Alberto Roca is one of many World Vision staff members from Romania currently on the boarder with Ukraine working hard to respond to the needs of women and children who have fled the current conflict.
- What did you see at the border?
On the Ukrainian side of the border to Romania, the queue stretched over 10km. I was on the Romanian side. I saw hundreds of mothers who have been forced to flee their homes alone with their children. They are without their husbands. The men are staying behind in Ukraine to fight. I saw confused children. I could see the despair in their eyes. Mothers pulled their youngsters along by the hand like suitcases, in a hurry to escape danger. The most emotional thing for me was seeing the children smile on receiving toy gifts. I knew that in all likelihood in the rush to leave home, they had probably not found space in their bags to pack their favourite toys.
2. What did the mothers tell you?
[Many] mothers were confused, afraid at the thought that they will probably have to care for their children alone, without their partners.
3. What kind of support was being provided by World Vision?
I talked to refugees, provided moral support, food, water and hygiene products.
4. What are going to be the biggest needs of Ukrainians arriving in Romania?
Mothers with children who arrive in Romania need emotional support, food, accommodations and transportation to get to relatives in Romania or in the rest of Europe. They need somewhere to stay and feel safe.
5. How do you see the situation developing?
All needs – food, housing, emotional support, and transport – are going to grow and grow as more refugees arrive in Romania. Available accommodations, which are already in short supply, will soon become exhausted. We expect an increasing number of people to arrive, given that hostilities in Ukraine only started a few days ago.
6. How are Romanians responding and what is their feeling about helping their neighbours?
I can say I’m proud of how Romanians and civil society here are handing the situation. People are showing empathy, support, and have immediately organised to help people arriving from Ukraine, doing all they can to assist. There were many food distribution points, clothes and other products needed for daily use, being handed out at the border point. World Vision was one of many organsiations helping.
7. How can we pray?
I think this is a moment of action and a moment of prayer. Only God can help the Ukrainian people have a country that is safe once more. I have hope that with all our prayers, they will.
8. What have you been praying for?
I’m praying for the children of Ukraine to be safe. I think in this moment they are so scared. They could suffer trauma that will last a lifetime. We must be there to help them.
9. How can we support?
We can provide support by being connected to needs of Ukrainians. We can improve their housing conditions; we can offer psychosocial support, and of course, we can meet food and hygiene needs.
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10. What is World Vision planning on doing to support Ukrainian refugees in Romania?
We are assessing the likely long-term needs of the displaced so we can cushion the impact of this conflict. We are trying to find accommodation for refugees, provide food, phone cards and of course helping people get transport to their desired destinations. We are organising teams to provide psychosocial counselling. We want children to be safe and we will work to create programmes that are protective and caring, so a child’s development is not harmed.