A three-day capacity-building workshop was conducted by World Vision for its five partners in Brasov, Romania. The training, supported by World Vision Singapore, aims to improve social stores management established for Ukrainian refugees’ basic needs, like food and non-food items (NFI).
Forty-three participants from multiple locations across Romania attended the workshop, representing the Romexpo Hub Center in Bucharest, the CATTIA Center in Brasov, the Nicolina Social Store in Iasi, the Social Store in Suceava, and World Vision’s Social Store in Constanța.
“This workshop brought together all the actors involved in the distribution of food and non-food items (NFI) through so-called social stores, intended to cover Ukrainian refugees’ basic needs,” said Alice Mihailescu, World Vision’s project manager.
Partners operating in refugee hub centers, including Bucharest General Directorate of Social Assistance (DGASMB), Brasov Metropolitan Agency for Sustainable Development (AMDDB), Federation of NGOs for Social Services (FONSS), the University of Suceava, have shared their distribution processes, practices, accomplishments, and challenges.
“Each partner and center address the same basic needs but organized differently. We explored solutions for better coordination and organized approach to the distribution of food and non-food items, as well as the utilization of the stores for future emergencies,” Mihailescu added.
When the war in Ukraine started, the social stores have been transformed into integrated hubs that provide a wide range of activities and services for refugees, playing a crucial role for community development and integration.
For instance, World Vision supports at least ninety percent of the basic needs supplies at the social store at the Romexpo Hub in Bucharest. This is done through ongoing projects funded by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) and World Vision Singapore. This hub is visited daily by over 800 people.
I truly appreciate that I had the opportunity to listen to the experiences of my peers and colleagues. We heard the stories about innovation in this field that broaden our knowledge.
“Partnerships can be sustainable and successful only when organizations share the same values,” said Cosmina Simiean the General Manager of Bucharest General Directorate of Social Assistance (DGASMB).
She continues, “As a result of this workshop, it became clear that both the Municipality of Bucharest and World Vision have the same goals which is serving the most vulnerable.”
The social store in the CATTIA hub center in Brasov targets a hundred families a day and operates six days a week. Additionally, the hub provides Ukrainian refugees with counseling, childcare, educational and communal activities, as well as Romanian language courses.
“The major challenge in our activity is the lack of a platform to track the assistance that the refugees received. Without this, duplication can happen and together we are trying to find solutions,” explains Andreea Vranceanu, Manager of the Brasov Metropolitan Agency for Sustainable Development (AMDDB), who coordinates the activities from CATTIA center.
She added, “I truly appreciate that I had the opportunity to listen to the experiences of my peers and colleagues. We heard the stories about innovation in this field that broaden our knowledge.”
“A public institution, a private business hub and a federation of NGOs will manage a social store in different ways. Some of us have access to certain apps and inventories, some do not,” explained Mihaela Munteanu, Communications and Advocacy Manager of the Federation of NGOs for Social Services (FONSS), who coordinates the Nicolina Center in Iasi.
She continues, “After this training, we established an experience base, learning from each other and now we can apply those useful skills in our own context.”
The project supported three social stores in Bucharest, Brasov, and Constanta by providing daily basic needs for Ukrainian refugees. Overall, World Vision Ukraine Crisis Response has provided food assistance to more than 110,000 Ukrainian refugees in Romania. Additionally, hygiene kits were distributed to more than 70,000 people.
Story by Laurentia Jora, Communications Officer I Photos by UCR Romania Team