February 23, 2003 - Personal Web Page: Chad Pfitzer's Peace Corps Moldova Experience

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Moldova: Peace Corps Moldova : The Peace Corps in Moldova: February 23, 2003 - Personal Web Page: Chad Pfitzer's Peace Corps Moldova Experience

By Admin1 (admin) on Sunday, February 23, 2003 - 9:10 am: Edit Post

Chad Pfitzer's Peace Corps Moldova Experience

Chad Pfitzer's Peace Corps Moldova Experience

Chad Pfitzer's Peace Corps Moldova Experience

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Since the fall of communism throughout the former Soviet Union, most former republics have attempted to find their place in our world. Moldova is not an exception. It is often referred to as a country in transition, yet still remains the poorest country in Europe. “Contrary to expectations, these changes brought the country to a catastrophic decline in living standards, devaluation of moral and ethical norms, and no guarantee of human security. In early 2000, GDP made up only 40 percent of the level of 1990.” (Excerpt from the International Organization for Migration.)

Like many poor regions throughout the world, Moldova’s art culture has suffered. The following is a proposal for Ten Thousand Villages to help sustain an art that can contribute to the development of Moldova.

Ecaterina lives in Clishova Noua, a small village in the center of Moldova. She has been weaving natural and organic woolen products since 1990, yet has known the art all her life. It was passed down from her mother, from her mother’s mother, and from numerous generations before.

The patterns she uses are from 100 to 350 years old. She has modeled her products after patterns from museums, old pictures, and descriptions taken from elderly residents in the district of Orhei. She reproduces the old patterns and is continuously creating new ones based on the older styles. She made it clear that her patterns and designs are products of Moldova and the region that is today Moldova. Although Moldova’s identity has struggled through many changes, Ecaterina said her patterns have not been influenced or changed by Russian or Asian cultures.


Ecaterina makes many woven goods. The most popular are the carpets. The picture to the left has just a few examples of the many colors and designs that are offered. The carpets with the rose in the center surrounded by a geometric symbol are one the oldest and most popular designs. These all can be created for placemats, doormats, carpets for the floor, and in many shapes and sizes.

Another very popular product she makes (or at least the Americans think so) are the purses. Some are characterized by geometric shapes and others just a plentitude of colors. Again, these can be created in several sizes and shapes for both adults and children.

Another example is the national dress. This is characterized by bontisha (shirt) and a catrentza (a type of apron). These types of clothes are worn for dance shows and cultural celebrations.

Ecaterina specializes in souvenirs that are both traditional and of good value. Some other products include carpets for chair seats and car seats, stylish blankets, and carpets for children’s’ rooms or beds. Everything is made by hand, the quality is guaranteed, and matching sets can be easily created.


Ecaterina uses a specific loom called “Carimbi” in Romanian. The loom shown in the picture is 50 years old and is located in a school in the village where all Ecaterina’s work takes place.

The most important step in all the weaving, she said, is the placement of wool on the looms. The thread is chosen for either its thickness or thinness, depending on the goal. Then, the pattern must be transferred onto the product by choosing the correct size and colors.

Ecaterina starts the whole process by choosing the best wool Moldovan sheep have to offer. All the factors of color, length, coarseness, and the health of the sheep (shiny or dull wool) are taken into account when she purchases the wool. She then washes the wool in hot water and detergent and removes all the imperfections or foreign objects. It is then laid to dry in the sun. She makes the wool into thread by spinning it, and it is re-washed again.

The selection of colors is next. Ecaterina knows what plants make what colors and begins collecting them in the summer and fall. She lays the plants to dry for about one week in the shade and then turns them over to dry for another week. Then they are placed in a sack and stored in a dry place to be used when needed.

The process of coloring begins by boiling the specified plant in water for an hour. The solution is drained of the plant extracts and then the wool is placed in the solution and boiled for 30 minutes. Then a fixer is put in the water: vinegar, pickled beets, cabbage water, or juice from a lemon depending on the color and plant. The wool is then rinsed in water and laid out to dry in the shade.

