Moldova is considered the poorhouse of Europe, with a fragile political situation and inadequate health, education and social frameworks. The predominantly agricultural economy has great difficulties selling its products locally, and is therefore completely dependent on exports. The unresolved conflict of many years with the break-away republic of Transnistria is also weakening the country’s economy, because it is here that substantial parts of the industrial production facilities are located.
80 percent of the 3.6 million Moldovans live below the poverty line. 25 to 30 percent of the population regularly work abroad, because there is no employment for them in Moldova.
While they are away they often leave their children behind, some of them are taken in by relatives, many of whom are elderly. Grandmothers are overburdened because they suddenly find themselves bringing up several grandchildren, while their health and financial situation leave them in no position to do so. Often children as young as twelve have to care for their younger siblings.
The children left behind are a major problem in Moldova. There are even TV programmes and songs aimed at migrant parents, asking them to return to their children.
Many children whose parents remain in Moldova are also neglected, thrown out by overburdened parents, or flee onto the streets from alcohol and drug-related problems or violence in their families.
The majority of children suffer from malnutrition and sickness, and are deeply psychologically troubled and damaged. Many live in the worst possible conditions in cellars, sewers, ruined buildings or holes in the ground and do not go to school. Life on the streets makes them mistrustful, aimless, and aggressive.
Without a daily routine and prospects for improvement, the call of alcohol and drug addiction is never far away. Their life is permeated by a sense of futility.