Saturday, January 25, 2014

Moldova, Wine, Politics, and Poverty

 Did you know that the US exported over $50 billion in vehicles to Canada in 2012?  It is our largest export to our neighbors up north.  Can you imagine what would happen if Canada decided to BAN all US vehicle imports?  There would be dramatic repercussions.  Thousands would lose their jobs and the industry (already struggling) would be hard pressed to quickly find alternative markets to replace this lost income.  In short, this would be a heavy blow to Detroit.

Thankfully, this isn't likely to happen.  But something similar has happened in Eastern Europe.  Moldova has been making wine for 4,000 years.  It was their major export during Soviet times and Russia continued to be their biggest customer (80-90% of exports) until 2006, when Russia banned imports of Moldovan wine.  It has been described as economic blackmail- attempting to keep Moldova in its sphere of influence and prevent her from joining the European Union.

Moldova is already Europe's poorest country.  It's economy is heavily dependent on agriculture- which employs 1/3 of Moldovans.  This wine import ban only aggravates the situation.

The reason I mention this detail is that many think that economic problems in Eastern Europe are all remnants of communism.  Many are.  But many problems are new issues that bring more misery and job loss and are completely out of the control of the average worker.  Politicians play games and people suffer.

Many people are thrown out of house and home.  Some may have a place to live but no money for food.  Many don't have adequate heat or clothing.  That's where Mission Without Borders Street Mercy program steps in.  Working with local churches, Street Mercy is expanding in Moldova and Eastern Europe providing warm meals to those on the streets.  Later this week,  I'll be sharing more about this vital program and the people who benefit from it.  
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