Today I’m honored to talk to Marie McDowell, International Co-President & Grant Committee Chair of the IWCM. Frankly speaking, Marie is considered the international Mother of the club. She is always ready to help and support without being too pretentious. She is equally open both to dignitaries and to the poor.
Thanks to her work and efforts in the club, many children from orphanages in Moldova received financial assistance, sick children - medicines and the necessary equipment, schools - the necessary supplies. Furthermore, she made many things in the club easier, more accessible and more transparent for everyone.
Marie is a "perpetual motion machine"of the IWCM. A bunch of responsibilities lied on the shoulders of this fragile and kind woman. Parting with such people is especially difficult.
Marie, what did bring you to the Club? How did it all start?
It started for me about 17 years ago when my family lived and worked in Chisinau for the first time. As a young mom with a newborn child and a preschooler, I became the IWCM member and later served at the board as the Hospitality Chair. When we returned to Moldova in 2018, my first thoughts about getting actively involved in the local community went to the IWCM, of course. I was pleasantly surprised how much this club evolved. I am glad that I was a part of this growing time during the last three years.
What events do you remember most of all during your years at the Club?
The International Charity Bazaars: I participated in four of them! I also enjoyed the Night of Arts where I purchased in the past all of my Moldovan artworks that decorate our home around the world. I hope that an event like the Night of Arts will return on the club’s schedule – the talents of local artists are a good match with the creativity and charitable activities of the club.
What assistance has the club provided to its beneficiaries during the years of your management of the club?
Serving as the Grants Committee Chair was a great experience for me. I was a bit scared of this job given the high level of responsibility it requires. However, I am very happy that I accepted this challenge, and I would recommend work on the Grants Committee to all ladies in the club who want to exercise or develop their leadership skills.
Grants Committee is also a good place to learn about the “out of the comfy bubble” life in Moldova – about the true struggles and hardships of the local people. During the 2019/2020 grants cycle the club supported, for example, homes for children in Cupcui (playground) and Chisinau (kitchen and beds in Regina Pacis); structural upgrade works at the School for Children with Vision Impairments in Chisinau; doors and windows for a community center in Ialoveni; sound system for the School #6; sensors for diabetic children; and many others.
What was the most difficult thing to realize out of the plan?
For me it was hard to choose from over 112 applications about 10 who will receive the proceeds from the 2019 International Chaity Bazaar. I knew that all of them need some help, support, or encouragement. To make the donations sufficient and well targeted, the committee had to make many tough compromises.
Was it hard to combine family, other duties and activities in the Club?
It is important for every person to understand where our limits of time and energy are. I have a bad habit of “trying to save the world” and then I realize that there is too much on my plate. But I was lucky to work with many devoted and talented ladies at the club that made it easier for me to overcome the challenges.
How do you see the future of the IWCM?
The IWCM is made by its members and by a clear mission statement. I think that the IWCM has a great potential to continue with its growth and development as a social space for expat and Moldovan ladies combined with charity and support to women and children. The IWCM is actually a registered NGO. The NGO status is a great tool, but also a great responsibility. I think that there are many creative, fun, and hardworking ladies in the club who want to run various interest groups, socialize, or participate on fundraising and charitable events. I think that these two elements of the club – the social and NGO - should be clearly stated in a mission statement.
It should send out a message that every expat as well as Moldovan lady can find her place in the club to enjoy the international women’s comradery while satisfying needs for self-realization, public service or simply having fun. The club should every year reflect on their members’ preferences and prepare a balanced calendar that responses to its members’ expectations. The club will be as good as is the wiliness of its members to cooperate. I know the ladies will do great. I wish I can be in Moldova at least a couple of years longer to support this growing time of the club.
What would you recommend for other expat women coming to Moldova?
Always check on the IWCM and do not judge based on one meeting. Many good things happen here, so do not miss the fun!
What would you add to Moldova to make this country a better place?
A justice loving and law-abiding leadership.
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