Interview with Dr. Vladimir Ubeivolc
Director of “Beginning of Life”
Tell us a bit about yourself. Did you grow up in Moldova? In a Christian family?
I was born in Chisinau at a time when Moldova was part of the Soviet Union. My father was a devout communist, and my mother – a member of the Evangelical Baptist Church, so I spent my childhood in two worlds. In those years, it was forbidden for them to bring their children to church, so my mother read me the Bible at home ( they were mostly the Gospel stories). When I was 18, my father was miraculously healed by God from an incurable disease and as a result, he accepted Christ and became a member of the church. My decision was a little later – when I was 22 years old.
I have a wife, Julia , with which we have been together for 17 years and are happy that not only do we believe in one God, but we can also serve together! We have a daughter, Anna. I am the executive director of the NGO “Beginning of Life” and pastor of the Evangelical Church ” Light of the World ” in Chisinau .
Can you give us some facts about the problem of human trafficking in Moldova?
Due to corruption, poverty and unemployment, many Moldovan citizens seek employment abroad. About a million of our citizens (with a total population of 3.5 million) regularly work outside the country, despite the fact that their families still live in Moldova. From that million, about 300,000 suffered from various forms of exploitation – as sex and labor trafficked workers.
In 2014, Moldovan citizens were granted the right to travel to EU countries without a visa, so we expect even a greater migration of people out of our country. The main problem lies in the fact that under international law it will become harder to talk about people as “victims” of trafficking, when many know what is involved, and enter consciously.
How did you become involved with Beginning of Life?
Beginning of Life was founded in 2000 by my wife, Julia. In the first years, I helped her only in matters relating to the relationship with the authorities. Since 2004, I became more and more involved in this ministry and since 2008 it has become my main place of work and ministry.
Can you tell us briefly what services you provide?
Since 2014, Beginning of Life has provided the following services at our various centers:
1) Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation; House of Change: There are13 places in this center and the service we provide is the rehabilitation of women who suffer from various forms of exploitation. The program lasts 1 year with the possibility of extension, if necessary. We provide a holistic range of services involving the following: social services, mental health care, medical services, assistance in obtaining a profession and raising the level of education, spiritual care, as well as assistance in subsequent employment and successful re-integration.
2) Dream House provides assistance to at-risk girls, aged 14-17 years. This house can accommodate up to 10 girls and is a three-year program.
3) Psychological Art Studio combines psychological assistance, Christian counseling and art therapy in three areas: visual arts, crafts and pottery workshop. Assistance is provided for beneficiaries of the other centers of Beginning of Life, as well as other disadvantaged groups (single mothers, children from large families, single-parent families, etc.)
4) Urban Center – Youth Centre provides several programs designed for children, adolescents and young people. They are taught the skills of critical and creative thinking and the formation of character, based on Christian values. As a result, they become the basis for the generation that will transform the country in the future.
What is your involvement in the organization?
As Executive Director, my goal is to come together with the team coordinators to develop a strategic vision for the organization. I also do team-building and fund raising.
How is the organization funded?
The organization is funded 100% by donations from foundations, partner organizations, individuals and churches.
And lastly, is finding long-term partners who wish to contribute and invest in the transformation of our country.
Do you partner and network with other organizations in Europe? Russia? Ukraine?
Of course. We have partners in England, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine, but for various reasons, we rarely work in Russia.
Does Beginning of Life have a good relationship with the government? With the police?
We actively cooperate with two government ministries; The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Family and Social Protection. For various reasons, cooperation with the police is very limited. In addition, we are actively working with international organizations such as the International Organization for Migration, La Strada and others.
What are your biggest challenges?
The greatest challenge is the opening of borders for citizens of Moldova. No one can predict what is in store for us, but we expect that tens of thousands of Moldovans will try to illegally stay in the EU, and thereby become an easy prey for criminal groups involved in exploitation.
Another challenge is the level of corruption in the country, which makes circumstances unbearable for citizens to stay in the country.
Our prayer needs are:
- political peace in Moldova
- succesfull rehabilitation for new generation at our rehab/re-integration program
- growing our prevetion/education program in a new academic year
- growing our busines projects, openning new job opportunities
- developing our research center