At Open Gate International, we champion victorious futures for those in vulnerable life situations in the United States and around the world. In 2016, our journey took us to Moldova. In this small, poverty-stricken eastern European country, our founder, Deidre Pujols, witnessed the hardships men, women and families face as victims of human trafficking and other exploitative industries.
We had to do something.
During our travels and after speaking with local organizations working to support survivors, we learned that two key elements of support were missing: job training and workforce development. So, we set to work, forming alliances with local nonprofits and the Moldovan government. Together, we established OGI’s 12-Week Culinary Arts Program, as well as culinary classes in a women’s prison.
Our team of culinary experts, under the direction of the ever-inspiring Chef Julia, strives to change lives each day. Students not only learn to master traditional Moldovan dishes, they are also trained to prepare and serve international cuisine.
OGI provides hope and the tools to fulfill it.
Chef Julia and her team encourage students to recognize that anything is possible, no matter the hardships they’ve endured, their current situation or the challenges they will face in life. That’s the OGI way. We equip students with the skills and confidence to pursue healthy, full lives and create promising futures for themselves and their families.
Since its inception in 2018, our Moldova program has graduated 28 students— 15 of whom are now working in the culinary industry because of the training and guidance they received from our team and amazing partners in Moldova.
We are grateful for the concern and actionable support from OGI donors, partners and culinary leaders who affect real change for adults in the U.S. and overseas. For more on our our work in Moldova, stay tuned to for an update from Chef Julia. In the meantime, check out our website or find us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook