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Stories of Ukrainian refugees in Moldova

Friday 15 December 2023

Marina, hosted at the FIDES center

Marina_réfugiés ukrainiens Moldavie

Marina is a stunning young lady of 34 coming from Kyiv. She has a son of 8,5. His name is Iulian. As you see from the photos, Marina is waiting for a second baby who is due in December this year. She is very happy and excited and all the staff from Fides center is too because this will be the second baby born by a woman living there.

Marina came to Moldova since the beginning of the war and lived here at a friend’s house for one year. After, she returned to Kyiv but decided to come back to Chisinau in September this year because she thought it would be safer to give birth to the baby here rather than in Ukraine.

In the present, Iulian studies at the Ukrainian online school. He is a very sweet and active boy, and he can’t wait for his brother to come. Marina even let him choose the name and he decided that the little one will be called Vova (Volodymir). The mother admits that he is even more enthusiastic about the new family member than she is.

Unfortunately, Marina divorced Iulian’s father one year ago and met another man that also abandoned her when he learned that she is pregnant. Even so, she is very happy, and she says that this new baby gives her inspiration and power to go on.

Last year, when Marina came to Moldova, she came together with her son and her parents who are both disabled. Nowadays the parents live in a village at the North of Moldova, and she is paying salary to a friend to look after them.

Marina does not have a job, but she is a volunteer at a refugee center. She works there full time and says she is thankful because she can get products, hygienic kits and other help.

Last year, a bad thing happened to Marina, something that could have shattered her will to help other refugees. She was pregnant (with another baby, not the one who is about to be born in December) and she worked at the refugee center. One lady was not happy with the amount of offered help and threw a fish can to Marina’s head. She was bleeding and she was so scared that she lost her baby because of the stressful incident. She also admits that she has lost many babies before, and this is an extra reason she treasures Iulian and the unborn baby so much now.

Even if she is a single mom, has her disabled parents into her care and works as a volunteer from morning till dark, Marina is a very positive person. She does not know what the future has for her and does not know if she will ever return to live in Ukraine, but she is sure that everything will be all right anyway, and she will continue to help other people in need no matter what.   

Valentina, hosted at the FIDES center

Valentina_réfugié ukranien Moldavie

Valentina is a woman from Zhytomyr. She used to live with her parents, her two children and her husband who is a Moldovan but shortly before the war started, her father suffered a heart attack and passed away. Two months after this happened, her mother followed him and died too and if this wasn’t enough for Valentina, her husband abandoned her and their children moving to Moldova.

Not being able to cope with all the stress, Valentina’s health suffered heavily. She was diagnosed with colon cancer. Because her body could not carry out with its natural functions, the doctors announced that she should have a surgery and have a stoma introduced. These procedures were carried out in Odessa because the hospitals in Valentina’s city did not have the needed equipment. The way from Valentina’s home to Odessa takes many hours by bus and she had to ask a neighbor to babysit her kids while she was away.

Unfortunately, Valentina’s problems did not end here. The doctors told her that she should visit the hospital regularly for a series of chemotherapy procedures, and this news coincided with the beginning of the war. Because she is a single mother, Valentina was left with one only solution, that is to come to Moldova and ask for help from her ex-husband and his family. This happened in November 2022. The way they reacted to her, and her children’s arrival was unpleasantly unexpected. The man’s family only accepted to have the children live at their house while the rest of Valentina’s problems were none of their concern.

For several months the woman had to live at different friends and acquaintances until some volunteers found out about her situation and suggested she goes to Fides center. There she finally found the support she was so desperate for. She continued her chemotherapy courses (in total ten!), took her children from the relatives and now they all live together at the center.

The oncologist that consults Valentina at the moment says it is time to remove her stoma and said that the best way to do this is to go in a clinic in Germany. Unfortunately, the doctors from Germany said she is ineligible for their services, but Valentina is not willing to go anyway because of her children.

Daniil and Vova, Valentina’s sons attend the local school in Moldova. Daniil is seven years old and Vova is 14. While the youngest one copes with the situation rather well, Vova is permanently trying to avoid going to school motivating this with the fact that he has stomach aches, and no one wants to make friends with him. Valentina sadly admits that he has become very sad and antisocial since all the issues in their lives started.

