From computer engineer to car mechanic, a Ukranian’s journey to secure his family in Moldova

“We had no idea where to go when the war broke out,” shares Maryna from Ukraine, now a refugee in Moldova.

At the shrill sound of sirens, Maryna’s family fled war-torn Kharkiv after two weeks of massive shelling. Six people and a wiry dog were crammed into a four-seater car in March 2022, and drove out early in the morning with no specific destination in mind.

But they were certain of one thing - they were heading away from war.

“We drove for hours making several stops since we were not allowed to travel after six in the evening. With the border crossings, it took us more than two weeks to reach Hungary”, recalls Maryna.

After driving for more than 2000km, her husband Mykhailo, decided to turn the car around to Moldova. “That was a last-minute move after passing through Moldova. We were on our way to Italy when I received a phone call from a friend advising me about a job in Chisinau,” shares Maryna.

Settling in

For the first months in Moldova, the entire family shared a small room in a refugee center in Chisinau. “My spouse, three children, my mother, and a dog were all squeezed in a small space. It was our only option at the time,” the woman recalls.

Maryna and Mykhailo, along with their twins Volodymyr and Irena, and their beloved dog, in their apartment in Chisinau, Moldova after fleeing Kharkiv, Ukraine in March 2022. The family is hosted by Yuri, a Moldovan national.


After weeks of living the place, the family met Yuri, a Moldovan who opened his heart and home to them. “Yuri offered us his apartment, which helped our family greatly,” shares Mykhailo.

As part of World Vision’s cash assistance program supported by the World Food Programme (WFP), and the local authorities, Yuri receives monthly assistance. Thousands of Moldovan hosts like Yuri can provide a safe place to live for Ukrainians.

“World Vision’s assistance is critical at this time. It allows me to maintain the property and help Ukrainian refugees. With gas, electricity, and food prices soaring, the assistance is desperately required,” says Yuri.

A few weeks ago, half of Yuri’s warehouse and apartment burned down in a massive fire. Even so, he doesn’t complain. He argues that his personal struggles are not a justification for not helping others.

I never imagined changing careers, but life doesn’t always give you a choice. I had to be flexible and receptive to every opportunity that came my way. This is the only way to adjust in a crisis.

“Life alters your perspective instantly. At times like this, we must rely on one another. It is just human nature to extend help,” Yuri explains.

Employment perspectives

Maryna secured a job in Moldova and within two days, she started working as a psychologist, providing psychosocial support to fellow Ukrainian in refugee centers.

A year on, she noticed a positive shift how the Ukrainian refugees value mental health. “At first, many of them were reserved and afraid to open up,” she explains. “But over time and encouragement, they are now eager to share and strive for healing.”

Unlike Maryna, her husband Mykhailo struggled for half a year to find. Back in Ukraine, he worked as a computer engineer.

“I learned about a free auto-mechanic course and decided to learn another field. The training lasts five months, and I am in my third month. It will be followed by another eight weeks of practice. After completing the program, I can work as an auto technician,” shares Mykhailo.

He continues, “I never imagined changing careers, but life doesn’t always give you a choice. I had to be flexible and receptive to every opportunity that came my way. This is the only way to adjust in a crisis.”

Building a future in Moldova

Zackariya, 18, the Ukrainian couple’s eldest son, has been admitted to a university in Chisinau, where he is studying physics and engineering.

Irina Popa World Vision's team leader for the WFP-funded project in Moldova, talks to Yuri, the host who assisted the family, and Maryna.


“His professors and classmates made the transition smooth. After almost a year, he was satisfied with his studies”, his mother Maryna says.

In the small room furnished with wooden poles, stuffed with books, twins Volodymyr and Irena, 13, are diligently doing their schoolwork. In September 2022, the twins began studying at a high school in Chisinau and can already grasp a few phrases in Romanian.

“It was challenging to adjust at first, but I’ve made some excellent friends at school, and my teachers are quite supportive,” shares Volodymyr.

Irena adds, “I was nervous when we first came to Moldova and started school, but now I feel more confident. Learning Romanian is not easy, but I embrace the challenge.”

She concludes, “I believe Moldova, despite its size, handled the refugee situation admirably. We are accepted and welcome here.”

As of today, World Vision has reached more than 103,000 people with cash and voucher programs, supporting Ukrainian refugees and host communities in Georgia, Moldova, Romania, and Ukraine.

In partnership with the World Food Programme, Communitas, Food Bank, Step by Step, HelpAge, and AVE Copiii, World Vision has provided humanitarian assistance to 60,334 individuals in 32 districts of Moldova, responding to the needs of Ukrainians and hosting families.

Story and photos by Laurentia Jora, Communications Officer