting AB
* Global youth organization AIESEC

Explain your selections

National and regional governments realize the problems which are created by not optimal orphanage system in Moldova. Therefore they are eager to support the project and facilitate our collaboration with other organization. Currently we have 4 Ministries and Departments that support ‘The Island’.
Local administration in the place where ‘The Island’ is located (70 km to the north from the capital of Moldova), promotes voluntary help and involvement in the project among local people.
The support from individuals should not be underestimated, as they will be the people who will work with adolescents directly: living with them, challenging them, teaching them crafts and general knowledge, giving them an example and experience of the living in the society.
Customers, or the target group – adolescents that graduated from orphanages, will be actively involved in partial financing of their participation in the project. This will be achieved by cultivating fruits and vegetables, having their own farm. Also the outcome of their craft-learning in the form of shelf-ready products will be sold and the earned money will be spent on the financing of their living expenses.

How do you plan to strengthen your project in the next three years?

‘The Island’ will be built in a way that adolescents besides socializing, can also learn housekeeping and other skills, i.e. house building, cultivation, nature protection, arts, crafts, computer skills, communication - everything that is extremely useful for an independent life after leaving ‘The Island’. It will positively influence not only their character and personality, but also will raise significantly their ability to maintain themselves and to find a place in job market.
Over the next three years we plan to:
* build a permanent residential institution in Moldovan countryside equipped with appropriate academic, medical and recreational facilities that would provide a nurturing and safe environment for children
* design a development program requiring an extensive contribution from adolescents and little monitoring from staff, through which adolescents would be able to explore their leadership potential and acquire social skills necessary to take initiatives
* incorporate the recreational and rehabilitation capacity of the summer camp in Crimea (existing project that runs for 15 years) into the annual schedule of ‘The Island’
* design a system through which volunteers will be engaged in the project
* hire professionals for permanent positions of manual labour, who will share their professional skills with adolescents and later oversee their practical work
* establish long-term joint programs with the enterprises offering paid working positions and ensuring that the students within ‘The Island’ meet the requirements of the job positions

Challenges
Which barriers to employment does your innovation address?
Please select up to three in order of relevancy to your project.

PRIMARY

Lack of skills/training

SECONDARY

Lack of access to information and networks

TERTIARY

Lack of efficiency

Please describe how your innovation specifically tackles the barriers listed above.

The biggest issue we are facing is the lack of skills and trainings of adolescents leaving the orphanages. The system works in such a way, that during the whole life in orphanage they do not learn such basics of the living in the society as how to pay a bill, or budget planning, neither have they social skills to handle a proper communication with people outside the orphanage. In ‘The Island’ adolescents will be able to improve on those points, as well as learn professions that will allow them to be successful members of the society.
On a later stage of the project, we plan to set up earlier involvement in social rehabilitation by introducing our practices in day-to-day life of children in orphanages, thus improving current lack of efficiency of the orphanage system.

Are you trying to scale your organization or initiative?
If yes, please check up to three potential pathways in order of relevancy to you.

PRIMARY

Enhanced existing impact through addition of complementary services

SECONDARY

TERTIARY

Grown geographic reach: Multi-country

Please describe which of your growth activities are current or planned for the immediate future.

Our current activities are focused on enhancing existing impact and achieving the maximum reach within Moldova, with the planned growth to expand and share our practices to another countries.
The fact that we have always been engaged with orphanages all over Moldova (including Transnistria) and also the fact that Moldova is relatively small country, plays a significant role in achieving the whole-country coverage.
Within this project we see the enhancing existing impact by bringing social rehabilitation on the earlier stages of orphan’s lives, meaning getting involved while they are living in the orphanages, rather than waiting until they graduate.
Our next ambition is to bring our knowledge, experience and best practices to countries which face similar issues with orphanage systems.

Do you collaborate with any of the following: (Check all that apply)

Technology providers, NGOs/Nonprofits, For profit companies, Academia/universities.

If yes, how have these collaborations helped your innovation to succeed?

Collaboration between two NGOs ‘Future for Youth’ and ‘Clipa Siderala’ is successful due to their different experiences: experience on local market and experience of working with international companies.
One of the valuable collaborations is with Chamber of Commerce of Moldova, it bridges our project with another commercial organizations and technology providers in Moldova and abroad. Recent Economical Forum in Hamburg organized by Chamber of Commerce opened a wide range of opportunities in collaboration with German companies.
On a regular basis we involve university students from another countries in ‘The Island’ project by means of internship. They come for 2-3 months and contribute their ideas, experience and points of view to make ‘The Island’ being the best practice.