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PREPARE Network Is Promoting New Activists For Rural Development- Meet Zachary Dolomanzhy from Gagauzia (Moldova)

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Zahari Dolomanji (Zachary Dolomanzhy) is a rural development activist from Moldova, who started with active engagement at the beginning of his university studies.

He was a volunteer in different programmes including small projects, focused mostly on the village where he was born and where he lived for a while. The village is called Tvarditsa and is located in the south of Moldova, in Taraclia district, a Bulgarian-speaking district. As a representative of the Bulgarian minority (known as Besarabian Bulgarians), he was working on improving the living conditions in the village, mostly focusing on ecology problems and other activities dedicated to the youth, including some open-air events in the village.

He is studying for Civil Law, as a student of the 4th year of the Law Faculty in the Comrat Public University, but his passion is linked with the challenges of rural areas.

Zahari got an opportunity to work in the LEADER programme as LAG manager, and due to this, he started to spend more time in the villages with members of LAG, helping them improve the living conditions in rural areas. He provided various ideas on infrastructure and tourism development, by using his language skills for attracting new contacts, new opportunities and donations to their region. Therefore he considered himself as a rural development activist.

Since his university studies are continuing, he cannot be LAG manager anymore. However, he is still a member of the LAG, in the position of consultant. His involvement with the LAG is based on his volunteering experience in various forums and on his English language skills, as well as on his experience in the identification of problems in rural areas.

Currently, he is working as PR manager in the Association of Gagauzia “NEXT” and project manager in the Public Association “Youth of Gagauzia”.

Zahari takes part in a youth project called “Activisation of Youth and Responsible Citizenship”, funded by SlovakAid and implemented in partnership with the Slovakian Foreign Policy Association. The project is focused in three main priorities: 1) Education of young leaders from the whole Gagauzia (rural and urban area) 2) Youth Policy Platform – platform for youth policy implementation stakeholders, who are interested in real improvement of the life of youth; it involves a working group of representatives of local authorities, youth NGOs, activists and young community leaders; 3) National Forum of young leaders – platform of confidence building between different regions of the country, which aims to develop solutions to different youth challenges.

For all these challenges, Zahari has support of the family; even his father joined him in some of the activities in village. They understand that youth have to be able to develop their skills and to contribute for overall development of Gagauzia and of Moldova.

Zahari, sees his future life connected to rural development. At least for the next 2-3 years he is planning to work on the involvement of youth in LAG decision-making processes and supporting youth initiatives in rural areas. He has prepared an application for a project that will support youth initiatives in rural areas and in the development of LAGs in Gagauzia, especially on the topic of youth involvement in decision-making processes. He also aims to contribute to increasing the number of small and medium enterprises in rural areas, since business development is the only way to create sustainability and to prevent migration of the population