This time last year, Children on the Edge were preparing for the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
We had contacts in both Romania and Moldova from our previous work in those countries, so as soon as Russia invaded, we were able to respond immediately.
Within five days we had funds directed right to the borders as refugees arrived, and we were there ourselves within ten days.
I remember on that first visit to the border, the support for refugees within Romania was fantastic but we could see gaps in provision for the most marginalised. We set up an emergency fund that helped plug these until a more formal programme was established. This didn't take long and we were soon providing emergency food and supplies to queues of refugees in Romania, as well as transit accommodation for refugees in Moldova.
Not long after that, children from a bombed orphanage in Ukraine arrived in Iasi. Due to our history working within Romanian orphanages in the 90s and 00s, we were contacted straight away and again were able to quickly respond.
Thanks to the generosity of our community, we’ve been able to continue to support the most marginalised Ukrainian refugees over this time. Find out how here.
A year on, things have changed for refugees.
They weren’t expecting to stay so long and are desperate to get back home to try and rebuild their lives. Many were hoping for a short end to the war and, as the year has gone on, their attitude and approach has sadly had to change. So too has our support.
I spoke with Iryna, who fled from Ukraine to Romania with her daughter and parents, she remembers how:
“There were actually less people needing food at the start. At this time there were lots of large organisations giving cash assistance, and people still had savings. But now most organisations have left, or stopped providing cash and people’s savings have gone.
There are few ways to earn money, and hardly any food distribution centres.
Even if people can earn a small amount they send it back to relatives in Ukraine, who need humanitarian support.”
As we look into 2023, as refugees face a second year away from their homes, there is a real need to continue to support families both in Romania and Moldova.
In Moldova our accommodation services in Chisinau and rural Vatici remain essential to many families.
In Romania, we need to maintain our work with local authorities to support the orphans staying in Iasi and continue to distribute food to refugee families weekly. Additionally, there is now a need to help the refugees build community and integrate into society.
This support really is a lifeline. Each programme has been specifically chosen to meet the direct needs of each location and without that refugees really would have nothing.
As we look forward, please continue to support us so we can continue to help Ukrainian refugees.