It has been a year since the notion of war passed from history books and TV news to become a very close geographical reality. This year, each of us met refugees, heard their stories or even got involved in supporting those who found an oasis of peace in our country. It’s a year that gave us an extra lesson of empathy, but it also showed us how fragile and therefore how valuable peace is.
From the first days of the war, when uncertainty intertwined with the need for immediate help for a large number of people, who became vulnerable overnight, United Way Romania mobilized and had a prompt response.
The refugees received emergency support by providing basic products at the entry points into the country from Oancea and Sighet, but also support in transit centers in various areas of the country. Soon we expanded our presence at Siret border and Gara de Nord (main railway station in Bucharest).
In addition to the material support, which consisted of food, cleaning and personal hygiene products, phone cards and social vouchers that allowed the refugees to purchase their necessities, the refugees also received emotional support and advice concerning their options, depending on what they wanted to do next, stay for a while in our country or go to other countries. During this time, their children were able to play in playgrounds set up in the transit areas, giving the adults also a chance to think and plan their next steps.
In the transit centers, the refugees stayed from a few hours to a few days, depending on their needs. Here, they received warm meals and anything else they needed (hygiene products, basic medicines, trolley bags, etc.). At the same time, they received help with transportation to various institutions to solve problems related to transfer to other destinations/states, obtaining documents. Where necessary, they received support with the translation of documents.
Throughout 2022, 30.139 refugees received emergency support from United Way, either at points of entry or in transit centers, through informational, educational, medical or material assistance.
For refugees who decided to stay in our country for medium term, together with our partners, we have developed adapted projects, focused on United Way’s three established areas of intervention:
– Education – access to education and educational activities for Ukrainian children,
– Socio-professional integration – social counseling for integration into local communities, career guidance, legal advice for a better understanding of the labor market in Romania,
– Health programs – mental health programs such as counseling and psychological therapy, creation of an anxiety management guide, developed in Ukrainian, and other health programs such as emergency dental treatments for refugees, or heart treatments.
Through these projects, 4.230 refugees from Ukraine received the necessary support, as follows:
• 1.724 children benefited from non-formal education activities, Romanian/English language courses, support in continuing their studies in the online system in Ukraine, but also support in enrolling in the Romanian education system, if they desired.
• 864 adults received support through social counseling, support related to accessing a job.
• 843 children and 1.487 adults benefited from group and individual psychological counseling sessions, mental health workshops, dental treatments, packages with personal and oral hygiene products as well as information on how to face anxiety provided in the form of a guide developed within the projects.
During 2022, United Way helped 34.369 people who fled the war and found emergency and medium-term refuge in Romania.
“I don’t know if you, the people who support these programs for us Ukrainians, realize how important the help you are giving to us is. The fact that we can participate for free in the activities organized especially for us, that we can make new friends and that you do everything you can to make us feel welcome in your country, even if we don’t know the language, means so much to us. My family and I thank everyone who supports us in these difficult times and we guarantee that no kindness will go unrewarded! Thank you, Romania!”, Lyudmila, one of the people supported by United Way, told us.
What many predicted as a weeklong war has now become a yearlong war. The waves of refugees may have subsided, but the needs of those who overnight lost everything they had fought for a lifetime remain great. Some need support to adapt to the life in a new country whose language they don’t know, others need psychological help to overcome the trauma they went through, and others need support to find a job. All this we can ensure only with the support of our donors.
Donate online and be there for Ukrainian refugees! Use the code Ukraine, and donate HERE.
Every donation makes their stay in our country more comfortable and reassures them that the power of humanity defeats war!