Six months after the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine, 5.8 million Ukrainians were displaced. Women and children, in particular, fled the country. Every day Ukrainian refugees arrive in neighboring countries such as Poland, Moldova and Romania.
The girls and young women who now live in Romania share memories of Ukraine.
Four months ago, Arina, 13, fled violence in Ukraine with her mother, Irina, 46. And soon the escape was chosen: one bomb after another fell, and there was not even time to pack clean clothes. Arina’s father and brother remained in Ukraine. Now Arina and her mother live in Bucharest, the capital of Romania, where they share a house with another Ukrainian family.
Before the conflict, Irina worked as an accountant and Arina went to school. Her favorite subjects are world and Ukrainian literature and art. She is fond of painting and displays a painting of her home in Ukraine. When she and her mother arrived in Bucharest, she drew sketches of the volunteers and thanked them for their help.
Arina explains that she is safe now, but misses Ukraine dearly: “I have strong feelings and emotions for Ukraine and my life before we went to Romania. It does not matter that it is better here now. I miss my home and everything I have there.”
It doesn’t matter that it’s better here now. I miss my home and everything I have there
Maria (35 years old) worked in Kyiv for an IT company. She actually wanted to stay in Ukraine so she could help the citizens through her church and continue taking care of her cat. I left Kyiv and went to a city in central Ukraine. But when that city was also bombed, she fled to Romania. She had to leave her cat and her family behind.
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She remembers well the first day of the conflict: “It was five in the morning when a friend woke me up and said, ‘The conflict has begun. We have to go to a bomb shelter. I couldn’t believe what was happening. It’s a feeling you can’t prepare for.'”
In addition to her cat, Maria, who is now a volunteer with Plan International, misses her family, colleagues, and life in Kyiv. We may not have realized it, but our lives were pretty good before the conflict. I think every Ukrainian would agree to that.
Kyiv is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. I like the city so much it’s big, but you can live comfortably there. There is a wonderful history and beautiful architecture. It is also very modern at the same time. It’s a city of startups and all kinds of different companies, it’s full of life and full of young people.”
A lot has changed because of the conflict, because everyone has fled. Everyone had a plan and knew where to go. I am here alone now with no friends or colleagues. we will keep in-touch. Thank God my parents are still online and we can still talk.”
It was five in the morning when a friend woke me up and said, “We should go to the bomb shelter.” This is a feeling you can’t prepare for
Alina and Yana
Before the conflict, sisters Alina (21) and Yana (19) studied at the university in Bucha, a city outside Kyiv and one of the first places captured by the Russian army. As the conflict escalated, Alina’s mother called her to ask them to come home quickly. But it was already too late, so the sisters traveled to Romania in search of safety.
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“It went so fast. I don’t know what would have happened if we had waited another day,” Alina explains.
The two sisters have been living in Bucharest for four months. They both work with Adra, partner of Plan International, to create fun and safe places for children who have also fled conflict. Their sixteen-year-old sister still lives in Ukraine with the rest of the family. Pictures like this bring them together again.
I don’t know what would have happened if we waited another day
This is what Plan International does
Over the past six months, Plan International, along with partner organizations in Poland, Romania and Moldova, has helped receive refugee children from Ukraine and their families. They receive support in building their lives in a new country. Child protection, mental and psychological support, education, cash assistance and vouchers are our priority. At the same time, we are also preparing for the harsh winter. To date, at least 154,929 people have been reached with emergency critical care.