The dictionary defines “charity” as generosity and helpfulness especially towards the needy or suffering; aid given to those in need; benevolent goodwill toward love of humanity. All these definitions illustrate the activity of Caritas Moldova. The director, Andrei Bolocan, told us about its activity.
Andrei, you are a doctor and the director of a charity organization. What determined you to change the white coat of a doctor for the function of director of a charity organization and dedicate your life to helping the poor? Weren’t you afraid of the responsibility that was put on your shoulders by the Bishop Anton Cosa, when you accepted this position?
Doctors – are one of the oldest and honorable professions. The person who choses this profession must not only love people, but also he/she must be ready to offer personal time, own power and abilities for the wellbeing of people. We were taught at the university: “Be like a candle which burns itself but gives light to others”
Excellent professors like Ludmila Testimitanu taught us medicine with the example of doctors who healed not only the body of the ill but also tried to understand his/her problems.
People trusted in doctors, they were reliable. Simplicity, wisdom and the wish to help are the qualities that every doctor should have.
The social domain, just like medicine, means giving up on oneself for the welfare of those needy who live next to us and need our help. That is why from psychological point of view my work hasn’t changed much. And talking about achievement of new professional abilities – starting with 2008 I worked at the Austrian charity organization “Concordia”, founded by the Austrian priest Georg Sporschill SJ. My participation, and afterwards the assignment in the position of director of Caritas Moldova in May 2016 didn’t require any considerable changing of my professional skills. I will have to admit that my assignment as the director of Caritas Moldova was an opportunity to bring something new in the organization by keeping the nicest traditions from the people who worked in Caritas for many years. Of course, I will do my best to justify His Eminence’s trust.
What does Caritas represent? What is it special for? Who founded this organization?
Caritas was founded as the organization that does charity activity and helps to realize the social teaching of the Catholic Church. The first organization, which organized caregiving for the sick, appeared in 1617, but the foundation year is considered 1891, when the Pope Leo XIII published the encyclical “Rerum novarum”. Since then such organizations appeared in the whole world and for coordination of their activity was created Caritas Internationalis. 165 national Caritas organizations are now members of Caritas Internationalis, including Caritas Moldova. In 1995 the bishop of Roman – Catholic Church, Anton Cosa, founded Caritas Moldova. At the beginning, Caritas was a religious mission and in 2015, it was reorganized as Charity Foundation, who is now an active member of Caritas Europa, compound of 49 national organizations.
What achievements does Caritas have in Moldova?
During all the years of active work in Moldova Caritas has helped thousands of people. Soup Kitchens, medical-social centers, aid for health institutions, programs for prevention of TB, help for schools, help for flooded regions – and the list may be continued. In Moldova the activity of Caritas is also characterized by opening of Day Centers for children and youth from underprivileged families in Balti, Tiraspol, Ribnita etc.; rehabilitation center for children with physical illnesses in Singerei town, ensuring hospitals with medical and paramedical equipment, offering scholarships for students; these and many other services are offered by Caritas Moldova for underprivileged people.
We help all people, no matter of their religion or political beliefs. The most important for us is offering people help.
How did you manage to conduct such a big amount of work in our country? Who is helping you?
All our activities are conducted not only thanks to the work of our employees, but also thanks to our European partners from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Poland, Italy and Romania.
Which direction of your activity you consider as priority? How exactly do you help the needy?
Now the main activity direction is the work with youth and children from poor families, help for homeless people and starting with 1999 medical – social home care for disabled people. Our medical centers are located in Chisinau, in Stauceni, in Rascov village Camenca district, in Stircea Glodeni district, in Tiraspol and Bender. We help all people, no matter of their religion or political beliefs. The most important for us is offering people help. In 2016, we helped 203 patients at our centers and 610 people received home care. They were aided by 6 mobile teams of professionals including 12 nurses and 6 social workers. Besides that, we train the relatives in home care. Last year we conducted 6 workshops and 88 people were trained in homecare.
In Germany, where first Caritas was founded, the activity of the organization is supported on governmental level. How is the situation in our country?
The situation in Germany and Moldova are very different. You will be surprised to know that the biggest employer in Germany is Caritas. Caritas has more employees than such giants as Mercedes or BMW. The employees of Caritas are not just office workers, who work in front of computers, but social workers, nurses, caregivers – people who work directly with beneficiaries.
The relationships between Caritas and government are relationships between those who offer social services and those who are ready to buy these services. The market of social services is very big and the governments of European countries understood at some moment that they could not answer to all requests on social services. That is why, for example the Austrian or German governments, buy from Caritas those services.
In Moldova, we also develop such a system. Now we work very fruitful with National Health Insurance Company; they cover a part of the costs of home care services. We have good partnership with Ministry of Health, Labor and Social Protection.
We must be realistic and understand that it is not enough only to wish for achieving a European level of social protection. For that, we should also work as Germans or Austrians, in that way we will beneficiate from social services on European standards. In addition, of course, we must change our attitude towards those who need our help; we can see the welfare of a society according to the attitude towards elderly, children and disabled.
With what problems are people addressing to Caritas?
Different. Mainly we help disabled and/or lonely elderly. In general, these people suffered a stroke or a heart attack. People with Parkinson, Alzheimer, and cancer also address often. Usually people call us and ask for help for their neighbor, left alone by their children. Our nurses give the necessary medical aid, our social workers cook, feed the beneficiary; they clean the home and help with personal hygiene. Every person has personal dignity and this dignity means the possibility to have a decent life and leave decently the last days of life.
In the society, the topic of euthanasia is still a great issue. What do you think? Does it worth extending the misery and pain of terminally ill people by denying their request of leaving this world on their own will?
Also in the issue of euthanasia, I follow the teaching of the church. The holly John Paul II in his encyclical “Centesimus Annus” named a row of human rights, which we should respect. The first one is the right of life from the conceiving until its natural ending. The human personality – is the figure of God and this means that the essence of people is deeply related to God. We canceled the capital punishment in jails. Who are we to end lives in hospitals?
Do you share your experience in the field of home care?
Certainly! We conduct seminars and conferences where our nurses teach other people the basics of health care and namely: hygiene, sanitary disinfection, transporting of the ill, prevention of bedsores. We disseminate medical literature, including edited by Caritas. We combine theory with practice. At our workshops the trainees put in practice the theory they learn. The trainees share their problems and the difficulties and together we try to find solutions for them.
In Europe volunteering is wide spread. Does Caritas Moldova have volunteers who want to help the needy?
Indeed in Europe volunteer work is a category of charity. Volunteers are ready to help for free the needy. Also our citizens have the wish to help the needy, regardless of religion or beliefs. And what is interesting: this is the generation who grew up in so called “wild capitalism”; beginning with school they are taught to pay for everything. This means that the situation is not that bad. The basic Christian values still exist in our people.
What inspires you in your work?
Our main purpose in this world is to do good things. Everything else is vanity. Everything passes by, only good deeds remain.
The good flame of love
The word “Caritas” from Latin means charity, sacrificed love for people near us. The logo Caritas – the flamed cross – is a white cross on white background. The vertical line of the cross means the connection between God and humans and the horizontal line means the union between people. The middle of the cross emanates flames in 4 directions – the symbol of warmth, support and help. The active charity work of the Catholic community from Caritas was perceived by many generations of different religions and political beliefs in the whole world.* Translation from Russian