Champa’s Younger ‘Mom’


Try to solve this biological riddle: When is a mother half the age of her daughter?

The top photo offers a clue.

Answer: When an older Peace Corps trainee lives with a young “host mother”and her two sons.

That’s what Champa’s been doing in the Moldovan town of Costeşti. Here she is with her host mom, Maria, in the white shirt, along with Maria’s two sons and mother.

Maria’s husband is in Tel Aviv, working construction to make money to send home, like so many Moldovans. Maria’s friend, who teaches English in the local school, stopped by last night and told us her husband is working outside the country as well, in Germany, as are all four of his brothers.


Maria lives in this lovely home along the road where you see Champa standing. It’s a short walk from the center of the village, which is not far from Chisinau, Moldova’s capital. If we were back in the Washington, D.C., area, it would be considered an outer suburb like, say, Leesburg or Germantown, although with more goats and fewer McDonald’s.

img_7929Like me, Champa has a nice living situation. Her house has a modern kitchen and bathroom, wifi and a dining room, as well as her own bedroom. Maria is very friendly and even speaks some English. Champa does have a long uphill walk to the school where she has her language classes and technical training, but she says it reminds her of walking in Nepal.

I saw all of this for myself this weekend when I left my own host family and village to spend a day with Champa. There are three married couples in our training group and we are the only ones allowed to leave our host villages unaccompanied during the first several weeks. Even so, we’re required to check in with Peace Corps at each step of our travels so they know we’re OK.

I had to travel all the way into Chisinau and then back out again to reach her, since there are no direct buses between our two sites. To use a North Carolina analogy this time, it was like traveling from Durham to Chapel Hill via Raleigh each time.


It was worth it — mainly to see Champa, of course, but also to meet Maria and her family. Now I have two adopted families here in Moldova! For dinner, Maria made plăcintăs — traditional pastries stuffed with cheese or other goodies. We enjoyed them with some wine her father produced, which is common here. The meal was delicious and we cleaned our plates.

We always want to keep mom happy, no matter how old she is.




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