In 2020, a virtual platform was created and launched to enhance collaboration between the diaspora and public, private; as well as civil society organisations in Moldova, in addition to supporting greater connections within the diaspora itself.
Diaspora Connect is that independent web platform initiated and spearheaded by Victoria Capatici, a Moldovan diasporan in the UK.
Victoria is a development professional with progressive experience coordinating complex projects for both civil society as well as donor organisations.
She was motivated to remain in touch with Moldova and fellow Moldovans abroad even with the physical distance from home, and despite the distancing imposed by the then-escalating COVID 19 pandemic. Together with Fortius, an NGO based in Moldova she developed the platform.
“I was involved in many activities at home in Moldova and wasn’t ready to give up that activism after leaving the country. The more I was in touch with fellow Moldovans abroad I could see that they too had experiences to share, ideas and initiatives to voice, a helping hand to give, and a great source of knowledge”, says Victoria on her motivation for establishing Diaspora Connect.
“Meanwhile, at home the news about migration trends and weakening human resources remained worrying. How could one access this invaluable resource in the diaspora in one place, especially with lockdowns limiting even more the occasions to meet other fellow Moldovans? This was when the idea of gathering under the same virtual roof all those interested and willing to help, shaped up in my head. As a lucky coincidence, a team in Moldova approached me for an interview about my experience of the pandemic in the UK. That interview led to other discussions, and later the same year we found ourselves working together on developing Diaspora Connect”, she adds.
Anyone from the diaspora or who wants to get in touch with the diaspora, can create an account where they share their professional details, choose the ways they want to engage, and get contacted in their professional capacity on Diaspora Connect. The platform is open, and anyone willing to find and get in touch with Moldovan professionals abroad can do so with a couple of clicks by applying the filters on the platform. There are 10 search filters on the platform meaning, it is easy to find a person by their country of residence, name, sector of expertise, or even by their hometown in Moldova, among others.
The platform is also open to governmental agencies in Moldova who want to advertise in-country professional opportunities relevant to the diaspora or want to engage the members of the platform in discussions or consultations. A number of recently appointed heads of governmental agencies and state secretaries in Moldova are former members of the diaspora, several of them being registered on Diaspora Connect as well.
This is what Victoria has to say about the Diaspora Connect experience:
“It was an exciting process creating the platform, especially for it being entirely online. The distance created by migration, together with the social distancing imposed by the pandemic, the wave of enthusiasm in the Moldovan diaspora and our very personal stories of migration, challenged us to reimagine togetherness.”
Moldovan media and journalists are among the many beneficiaries of the platform. They can use Diaspora Connect when looking for informed opinions and first-hand information from certain countries that hosts the Moldovan diaspora so that they can share or comment on them. The latter was piloted last year when a group of Diaspora Connect members embraced the role of reporters for one day during the parliamentary elections, sharing real-time up-to-date practical information about the situation at the polling stations in their localities, which in many countries had a precedent of being overcrowded and, in some cases, poorly organised.
PHOTO: A preview of Diaspora Connect’s website.
Over the course of the last year, a series of additional technical functionalities have been developed aimed at giving platform users an even better experience. The team has designed technical functionalities for members to create projects, virtual community spaces, post jobs, and so on. All of these allow platform users to shape the way Diaspora Connect serves their project ideas and professional interests.
For Victoria and her partners, the future is exciting as they have a lot of initiatives in the pipeline. She says:
“Our intention was to create Diaspora Connect as a practical user-friendly platform, and we’d love to think we succeeded. We will continue working towards growing the number of those joining us, not only as members but as active contributors. The platform is so versatile in its possibilities, and we would love everyone who joins to explore and use them. It is also a very democratic space, and we encourage everyone to have a say on how they would want the platform to evolve.”
Currently, there are almost 700 profiles on Diaspora Connect, from over 40 countries, and the platform continues to grow. All these members are bringing expertise in a wide range of fields. The team is determined to further develop Diaspora Connect as a way to encourage partnering with the diaspora, and engaging Moldovans abroad beyond the traditional ways but rather as a source of knowledge, skills and inspiration.
“The mission of Diaspora Connect is to facilitate knowledge circulation and encourage creativity in relation to diaspora engagement, and we will continue providing every space to allow for these to happen. We want to reach Moldovans in more countries; more professionals of different ages and interests”, Victoria expresses her expectations further.
“We will come up with more ideas and more products on Diaspora Connect, and we are equally excited to team up with any other project and initiative that believes in the potential of diaspora beyond its classic roles”, she adds.
To know more or become part of Diaspora Connect, kindly visit their WEBSITE.
By: Theresa R. Fianko
Additional Information: Victoria Capatici
Image Attribution: Victoria Capatici / Diaspora Connect
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