Since 2000, Abingdon School has been linked with Agape, a charity working with young people in Moldova, which lies on the eastern border of Romania. Formerly a Soviet republic, it became independent in 1991 but since then has struggled politically and economically, and is now the poorest country in Europe.
Agape, a Christian NGO, was set up to “serve the educational, emotional, physical and spiritual needs of those suffering the effects of poverty”. Since 2000 Abingdon School has undertaken fundraising for their work on a regular basis and, to date, over £75,000 has been raised. Much of this money has been used to support projects in the village of Ialoveni, especially providing equipment for Grigore Vieru School.
Nicu Bocàheală, Executive Director of Agape, said, “This is an important programme for our country, education is key and the partnership with Abingdon supports our community as well as students and teachers.”
Every year since 2003, sixth form students from Abingdon School have visited Moldova to run a summer camp for disadvantaged Moldovan children. During these camps the Abingdon pupils teach English, organise sporting, musical, and art based activities, and have run film and photography workshops. Over 120 Abingdon pupils have now been involved in these camps.
Adam Jenkins, who is in charge of the partnership at Abingdon School, said, “2003 was the first exchange trip between Abingdon and Moldova. Since then the partnership has really evolved into something of great value to everyone involved, students and staff, on both sides.”
The Moldova Project gives Abingdon students the opportunity to learn about a culture very different from their own – and to provide support and friendship to those in real need of it. This year the School has funded a visit to the UK for a group of 15 young people from Moldova and five adults (some teachers and some Agape workers). The group will be staying in one of the School’s boarding houses, will be given lessons by members of the Abingdon School staff, and take part in various sightseeing trips, including days in London and Oxford.
Alin Cebotaru, aged 16, from Chișinău, the capital of Moldova, said, “It’s a great opportunity to visit the UK, it’s very beautiful, I really like the architecture. The UK is very interesting and very cool.”