Mobility in Moldova

2002 InGear

Following the disintegration of the USSR and the collapse of the Eastern Bloc economy, communities like Stefan Voda, in the former Soviet republic of Moldova, have seen incomes shrink, the cost of imported goods such as petroleum skyrocket, and their modest standards of living plummet. Personal mobility and productivity have suffered. As bus fares rose, the inhabitants of Stefan Voda could not afford to take public transport, the system collapsed, and a town once inter-connected via a bus system was left without transportation. Private cars are few. Moldovans are fond of bicycles, yet quality and price is a challenge for those on limited incomes. Nobody will sell a used bike, and new expensive imported bikes are the only ones available.

Local farmers on average walk 10–12 miles daily, to and from their fields. This takes two or more hours away from work. The average commute to work and school for teachers, students and others living outside the center of town is 30–45 minutes or more, exacerbated by the local tradition of returning home for lunch.

Peace Corps volunteer Marc Skelton, who works in a local non-governmental organization, Rural 21, coordinated with Stefan Voda. Marc teaches health to 6th and 7th graders, and facilitates HIV/AIDS seminars with local doctors and other medical professionals, to address the spread of this affliction resulting from the conversion of Moldova in general into a gateway for trafficking in women and drugs. Marc immediately saw that bicycles could contribute to better public health and the accomplishment of work and daily chores. Rural 21 agreed. The result is an initial request to P4P for 500 bicycles to establish a vocational educational program repairing and selling bicycles for local distribution.

P4P is presently seeking the $5,000 in funding necessary to finance an initial shipment and effectively capitalize a new project. If you would like to support Marc’s efforts, and those of Rural 21 and the people of Stefan Voda, send a check with the notation “Moldova” to Pedals for Progress, Box 312, High Bridge NJ 08829-0312.

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