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In November of 2019 in Moldova, as a result of local elections, there were some political changes: the socialist party came to replace democrats. After this shift, they involved their principles to the governance aiming to control all of the political and social areas of the town. This brought about a situation, where the Youth Centre of Cahul District council and youth workers started to face challenges caused by the local authorities, they were forcefully fired and the centre suspended its de facto activities. Young people of the district lost their physical youth centre and many impactful opportunities provided by the youth work.

Delia Fortu

When the political shift shuts down a youth centre

I worked at the Youth Centre, which belonged to the Cahul District Council of Moldova. That organisation didn’t have legal status, so we could not independently do projects. The local authorities could give us legal status but they didn’t want to. I liked my work as a youth worker. All the finances came from the Cahul regional authorities. It was hard to cooperate with the regional authorities, as everything was decided on a political basis. When the authorities changed after the Moldovan local elections in October 2019, our work started to degrade. The new authorities changed all the workers replacing them with people from their allies. After the elections, they made the situation harder, they made us leave by our will. Also, when asked for money for activities, we did not get any. It was hard to agree to do anything.

 

In the youth centre, there were 14-35 years old young people. We had 3 workers, the manager and 2 youth workers. The new authorities started to limit our activities and events and make hardships for our work. For the last few years, we had almost a 2500 Euro budget which was cut up to 500 for this year. When I was fired, all the activities for young people were stopped.

 

All happened like this. Our manager of the centre went on maternity leave. I had to replace her position during that period. The authorities didn’t want to make the documents of transition and postponed that moment all the time. They said they had more important things than our youth centre related issues. After that, they started to check us and micromanage. At the joint meetings with the council, they announced that they were not satisfied with our work, we were not working properly, we were spending lots of money on utilities (electricity, water, gas, etc.). I continued to work for 2 people, yet my salary was the same. Then after some time, I was informed that they wanted to open a criminal case on me because I did not follow the policies and procedures. So they made me sign the resignation documents. Then they started spreading the news (also in mass media)  that I was a bad worker and I didn’t want to negotiate and cooperate with them. The issue was that they counted our working hours. However, we had to go to all the local rural areas and work with our community or go to the mayor’s office for signing some documents, which they counted as not being at the workplace. They destroyed my reputation and spread rumours on me in the mass media. The president of the regional council did all of this to me. All this was related to political matters in Moldova at that time. Apparently, the local authorities did not want youth to be there and made the people resign themselves.

 

There is a strange mentality in many post-soviet countries. I think the attitude towards youth is like “you are young, you don’t understand anything, we will decide all for you”. I think the situation with youth centres without legal status should be solved. In my view, giving legal status for having some projects and getting finances for them is the solution, which can also help the youth centre representatives to have independence.