Ukrainian refugees found a welcoming support community in Romania’s humanitarian hub
“What is happening in my city, and other cities in Ukraine, breaks my heart. We miss our home as much as all Ukrainians who fled because of the war”, says 37-year-old Yulia. She left Odesa in Ukraine last March 2022 along with her husband and three children.
“When we arrived in Romania, we were hosted by a kind Romanian family. They gave us a fresh start, helping us find our own apartment, and a job for my husband. Romania accepted us warmly”, she added.There are approximately 86,000 refugees from Ukraine who sought refuge in Romania, according to a UNHCR report.
From a volunteer center in Brasov, Yulia heard about RomExpo, the humanitarian hub in Bucharest, Romania’s capital, where they can be provided with assistance especially for their immediate needs.
Inos Mugabe, World Vision’s Ukraine Crisis Response Operations Director for Romania said Yulia’s family are now among the thousands of refugees who have access the RomExpo social store after their registration.
“At the social store, they can select things that they need for their family. It provides every refugee the freedom to choose”, Mugabe added. He said the concept is unique as organizations normally provide prescribed food package. This evolved after people sent donations food and materials.
The center is significant and very helpful for Ukrainians. It is a community where we can always find our people in a foreign land.
Yulia’s three children have started school in Romania, found new friends and adjusted to their new environment. “But they always ask about their grandparents who were left behind in Odesa. We call them every day to check if they are fine”, she shared.
The center did not only provide for their needs but they also found a community where they can listen to updates, share their stories and their adjustment to a new life away from Ukraine.
“The center is significant and very helpful for Ukrainians. It is a community where we can always find our people in a foreign land. The organizations are very nice because you receive free assistance with whatever you need like food, clothes, or medicine, which are the most basic human needs”, Yulia said.
They also received support from World Vision’s cash assistance program to help them with their needs as they settled. “My family got a one-time payment of 600 RON (around USD124) for each child. We prepared our documents and claimed it from the bank.”
World Vision’s response work for Ukrainian refugees and host communities in Romania has reached out to nearly 100,000 people. Among the support provided include food and cash assistance, psycho-social activities, child protection and hygiene kits, and educational assistance.
Story by Cecil Laguardia, Communications Director I Photos by Eugene Combo and Christopher Lete/Communications