Photo: Beginning of Life trains 250 school teachers across Moldova.
What began in the year 2,000 as a cry from the heart of Yulia Ubeyvolk in Chisinau, Moldova to help vulnerable women at risk of losing their babies through abortion or abandonment, has grown into a nationwide educational initiative known as Beginning of Life (BOL) that operates today across Moldova and much of Eastern Europe.
As Yulia talked with women in the municipal hospital she quickly realised that education was the way to prevent the loss and acute suffering that plagued so many. Along with a team of church volunteers, Yulia soon found opportunities in the schools to meet students and discuss sexual health, HIV and the values of God’s Kingdom.
Today, Beginning of Life reaches 33,000 young people and teenagers across 70 state schools. Their programmes also train around 250 leaders and teachers who promote the learning and values to a further 9,000 young people. In addition, BOL actively supports 1,200 vulnerable women and children through its network of centres. The impact of this amazing work is evidenced in the Way to Success training programme that doubles the number of young people who set their sights on entering a recognised profession and adopting personal goals. Participants focus on effective personal development through integrity, character building and leadership skills enabling graduates to get involved in social projects and civic initiatives.
There are challenges. The work of BOL is opposed by some and attempts are made to arouse suspicion and mistrust. There are spiritual attacks upon the team members and programme leaders. Also some of the young people have to deal with behavioral issues. The programme needs to be funded to avoid cut backs to programmes in particular communities. Yulia and her team want to extend the BOL programme into other places and more nations. They are seeking to bring improvement to the education system by developing more relevant, interactive and innovative methods of learning. Their vision is to equip and empower many more leaders as role-models and catalysts of change.
Galina was a teenager fighting complex issues and emotional problems. It was her mother, a local teacher, who referred her to BOL. She began tentatively and along with a friend joined an English course where she met other young people who encouraged her to join Way to Success. It took several months for Galina to work through her issues and to build trust. Today her life is transformed and she even volunteered to work with children on a summer day camp. She has turned her back on the negativity and selfishness of the past and wants to help make a difference in the lives of others.
Ion at 15 was clearly rebellious and had massive behaviour issues with lack of respect towards parents, teachers and without any sense of purpose for his life. Initially, he took no interest, but one day he suddenly changed and began to join in the class discussions and adapt his ways. Today he is more focussed on positive behaviour and moral principles and is studying hard to become a successful leader and example to others.
When Vlad joined BOL he was very reserved, uncommunicative, shy and spent most of his time in front of the computer screen. However, with support he began to get involved in social projects. He was surprised by the fun and special time he had and was soon attending the Way to Success classes. After two months his mother remarked on the change in his self-confidence.