By Lauren Ribant, Regional Grants Officer
As a Regional Grants Officer for The Rotary Foundation, my job is to review Rotary grant applications and support Rotary club members in creating sustainable humanitarian projects. I have had the pleasure of working with a number of passionate Rotarians striving to make a difference in the world. So when I was offered an opportunity by the Rotary Club of Guilford (Greensboro) to visit an ongoing vocational training team (VTT) global grant project taking place in Chisinau, Moldova, I was delighted at the chance.
The Rotary Club of Guilford (Greensboro) in North Carolina, USA and the Rotary Club of Chisinau Centru in Chisinau, Moldova have had a continuing partnership with the goal of enhancing nursing capacity and infrastructure in Chisinau and the surrounding areas of Moldova. This partnership has resulted in an impactful number of projects consisting of groups of nursing and other health professionals from North Carolina and Chisinau traveling back and forth to provide and receive training. Their most recent global grant project trained nurses and nursing faculty at local colleges, educated homecare workers and hospice nurses, and consulted with the Nicolae Testemitanu State University of Medicine and Pharmacy on the development of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program.
In October, I traveled to Chisinau to witness a team of four nursing professionals and one public health professional from the United States provide a week-long training to the nurses and nursing faculty of the RAISA PACALO National College of Medicine and Pharmacy (hereafter Nursing College), these activities being just a portion of the full project scope. The trainings took place both in the Nursing College classrooms, aimed at nursing students and faculty, and in the Nursing College’s associated Oncology Institute, aimed at nurse professionals. The training topics covered health education and promotion, symptom management for chemo patients, emergency care, and public health, all which were identified as a capacity need in collaboration with the nursing faculty at the Nursing College.
I had the delight of visiting during the same time as Dr. John Philp and his wife and fellow Rotarian Chris Philip, who were tasked with a Cadre evaluation of the project. This meant throughout my five days in Chisinau, I was not only able to witness the VTT trainings, but also join John and Chris during their busy days full of interviews with all the project beneficiaries and stakeholders, hearing constructive feedback from those who participated in the project themselves.
Overall the feedback we heard from the beneficiaries was extremely positive, with more than one group of individuals wondering how they could further collaborate with the project. After reflecting upon the trainings I had witnessed and conversations that took place, I understood that the project was successful, in my opinion, for the following reasons:
- Strong partnership – a strong partnership between sponsor Rotary clubs is usually a reliable indication of strong project outcomes. In addition to the strong partnership between the Rotary Clubs of Chisinau Centru and Guilford (Greensboro), positive professional relationships were also developed between the VTT trainers and nursing faculty at the Nursing College. These partnerships breed trust and honest communication, which are foundational components of a successful project.
- Trainings based on real needs – when training topics are decided upon in collaboration with the beneficiaries themselves, the trainings are going to be much more effective. Because of their strong partnership, the VTT members were in continuous communication with the Nursing College in the many months leading up to the training visit in order to ensure they would deliver desired training topics. This allowed the VTT members to prepare trainings that were tailored to the exact needs of the Nursing College, which provided a clear benefit to the college, further strengthening the desire to participate in future trainings.
- Cooperating Organization participation – this global grant project has brought together various non-Rotary organizations, including the Moldovan Ministry of Health and Social Protection, and universities in Chisinau, North Carolina, and Boston, to work towards one common goal. The various organizations involved in this project have resulted in the ability to bring reliable expertise to execute trainings. Rotarians are skilled at many things, and being the glue that brings all the necessary individuals and organizations together to do good may be one of the most admirable strengths of Rotary.
I will never forget the joy in the health professionals voice when talking about the training opportunities they have had as a result of this project and what that meant for their colleagues and patients. Nor will I forget the dedication and emotional responses I heard from the VTT trainers’ reflection of their week of training. These are clear indications of successful and impactful projects, and just one of the many successful global grant projects The Rotary Foundation has been able to fund as a result of the hard work and dedication of passionate Rotarians.
(A special thanks to Rotarians Steve Mackler, Gene Parker, Irina Rusanovschi, the Rotary Club of Guilford (Greensboro), the Rotary Club of Chisinau Centru, the Rotary Club of Chisinau Cosmopolitan, and District Governor Cristian Jurji for their generosity and hospitality!)