We are exploring a partnership with an international agency that has a regional office in Chisinau, Moldova. Because they are trying to work with the nation’s communist government, I will refrain from sharing their organization’s name here. Suffice-it-to-say, they didn’t have good things to share about the state of the orphans and orphanages in the country.

Moldova has been corrupted by corruption. It is a land that has so much potential yet, due to greedy, immoral leadership, over 80% of the population want to leave the country, according to a recent official poll. As the educated of society flock to countries like Germany, Italy, France and Spain in search of a better life, the impoverished masses remain to be taken advantage of yet further. Moreover, many children are left behind or are missing fathers for years while these men try to establish legal residence in other countries.

As with most injustices, the children do indeed suffer the most. The recent political posturing with Russia resulted in that nation, Moldova’s largest trading partner, placing an embargo on any goods from Moldova. As a result, the country is plunging further into hopelessness and poverty. When Russia cut off piped-in natural gas supplies to Moldova for a one-week period this past winter, people died. They literally died of hypothermia in their apartments.

The street children of Chisinau and other Moldovan cities often try to find warmth in the exposed crawl spaces of apartment basements and in the utilities areas running under the icy streets above. These street kids huddle against the hot water pipes as winter temperatures plummet below -20 F.

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When Russia temporarily stopped the flow of life-giving fuel for warmth, many of these poor children paid the ultimate price for petty men and their petty political games. Their frozen bodies were found in open manholes and similar areas all over the country.

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(Images: Underground places of refuge for street children in Chisinau, Moldova)

I have to point out that these young victims were simply normal kids that were presented with a tough set of circumstances. They weren’t hardened criminals bent on afflicting society. They were children, just like our own, who just happened to lose their parents to poverty, alcohol, or abuse. They didn’t choose to scavenge garbage bins and hug rusty pipes at night. They didn’t choose to live in such misery. And yet they paid the price as a consequence of others’ decisions. They paid the piper.

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(Image: Street child begging for food in one of Chisinau’s parks)