From Moldova to Ukraine: Rebuilding across the border

7 November, 2022

Since February 24th, eyes around the world have been turned to Ukraine. For many of us, the conflict has inspired conversations with friends and colleagues. Much of that information comes from news outlets that report on numbers of displaced people, changes in gas prices, or recent injuries. What you don’t read so often is the stories of the individuals, of the families, that dropped everything and were forced to rebuild in a new country for an undetermined length of time. 

Svetlana is a mother of two from a village outside Odesa. After two weeks of war, she left with her daughters for Moldova – while her husband had to stay by military order. They spent days waiting in line at the border, where IsraAID’s team was providing immediate support for mothers and children.

“I chose Moldova because it is so close to home, only a few hours’ drive. When the announcement that the war is over is made, I can pick up my girls and be home by evening.”

Arina is Svetlana’s eldest daughter. In February, she was about to graduate from her studies in prop and set design in Odesa – and already thinking about her next steps. The conflict put a pause on all of that. When she came to Moldova with her mother and sister, she felt like “all my dreams had vanished.” 

Svetlana and her daughters spent weeks in a temporary shelter at a Chisinau hospital, where IsraAID’s social workers and child development specialists provided daily support. When the hospital shelter closed, they moved into private accommodation. With a family to feed and money running low, Svetlana and her eldest daughter were both able to find work at the Sunflower Center, an IsraAID-supported project providing daily activities for Ukrainian children in Chisinau. Svetlana prepares healthy lunches for the children and staff every day, providing for herself – and her children – while she waits for the day she can go home.

“I am very grateful to IsraAID – you were a source of happiness for us. We lived in a tuberculosis hospital and your visits made our day each time. I tear up just thinking back. IsraAID’s social worker brought us things like food, clothing, books, toys – she took care of us, and somehow we ended up here,” Arina said.

For the nearly 100,000 Ukrainian refugees in Moldova, crossing the border is far from the end of their journey. For most, it’s just the start. The challenges can seem daunting: how do you build a new life in a new place for yourself and your family, while all you want is to go home? IsraAID’s team works to empower refugees escaping war to find the strength and opportunities they need to find hope in a near-impossible situation. 

To support displaced people like Svetlana and her two daughters, donate to IsraAID’s Emergency Fund.

 

Photographs by Maxim Chumash

 

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