Vladimir Ubeivolc is the founder and president of the Beginning of Life ministry in Moldova. With his wife beside him, Vladimir helps rescue and rehabilitate Moldova’s many victims of the tragedy of human trafficking. Recently, he was travelling in Canada as part of our Hope in Action Tour. Here in his words, Vladimir tells us why he does the good work he does in Moldova:
“Beginning Of Life was established because my wife, Yulia, was concerned about the problem of teenage pregnancies in Moldova. Many young women in Moldova are pregnant as a result of being raped and abused at a very young age. We started to work to rehabilitate and socially reintegrate these women in the year 2000. First we established a foundation and five years later we established this organization.
Moldova has the highest rate of human trafficking in the world. We are working to overcome corrupt political and economic systems. After the fall of the Soviet Union, hundreds of thousands of people lost their jobs. It was a case where an old system was destroyed and the new system destined to replace it was not yet built. Many people lived in poverty. Regrettably, this situation was used by the traffickers and the mafia to recruit young girls for sale outside as well as inside Moldova.
To help alleviate this strife, we run two programs at Beginning of Life. The first program is our Rehabilitation Centre where we work with the girls who suffer from exploitation. We offer them a long term rehabilitation program which is designed to reintegrate them into society in five different areas, improving their intellectual, social, emotional, physical and spiritual condition. At the moment we have room for 13 women in our centre and since we opened more than 55 girls have been through our program. In the next few years we are seeking to expand our rehabilitation centre to support more girls.
Our second program is prevention where we do a lot of work among high school students and with girls and boys from vulnerable backgrounds, from broken families as well as with Moldova’s orphans. Each year we reach out to 15,000-20,000 high school students and we have authorization from the Ministry of Education to do our prevention work on the national level so we can go to the public schools and teach about human trafficking and other related issues.
To this end, we also publish a magazine called Escape Magazine. We started this project four and a half years ago but very fast we realized that to just talk about human trafficking is not an effective way to reach youth. We began to use this magazine as an educational tool where we talked about critical thinking, about the dreams and hobbies of Moldovan children. 50% of the articles are written by high school students from our country and 50% by our team. So this is a very interesting tool to use to talk with our youth in their own language, in their own territory about values and about bigger social issues where human trafficking is involved.
Single mothers are one of our highest risk groups. Many of the single mothers we assist are really young and are rejected by their parents because of their unwilling pregnancies. Most of them have lost their jobs or cannot work because they have infants to care for without the support of their families. Our interventions are extremely important here because these young women are at a very high risk of further sexual exploitation.
At Beginning of Life, we are not directly involved in rescuing girls, rather we work closely with the international organizations for immigration in Eastern Europe and they work with police in different countries in Europe, Turkey, Russia, and other places. They bring exploited women (home) to Moldova where they stay in a crisis centre for a very short time until they can secure the documents needed so that they can be sent to us to receive holistic support for rehabilitation and healing.
We also feel that it is paramount to incorporate the message of Christ into our work. Many of the girls who were abused and raped in their childhood are angry against God, they are depressed and they do not see any kind of faith inside their souls. We are sensitive to that pain and show them the love of God not through words but through our actions. We motivate them to attend church or prayer groups. At the moment at least half of the girls at our centre have accepted Gods love; have accepted Christ and they are very active in the church.
Beginning of Life formed an international alliance with Partners International Canada (PI Canada) after PI Canada became aware of these acute problems in Moldova. We were identified as a group that was highly credible and was doing some great work on the ground. PI Canada seeks to meet some of the funding needs of Beginning of Life to allow Christians to support our work at a grass route level.
Human trafficking is a complex field and we work with people with tremendous knowledge and expertise. We utilize our connection with the government and media to effectively make a difference in Moldova. We have really benefited from working with PI Canada and look forward to continuing this good relationship moving forward.
Maybe the biggest challenge we face in our work is that in Eastern Europe people live in a culture of shame. They don’t want to open their pain or their internal life to other people. It’s very hard to identify people in need. There are many people who are in need but they try to keep it a secret. Everyone tries to show that everything is okay and everyone is fine with that.
We are extremely grateful to those here in Canada who feel inspired to be a part of of this ministry in Eastern Europe and Moldova. Whether it be individuals, churches, groups or businesses who get involved. We would like to welcome you to continue to support us along with PI Canada with your prayers and many intellectual resources.”