Mediator from Moldova: From energy crisis to emancipation
Silvia Feraru is a mediator who supports Roma in her community in Moldova. In an interview, she tells us how Russia’s war of aggression has affected her work.
In February 2022, Silvia Feraru, a mediator from Moldova, spoke to us about her work with Roma in her community. Since then, Russia’s war of aggression has changed the situation on the ground dramatically: More than 800,000 refugees fled to Moldova, and around 100,000 are still there. The inhabitants of Moldova, around 2.6 million people, have had to contend with various challenges such as sharp rises in gas prices. This is especially difficult for minorities such as Roma, many of whom face poverty as a result of high unemployment. Mediators like Silvia are helping them to apply for jobs or training programmes, and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has been providing support since 2019. Speaking to us again, Silvia Feraru describes how the new situation has affected her work as a mediator.
You are still working as a mediator for Roma in your community. What challenges has the Romani community faced in the last year?
A major challenge has been the constant increases in energy prices. With my work, I try to strengthen Roma and make them less vulnerable. But when you’re poor, it’s hard to cope with rising prices. It’s yet another hurdle. I’ve helped many Roma to apply for welfare benefits and grants for gas heating during the cold months of the year.
How has Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine affected your work?
Since our last interview, I’ve also been working with refugees who have been housed here in the village of Carpineni in western Moldova, near the Romanian border. Their terrible experiences have really affected me. I often find myself on the verge of tears. I give them food, but this has meant that I’ve had to defend myself against accusations from my local community that I’m giving the refugees too much attention, although the problems facing the Roma are more pressing. In our small village of just 10,000 inhabitants, that has been the biggest challenge: Getting involved while meeting the needs of the different groups.
Does being a woman present any specific challenges in your role as a mediator?
Yes, women are not seen as leaders in my community. Men have more opportunities to develop their skills. We women have to be brave and make decisions that will create opportunities for ourselves and others. We can’t wait for anyone else to do it for us.