Habitat for Humanity Romania have been supporting refugees arriving into the country from Ukraine since the first few days of war breaking out. In the initial days of the response, Habitat staff were situated at the border prior to the government leading the response there. Whilst at the border, Habitat for Humanity spoke with some of the refugees as they supplied them with emergency packs containing chargers to keep refugees connected whilst on the move. Others, Habitat for Humanity Romania supplied with hotel vouchers to provide shelter for their first few nights in the country.
Svetlana fled Ukraine when the war with Russia started. She fled in her wheelchair with her brother, who is also her personal care assistant, her daughter-in-law, Tania, and her two grandchildren (Cristina, 9, and Artiom, 4). In order to escape, they traveled through the Ukrainian cities of Nikolaiev and Odessa before reaching Romania.
Svetlana said their village, Krup’yans’ke (Pasat), has been so badly affected by the Russian attacks that it is almost gone. To demonstrate the state of her hometown, Svetlana showed us videos and photos received from those who remained in the village. In the images, house after house was destroyed by the bombing.
Following this, Svetlana told us that her son remained in Ukraine. Though this deeply saddens her, she is happy that she is able to stay in touch with him via phone. Her parents also remained in Ukraine, wanting to stay in their village even though fighting had drawn very close.
After receiving an emergency pack from the Romania team she told us that her family want to go to Germany, where her daughter lives. Asked about her next steps, Svetlana replied with a smile and said, “To live.”
“Ukraine and supporting countries are now like a big family.”
Milena aged 13, has a talent for drawing. She drew the image on the left in her notepad. Since the conflict began in her country, she finds the only way she can express her painful feelings is to draw.
The family left the Ukrainian city of Vasylkiv on March 2. After a few days spent on the road, they arrived in Romania, where they are planning to stay until the end of the war. They are now living in Bucharest in an apartment rented by Habitat for Humanity Romania, for an indefinite period.
The family has had to lean on each other, as this is the first time they have been separated from their father for so long.
“I will go to Cyprus.”
Asia is a 26-year-old resident of Kyiv in Ukraine. At the time of leaving her home country, Asia was 7 months pregnant. She left the capital of Ukraine on the second day of the war to keep herself and her unborn child safe. Her husband told her that she would be safe only if she left the country and urged her to leave.
Arriving in Odessa, Ukraine, Asia stayed there for a couple of days, but she was still determined to get to Romania. Not long after arriving in Odessa, Asia was able to make her way to the Romanian border.
When speaking with Asia, she told us that her husband, mother and brother stayed at home. Her mother did not want to leave her hometown, saying she would stay there no matter what. Alone with her unborn baby, Asia has decided that she will go to Cyprus. She has a good friend that lives there who has welcomed her to stay in her home.
Until she is able to get to Cyprus, Asia will be hosted in Bucharest, Romania by another acquaintance.
“Romania has shown solidarity with Ukrainians.”
Eugenia left Odessa, Ukraine, with her 7-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter. Although it was very difficult to leave her home, she says she did it to save her children. We met Eugenia at the Ukraine-Romania border where she told us that she was hopeful that the war would end soon.
She expressed how much she wants to return home to her parents and her husband. Until she can be reunited with them, she wants to stay in Romania, because she is very grateful for the way people here have shown their solidarity with Ukrainians.
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