Iryna is a marketing professional who fled Ukraine to Romania with her nine year old daughter and her parents last February, when the Russian attacks made it too dangerous to stay any longer. Read her story...
When we spoke with Iryna she felt tired, she hadn’t slept as she knew her home city of Zaporizhzhya in Ukraine had been under attack the night before.
“I still want to go home” says Iryna, “I wait for it everyday”.
Iryna and her family didn’t plan to go to Romania. They decided on travelling to Bulgaria because the language and culture there is more similar to Ukrainian. She also describes Poland as a very close country in terms of culture, but already knew at the time that so many refugees had already gone there, it would be overrun.
A YEAR ON
The Drop in centre in Iasi, Romania supported by Children on the Edge was providing food parcels and basic supplies for around 200-300 people every week at the start of the crisis, now the need has increased, but there is only enough supplies to cater for 500-600 people each fortnight. Marius told us that the drop in opens on Tuesday every two weeks, and how one lady arriving said that “Tuesday is the best day in my life”.
Towards the end of 2022, a Day Centre was set up, as a community hub and socialising space for Ukrainian refugees in Iasi. Iryna says “The centre is the most popular place to go. People book into the sessions months in advance because they are always over subscribed. This tells me they are doing something right!”
The centre offers a huge variety of activities from Romanian lessons, dance, exercise, painting, games, IT support, and a space for children to do their online schooling together, rather than isolated at home. The space can be used for meetings or family birthdays, and doctors even visit to give consultations.
When we asked Iryna how this is different from other refugee services in the city she said:
COMING TO TERMS WITH NOT GOING HOME
Iryna now has some freelance work at a Romanian marketing company. She describes how it took her a while to accept that she would need to try and make something of her life in Romania. She spent the first six months volunteering so she wouldn’t focus on the trauma she had been through, and the worry and uncertainty.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
The Ukrainian refugees we support, like Iryna are no closer to getting home. They expected to take refuge for a few weeks, but weeks became months and now, a year later, Europe’s biggest conflict since 1945 is no nearer to a conclusion.
This time last year, the media was awash with hundreds of people from all walks of life, uniting to help Ukrainian refugees. A year on, these families still need our help.
After our initial emergency response, we are now focusing on those refugees who are faced with the reality of a long term stay in Romania and Moldova. Ukrainian refugees now need quality support, connection and agency.
To support Ukrainian refugees as they face a second year away from home we are:
Please support our appeal and help to provide a vital lifeline to marginalised Ukrainian refugees.