*Unfortunately, some of Ecaterina’s colors cannot come from plants, so they have to be made by artificial means. However, none of the other means are toxic and all can be organic (she will not misrepresent).

Ecaterina’s work is made 100% by hand beginning with choosing the best wool, to weaving the product, and finally adding the special touches. Ecaterina supports a truthful work environment by being sincere with her workers, having a set price for her products for customers, and by not exaggerating the price to people and under exaggerating the cost to her workers.


An extremely sad situation is taking place in Moldova. Because of the unemployment rates, the poor economy and lack of work, Moldova’s women have become a target of trafficking for prostitution throughout Europe, primarily in the Balkans and Turkey. The women dream of having a better life in a richer country and welcome the chance to flee Moldova, even illegally.

Although Moldova is one of the smallest countries in the region, 64% of all women trafficked in Europe come from Moldova. From Moldova’s 4 million people, an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 women have been trafficked.

Ecaterina gives young women a reason to stay in their home country. With the help of a small grant from a local NGO (non-governmental organization), she currently teaches and employs 20 women from 16 to 30 years old. More business would mean more money to hire and train more women.

Although Moldovans love and appreciate Ecaterina’s products, the economic situation does not allow the locals to buy them. And due to Moldova and European laws, Ecaterina cannot obtain a visa to sell her products in other countries. For her to sustain her business during Moldova’s economic troubles, the majority of her sales need to come from foreigners.


The infrastructure is here. Ecaterina is a well-established businesswoman and is able to get all the materials she needs from Moldova. Currently Marcus Notheisen and Connie Cook would be happy to be your “middle men.” We are both Peace Corps volunteers and will be here for another year. Angela Trubceak is a Moldovan who lives in Orhei, a town 22 km from Clishova Noua. She speaks Romanian and Russian, the principle languages of Moldova, and has a good grasp on the English language. She is, in fact, the one who introduced Ecaterina to Peace Corps volunteers in Moldova. She is also a Peace Corps teacher of Russian and knows the ins and outs of the culture. She would be a good contact after we finish our service. She is shown in the picture below.

*Samples of Ecaterina’s work can be found throughout the USA if needed. Her products are prized and under great demand from Peace Corps volunteers who have thus, sent presents to family and friends. Several examples can be found in Denver, Colorado, where two were shown to one of your stores and greatly praised.[i]

[i] Pictures taken by Chad Pfitzer-Peace Corps Volunteer

Proposal and Translations done by Connie Cook and Marcus Notheisen-Peace Corps Volunteers

Information about situation in Moldova is from the International Organization for Migration (IOM)

Edited by Kristin Young-Peace Corps Volunteer

Last Updated: 12/02/02 06:32 PM

7-17-2002 1- First day of English Camp was a perfect time to celebrate Gina Hey’s birthday. Mihial Seroka wowed by Sarah’s…conversation(s)?

7-17-2002 2- Happy Birthday! Hey Gina, wha’d ya get? Cake and booze. Nice! This was the night before the kids showed up. Alcohol wasn’t allowed at English Camp 2002.

7-17-2002 3- Adrienne Mullock assesses the damage.

7-21-2002 1- After four days of rain and blank stares, we had a breakthrough with musical chairs. The theme of the days was “Thankgiving”. Mihail, being a Florida State Alumnus, was my inspiration for musical chairs to the cadence of the “tomahawk chop” idea. It was a great success. The kids loved it. I felt like a million bucks after the whole thing was said and done. The photo is a little fuzzy due to the humidity in the room.

7-21-2002 2- Hot damn! Mihial is to the far right (with the shades and the pigskin) and there’s yours’ truly with the drum and plastic bottle. We told the youngsters all about the trials and tribulations of Native Americans and had a great time in the meanwhile. Those who lost were required to dance in circle around the few remaining participants until all were united in crazed chant. Thanks Mihail.

