Maria Is 86 years old. She has three children, six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. She lives in the town of Balti with one of her daughters. She used to work in a meat factory. Five years ago, she had injuries to both of her hips. She was left immobilized. Her days and nights are now spent in bed or bound to a wheelchair. Unfortunately for Maria, she lives in one of the world’s most forgotten countries: Moldova.
Moldova’s economy is still in transition from 40-years of Communist rule. And those living in rural areas are disproportionately affected. Widespread unemployment, high poverty rates, outdated infrastructure, and limited access to quality health-care services have left many Moldovans eager for change. Among the groups most affected by Moldova’s underfunded health-care system are the elderly and chronically-ill. Nearly 25% of working-aged Moldovans emigrate to Western Europe to earn money, oftentimes leaving their families behind.
This is where our partner, CASMED, comes in: they provide much needed care for elderly citizens like Maria. Their program is based on a home-care model with nurses travelling across the northern region of Moldova, visiting and caring for those who are sick. CASMED nurses made an unbelievable 46, 250 home visits last year. To administer care, their nurses must traverse (literally) over hill and valley, walking along unpaved roads, chewed up by foot traffic, erosion, and automobiles. The burden of carrying their heavy medical equipment up these steep grades is exhausting, slowing the nurses down and limiting the amount of visits they are able to make in one day.
An affordable and simple solution to the problem? Bikes! Last year, our colleagues at CASMED requested that we raise funds to purchase a CASMED nurse bike fleet. Bikes are durable, excellent for traveling on unpaved roads, and are solid enough to carry up to 100 pounds of equipment!
Our goal was $4,000. Thanks to donors Mike Weddle and Sandi Rowland, Paula and Bob Denson, and Sally Bourque-Laycsak, we were able to reach our goal in three months! And, as I write this, the nurses are in the process of purchasing their new fleet. As spring descends upon the rolling hills of Balti, Maria can rest assured that her CASMED nurse will visit early and often to massage her legs, lead her through rehabilitation exercises, and monitor her overall health.
It’s an example of tangible improvement through a simple solution. Although not earth-shattering, the bikes will still improve people’s lives. And that is completely worth the investment!