Pre-Covid retirement granted me time to travel and Moldova in October 2018 was distinctly foreign compared to earlier trips to Vancouver, Amsterdam, and Zurich. In conversations before and following my trip, I discovered many people had either never heard of Moldova or, at the very least, needed a point of reference – – a small landlocked country in eastern Europe, with Romania on its western border and encircled by Ukraine to the north, east and south. However, as our tour group of American professional women discovered, while Moldova may be small in terms of land mass, population, and economy, its people revealed a genuine bigheartedness as they offered warm welcomes and deep generosity. That same kindness continues today as tens of thousands of refugees from war torn Ukraine pour over the border into Moldova.
For factual information and an on-the ground, local viewpoint, David Smith’s online newsletter, Moldova Matters includes “quick hits” that offer brief descriptions of what is happening at the moment, as well as “deep dives” on major issues affecting Moldova and that part of the world. I met David at his American styled ribs joint, Smokehouse, in Chișinău. (Yes, I know, not the usual Moldovan cuisine but when are ribs ever a bad menu choice?) David was a Peace Corp volunteer who stayed in country to open a barbeque place and brew pub.
As the distressful images fill our screens – bombs exploding, long lines of cars leading from cities under attack, or the bravery of a grandmother on a street corner telling a Russian soldier to go home – I want to offer solidarity. Hard to do, thousands of miles from the violence, but we made a small step last night when Richard and I participated in a peace vigil with Ukrainian flags waving and silk sunflowers in hand. For specific suggestions of how to help, David’s February 27 article provides information on how to support Ukrainian refugees in Moldova. And, thanks to my friend and intrepid traveler, Lani, for recommending this local perspective on international news.