The day of February 23, 2022 did not indicate the tragedy that would start the following day: the beginning of the armed conflict in Ukraine. Since this fateful day of February 24, 2022, millions of people, especially lonely/single mothers with children, the elderly, and people with disabilities, have been forced to leave their homes, their families, and their hopes in search of safety, dignity, but above all, peace. And Moldova was on the path of their forced departure. To date, more than half a million of refugees have entered Moldova, with more than 80 000 choosing to stay in the country. These figures brought Moldova to be the state receiving the highest number of refugees per capita, and the first non-EU country facing this inflow. “A small country with a big heart” motto became a reality, given the spontaneous readiness of Moldovan citizens to open their homes to more than 80% of the refugees.
From the first day, Caritas Moldova, in partnership with 12 other Caritas organizations from the large Caritas Internationalis family, Charity Foundation Casa Providentei and other social structures of the Catholic Church of Moldova, came up with an immediate response in support of these extremely vulnerable people.
Accommodation, meals, cash, vouchers, psycho-emotional support, medical, transportation, legal, humanitarian and educational support were and are the integrated services provided by Caritas Moldova and its partners since the first day of the conflict in Ukraine within the support centres for refugees.
More than 50,000 people who received cash support, 25,000 families who received food and hygiene vouchers, tens of thousands of hot meals offered to those in need, over 1300 families who found peace and safety in our centres, thousands of hours of psycho-emotional support, thousands of hours of online and offline support provided by the staff of Caritas Moldova, the extraordinary team of the centre at the House of Providence in Chisinau, which opened its doors for refugees from Ukraine since February 27, are only a few from the services that, with devotion, passion and restless involvement, we have been provided to the less fortunate among us.
“After two months of sleeping in the basement of our house, in one day when my oldest daughter told me “Mommy I don’t want to die!”, I decided to leave Mykolaiv because it was already too dangerous to stay; we did not have a choice. We didn’t know where were we going? I had nothing; we left everything and It was only us—I didn’t know what we would do. We thought we will stay one night in the RAC of Caritas Moldova and Casa Providentei, and we are already for almost 6 months here. We received everything needed: a warm room, good food, clothes, psychological counseling, educational and art activities organized by volunteers for our kids, medicine, English and Romanian courses… a smile, a good word, openness to help and above all peace.”, shared with us Natalia, 35 years, single mother of 2 daughters.
And we won’t stop there. We will continue to help those who need us, who, now on the verge of winter, the energy crisis and poverty, need our hope, love, attention and care. Shelter, winter clothing and footwear, and wood and heating equipment are some of the services that Caritas Moldova aims to offer, at the national level, within the Winterization Program.
Considering that this conflict does not seem to end soon, we decided to offer support to children who need online education, after-school support (so that their parents can go to work) and complex educational activities to help the children of Ukrainian teenagers in Chisinau and beyond, to be able to continue their development on the healthiest possible principles, without trauma and in safe conditions.