7-21-2002 3- Here’s everybody immediately after musical chairs.

7-21-2002 4- We had a hard time putting the kids to bed. They were really great.

7-21-2002 5- Photo of all the English Camp 2002 counselors. I think we all bonded more than anyone initially thought. If you’re wondering why Jen Moncel (middle) is holding her hand in disgust, it’s because a bee stung her earlier in the day.

7-21-2002 6- Melissa Easton and Sarah Yochim are all smiles after a long day at English Camp.

7-21-2002 7- Gina and Adrienne looking funky…I mean funny!

7-21-2002 8- Take your nametag off at the bar please. Melissa, Jen, and Sarah sharing wonderful memories of the day. Whatever you’re doing keep it up…your lookin’ great!

7-21-2002 9- What’s your ffffff…problem? Alan Murdock at a Vadul Lui Voda discotecha/bar.

7-22-2002 1- Welcome to teambuilding.

7-22-2002 2- The Moldovan counselors taking the helm with teaching trust at teambuilding.

7-22-2002 3- Jason Matthews was a superstar. If it looks like he’s gonna explode…that’s because he’s building steam to yell at the kids. I woke up that fine July morning to… “THE PEOPLE UNITED…WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED!!!” Right on brother!

7-22-2002 4- Teambuilding takes time.

7-22-2002 5- It’s necessary to build trust slowly and work together as a team before taking on too large a challenge. Here the kids lift one of their partners through a human conveyor belt of sorts (for lack of a better term).

7-22-2002 6- Falling from this picnic table and chair placed aloft, into the arms of others, takes more courage than one might imagine.

7-22-2002 7- One of the survivors.

7-22-2002 8- Jason started getting a little crazy with the kids (not knowing his own strength). That’s right…every time…just shove ‘em…a little…HARDER! In all seriousness, Jason did a great job, and has my commendations.

7-22-2002 9- That’s not me, but they eventually dragged my bones up on that chair. For a split second on the way down I saw life flash before the eyes. I felt really relieved to have done the whole thing. They said I had good form too. Sweet! Guess skydiving is next, huh?

7-22-2002 10- Where bad kids went for beatings. I’m totally kidding. This building is where the counselors “lived” for 8 days. We should have called it funkville (bathroom issues).

7-22-2002 11- The only cabin for guys. Minutemen (real men) on top and Redcoats (co-ed) on the bottom.

7-22-2002 12- Another cabin, this one, as all the others, except for the Minuteman/Redcoat cabin, for female participants only.

7-22-2002 13- The kids got to decorate their cabins according to holiday and name. Here is a Redcoat door. Why do Redcoats have an American flag you ask? Good question.

7-22-2002 14- Minutemen logo. My boyz! Yeah…the Minutemen! Real men! They were great. They kept a clean ship and ran things according to the book. No funny stuff. They brought the “Captain Jack” song to camp and generally kicked ass on protecting their turf. I was thoroughly proud of ‘em.

7-22-2002 15- Lisa Bunker running a class on something.

7-22-2002 16- Girls…you’re supposed to be having fun! I tried getting them to move, placing Frisbees conveniently nearby, but they wouldn’t hear of it. Oh well. Carry on.

7-22-2002 17- I helped with physical education all week. This day, I got a break to take photos of English Camp 2002. Victor Margret (with the ball), Jen Moncel, and Maia McFadden looking to begin class.

7-22-2002 18- Relays. Nice. Work ‘em!

7-22-2002 19- Jen opening up a can of whoop-ass on some poor kid. She’s actually yelling directions. This was our basketball court /four-square death pit/discotecha dance floor.

7-22-2002 20- PE class in full motion.

7-22-2002 21- Balls.

7-22-2002 22- Rita paying attention in business class.

7-22-2002 23- Anna Cavnar and a Moldovan counselor teaching business.

7-22-2002 24- Nathan Crane teaching a billiards class!

