FAREHAM, United Kingdom — Charitable work creates a domino effect — oftentimes while receiving help, people are inspired to continue the cause and help others. The Borgen Project spoke with Emma Morton, one of the founders of the Moldova Project and a prolific figure in the charity sector, to discuss her work and the domino effect of charitable work.
The Republic of Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe, with a history of government corruption. It has a population of over 3 million and is located near Ukraine and Romania. On average, Moldovan families have a monthly budget of $188, 1 in 8 children live in poverty and 44% of the population do not have access to improved water.
The Moldova Project
The Moldova Project was founded in 2008 by Victoria Morozov, Emma Morton and Lucy Watson. The organization works to help vulnerable families in Moldova — often those with single parents and three or more children — and takes a multilateral approach. The goal is to help parents reach self-sufficiency and keep children out of orphanages.
Morton told The Borgen Project that the organization started out quite simple. In her first year of college, Morton and her sister volunteered at an orphanage. “You’d go into rooms and there’s just cots,” Morton said. “Giant cots full of babies — like 20 in a room and 2 [caregivers]. I think it just has always been really sad.” During her time volunteering, Morton met Morozov and started the project from there.
Morton explains how the organization began fundraising: “We started with a really simple sponsorship program. So, we found 10 people who live in the U.K. to begin with, mostly my family and friends, who could afford to give a monthly amount. We sent pretty directly to Victoria in Moldova and she would buy whatever the family needed that month. Then, it kind of started off really simply like that.”
Today, the Moldova Project is now officially governed in Moldova instead of the U.K. and runs several programs. It has a health care program, where it delivers close to 200 medical interventions a year; a mental health program to provide counseling to the families; both a formal and informal education program, where the former has the project providing school supplies so that children can attend school and the latter are life skills workshops.
On top of this, the Moldova Project is involved in building projects. Morton mentioned one of the issues with keeping children at home instead of at orphanages was shelters that let the weather in, so the building projects aimed to rectify this. Morton went on to explain that, despite the community being off put by the aid trucks at first, the neighbors came to understand each other and got involved with the building.
After her time with the Moldova Project, Morton continued to work in the charity sector. She told The Borgen Project that she got very interested in fundraising, saying, “I feel like my fundraising is the thing that makes it all happen because if you don’t have the money, none of the work can happen, so I actually just got really passionate about fundraising.”
She continued to work with charities with a focus on helping children. With approximately 5.4 million children in orphanages, at least 300 studies showing the harm of institutionalization and 80% of children in orphanages having a living parent, there is a lot of work needed to tackle the root causes: poverty, disability and social stigma.
Morton also worked at Lumos, which aims to protect children and families from separating by pressing governments to reform their care systems. During her time with Lumos, the organization focused on moving children out of orphanages. From there, she worked with Safe Passage, which aims to help refugees and uses their legal teams to reunite children and families. The charity has helped over 1800 children reach safety.
Morton says her work at ActionAid had a significant impact on her, especially regarding power dynamics and helping other communities. She says, “The thing I love about ActionAid is they’re really—I learnt a lot about power dynamics and the fact that decision making should really be in the hands of the communities who benefit… Why should I design a project and tell somebody to deliver it when, actually, they know what their community needs better?”
The Moldovans aided by the Moldova Project took time to adjust but strengthened their community, and eventually, the neighbors helped each other. At ActionAid, the charity provides while the community takes the reins and is empowered to help each other strive toward equality and work their way out of poverty.
Morton now works for Hope and Homes for Children. The charity works in 30 countries and is currently helping to address the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. It has helped over 13,000 children in Ukraine and 9000 across Ukraine.
The Big Picture
Morton demonstrates how a small step, such as volunteering in an orphanage, can lead to a developing passion and a career helping others. This work also inspires others to get involved in charitable efforts. Morton worked with a woman called Beth Hounslow who went on to start a school club called “Community Action,” which had children getting involved with charity work. Through the work of charitable organizations, impoverished people in Moldova can look to a brighter future.
– Lachlan Griffiths