Stories of Change

Top: Casey and Andrew checking into the event, Middle: Youth participate in tournament, Bottom: Young girl works on team sign

Celebrating Sportsmanship and Unity in Moldova

Summer is in full swing in Moldova, and amidst the warm breeze and bright sunshine, a fun and exciting event recently took place in the heart of the city. Through our local partner, Zdorovii Gorod (Healthy City), CWS supporteda volleyball tournament for local Moldovans and Ukrainian refugee youth who have recently made Moldova their home.

The day was buzzing with energy as teams of different age groups, 14 and under, 15-17 and 18+, gathered to show off their volleyball skills. The space was filled with excitement as players and fans created colorful posters to cheer on their teams.

CWS Moldova Humanitarian Response Team Leader, Andrew Blakely, and Protection Program Manager, Casey O’Neil teamed up with our friends and partners from Zdrovii Gorod to form the team, “Mighty Ducks”. While they may not have been quite so “mighty”, the team had a blast. “We were awful but it was a fabulous time!” Casey said.

The tournament continued into Saturday morning as teams battled for the winning title. Winners were awarded medals and trophies and all enjoyed snacks and ice cream, adding to the spirit of celebration and fun.

What made this tournament even more special was that it resulted in increased visibility of our programs. “Many people passing by stopped to ask what the event was about and to thank organizers for putting it together. This was exciting because the location was strategically selected to improve visibility for future events,” Casey explained. She added that the turnout of Ukrainian children was the largest ever, thanks to the collaboration with a local Refugee Accommodation Center to promote the event. Having positive representation from both Moldovan and Ukrainian youth is one of the goals of these tournaments. It creates an environment that promotes integration and social cohesion which in turns makes the Balti community stronger and safer for everyone.

At the conclusion of the event, only a few participants left with medals that titled them as “winners”. The true victory, however, was that of a community, coming together and celebrating the joy of unity, welcome and friendship.

CWS is grateful for our partner, UMCOR, whose support allows events like this one to happen. To learn more and support CWS’ work with Ukrainian refugees in Moldova, click here.