7-22-2002 25- There’s a reason why this commentary is pathetic. I can’t remember what day of the week it is let alone someone’s name and class from 5 months ago. I’m a moron…I know. Melissa had some download problems (some of these photos are hers) and then my hard-drive bit the dust. I apologize about the delay. All apologies aside, here is a Moldovan counselor teaching class.

7-22-2002 26- Art! I had the distinct pleasure of working with Jen Moncel through the entirety of English Camp 2002 in both PE and art. We and the kids had a great time.

7-22-2002 27- Victor and Ion teaching debate. I sat in on this one rainy afternoon as a judge and the kids ate me alive.

7-22-2002 28- The camp mascot…Snuggles. Yeah…Snuggles.

7-22-2002 29- English Camp 2002!

7-22-2002 30- English Camp 2002…plus counselors!

7-23-2002 1- Girls making tie-dyes for art class care of Jen Moncel.

7-23-2002 2- Finished work on tie-dye.

7-23-2002 3- More tie-dye.

7-23-2002 4- Tie-dye close-up.

7-23-2002 5- Jen and Nicu make an adorable couple. He! He!

7-23-2002 6- “Halloween Night” at English Camp 2002 takes a turn for the worst when all the male participants are made to cross dress.

7-23-2002 7- Okay maybe not EVERY guy cross-dressed. Mihial, Nathan, and the other fellas might have taken a different path, but I felt it necessary to dawn make-up and go as #35, your femininely heterosexual, football star. Whatever! You gotta admit it’s scary…right?

7-23-2002 8- You got me.

7-23-2002 9- Melissa’s Soroca crew looking ravishingly spooky.

7-23-2002 10- More Halloween.

7-23-2002 11- Melissa and Elena Meaun looking respectfully frightened on Halloween. Elena (a.k.a. Helen) is Kristen Young’s host-sister from Cuhurestii De Sus. She’s really cool.

7-23-2002 12- Melissa giving a piggyback ride. Diana (on Kristen’s back) was a camp favorite for a great attitude and deadly hand/eye coordination in Frisbee golf.

7-23-2002 13- Minuteman number one: Max.

7-24-2002 1- On the last day the participants put on a talent show. This is a dance number.

7-24-2002 2- Not quite as entertaining as the silhouette’s from art class behind them, the Soroca girls finally speak!

7-24-2002 3- In the waning hours of English Camp 2002; Alan, Melissa, and Carrie Ellis at the camp discotecha.

7-24-2002 4- We were all pretty beat at this point, right?

7-24-2002 5- Melissa gets one last photo from camp.

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Moldova; PCVs in the Field - Moldova; Photography - Moldova



By bethany on Wednesday, April 16, 2003 - 7:39 pm: Edit Post

hi my name is Bethany and I need to know what chads everyday clothing is. I've looked every where online. I have a country report on chad and I have to dress up like i'm from chad on may 30th for international day and I have no clue what to dress up like. It would be awesome if I could get some pictures. My email address is bethk@neo.rr.com. thankx

By edward (host-212-0-206-142.mtc-or.md - on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 11:09 am: Edit Post

Hello Marcus!
See please www.pro-democracia.tk
Weth respect, Edward

By Marian Costin (host-212-0-193-106.mtc.md - on Tuesday, December 28, 2004 - 6:18 am: Edit Post

Hi! My name is Marian Costin. I was a student in Moldova the Vorniceni village in 2002-2004. I had a Teacher from Peace Corp! His name is (I don't remember clear) Mr Aley Laphgo [Alei Lafgo], sorry if I did a mistake. I'd like to say helo to Him. Can You help with this?
Write to cmix@home.ro.
Thank You in advance!

By Mirabela (host-212-0-216-105.mtc-rs.md - on Monday, July 11, 2005 - 6:05 pm: Edit Post

Heloo!My name is Mirabela.I have a teacher from Peace Corp too and i want to say that i'm happy to now her!Peace Corp is the best!

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