Valentina is also a very sad woman, not very hopeful when talking about the future. She does not know what she wants to do further, but a short while ago she started visiting a psychologist provided by the Fides center and hopefully this will help her.

Natalia, histed in the North of Moldova, in Balti

Natalia_réfugiés ukrainien Moldavie

Natalia is a beautiful, smiley lady of 38 from Odessa, Ukraine. In the present she lives in Balti, Republic of Moldova. She is here since 25th of February 2022.

In Odessa she used to live with her husband, Andrei and their little daughter, Anastasia.

When the war started and their hometown stopped from being a peaceful and safe place, Andrei was sent to war even if he never had anything to do with the military field. He was first sent to Kyiv where he was slightly instructed on how to fight and further to Kharkiv where he is a soldier up to now. Currently Kharkiv is one of the hottest spots affected by the war.

Natalia’s decision to move to Moldova occurred immediately after the first heard explosions in Odessa. She chose Balti because she has an aunt living here and the aunt was glad to let the affected relatives into her apartment for as long as it takes. Their trip was a very difficult one and Natalia was very scared. She says she was very lucky that her little child was the one with more courage and she comforted her mother all the way.

In her hometown, Natalia was a housewife. She says she was spending almost all of her time with her daughter. They loved to do art, makeup and visit different places.

Today Natalia does the same in Balti but not only with Anastasia. She became a teacher in the teens’ project which is sponsored by Caritas Luxembourg. She is responsible for approximately 18 teenagers which adore the way she is and all the activities they do together (cooking, diy, excursions, table games, etc.).

Natalia’s kid is currently 8 years old, and she attends the local Moldovan school. Even so, she also follows the homework from her Odessa school online because she tries to keep up with the Ukrainian curriculum.

Natalia admits that her biggest dream is to reunite with her husband. Sadly, they are not even able to talk online. He is only able to text her once or twice a month just to let her know he is still alive.

Even if she likes Moldova very much and made dozens of new friends and she grew very fond of her young students, she misses her home and her family being together.

Vadym, living in Balti

Vadym_réfugiés ukrainien MoldavieVadym Grabchuk is a Ukrainian businessman of 39 living in the present in Floresti, a city situated in the north of the Republic of Moldova. He left Vinnytsia, his hometown in Ukraine at the very beginning of the war (February 2022). Many wonder how such a young and healthy man as Vadym was let out of Ukraine because most such men are sent to war. The explanation is that he and his wife are the parents of four. At first, he and his children came to Moldova and his wife joined them after a short while. They chose namely this country because they thought it would be easier to adapt thanks to the lack of the language barrier and short distance from home.

At the beginning, Vadym and his family rented a house in Hyrtop, a little village, but during the summer they decided to move to Dumbrava Alba (the former kids summer camp sponsored partially by Caritas Luxembourg). He says they had a great time there and made good friends with everyone. They always participated in all the activities and Vadym, being one of the very few men living there, was helping in the household and with the constructions.

When it got colder, Vadym already managed to make many connections in the professional area and even initiated a company of his own and the idea to move to Moldova definitely started to occur to his mind. He contacted his and his wife’s parents and they all invested their money in a small house in Floresti. Nowadays Vadym and his wife are the proud owners of a house with a yard and a garden where he is planning to plant vineyards and trees and to make wine like native Moldovans do.

Vadym’s children are all attending the local school, except the older daughter who is already a student at the local university. Her faculty has lessons in English and Ukrainian.

Vadym, besides being a very good husband and father, is very active in the social life. He is teaching the teenagers from the refugee teens center (also partially sponsored by Caritas Luxembourg, including Vadym’s salary) IT and carpentry. Using his new company, he also constantly looks for funds to support the Ukrainian refugees. He already managed to take the children and their parents to five excursions to the aqua park during the summer. The total number of people who attended the adventure was of approximately one hundred.

In the present, Vadym is continuing to develop as a member of the Ukrainian community in Moldova and as a professional. He attends numerous workshops that help him in his profession and learns Romanian language (very successfully).

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