A GROUP from New Hope Trust travelled to Moldova recently where they attended the official opening of Stella's 2 in the presence of the US Ambassador and his wife.
Stella's 2 follows on from the successful Stella's House, which provides a safe haven for young girls who otherwise would be forced onto the streets and forced into the sex industry.
US Ambassador Asif Chaudhry and his wife Charla carried out the cutting of the ribbon for Stella's 2, which is currently home to eight teenage girls, aged 16 and over.
Mark Morgan, assistant director of New Hope Trust, was one of the group who went over to see the facility and told the Buchanie: "It was a fantastic experience seeing the work come to fruition, and now we are focused on getting Stella's 3 up and running as soon as possible.
"There are currently eight young girls in Stella's 2, with that number expected to increase to 12 by the end of May and the capacity reached by June 1."
In attendance at the opening were 12 people from the North-east including three from New Hope Trust and a few from the US including Philip Cameron who is also a director of the trust. The Ambassador got a guided tour off the house and also heard the story of one young girl, Dasa Rosca, which moved both himself and his wife to tears.
Dasa's story was one of two highlighted in the Buchanie earlier this year and emphasised the importance of Stella's for young teenage Moldovan girls. The Ambassador and his wife then enjoyed a puppet show which was performed by girls from Stella's 1 and 2.
"The Ambassador knew of the work of the trust but didn't realise just how beneficial it was to have the houses for the girls until he met with them and heard their stories," said Mr Morgan.
"We are now looking towards the third house and trying to get it up and running as soon as possible, but as usual it's all about funding and we now have to try and raise as much money as possible to achieve this goal."
During their visit to Moldova the group visited an orphanage in the north of the country which they had been told about by one of their contacts.
On arriving at the orphanage in Balti they discovered filthy toilets and shower facilities, rusting beds, rotting woodwork, broken windows and worn floors.
"It was a shock to the system and I don't think anyone was prepared for what we found there," explained Mark.
"The orphanage caters for 235 youngsters and they are living in atrocious conditions. The toilet was filthy and the children are forced to share sponges and soap when showering, and these looked terrible.
"We brought in packages for the children, but did not know what we were going to find once we were in there, so now the focus for us is getting their sanitary needs up to scratch by replacing the toilets and showers for them," he said.
"Two of the other orphanages that we have already helped are also struggling as the government has cut funding by 200,000 per year for one and 300,000 per year for the other.
"They are both now struggling to cope with the crippling cash cuts and so we are now going to have to try and to aid them as much as we can."
Mr Morgan says that items such as toothbrushes, sanitary towels, soap, shampoo and clothing are now urgently required to help the orphans.
"These children just need a little attention and it has been proven that by giving them this they can go on to greater things," said Mr Morgan.
"A little love goes a long way in Moldova and we need to continue to help and encourage as many of these young people as we can," he added.