A social canteen for the socially vulnerable turned into a refugee centre in one day – SOS Ukraine helps in MoldovaPublished: Sep 26, 2022 Reading time: 2 minutes
The village of Vulcăneşti is just six kilometres from the Moldova-Ukraine border. Within days of the outbreak of war in Ukraine, this village became a refuge for hundreds of refugees. Thanks to support from our SOS Ukraine fundraiser, Ukrainians fleeing to Moldova have found safety and a roof over their heads.
Before the war, Nadejda Mocan ran a canteen for the socially vulnerable in Vulcăneşti. Two days after the invasion of Ukraine, it was turned into a refugee centre, and to this day, it continues to help women and children from Ukraine to adapt to life in Moldova.
Nadejda's canteen has been operating for six years and focuses typically on supporting socially vulnerable families and individuals for whom it prepares hot lunches. On 26 February, however, it turned into a refugee centre. Mothers with children in particular find accommodation there, as well as the possibility of legal support. Nadejda is a psychologist, and she organises psychosocial help for women. Some of whom have spent weeks hiding in basements, and some of whom don't know if their sons and husbands are still alive.
Forget about the war for a while
Local volunteers have prepared programs for refugees, for example, cooking lessons focused on local specialities. The women participate in learning some simple recipes—poğaça (stuffed buns) or sigara börek (crispy rolls of very fine dough)—and have the chance to forget the horrors of war temporarily.
"There will be psychosocial training called 'Stress–enemy or friend' to help the women better understand themselves, reduce their anxiety, and increase their resistance to stress. And at the same time, make them able to fight fears by undertaking certain exercises, which will help them relax and believe in themselves," notes Nadejda on how psychosocial support works at the centre.
According to UNHCR, 618,000 Ukrainians have crossed Moldova and 91,000 remain. About 13,500 inhabitants live in Vulcăneşti, and people with nowhere to go can also stay in one of the three social houses run by the centre.
"We came to Vulcăneşti from Mykolayiv. We were moving and did not know where we would get. Then we came here and got to the centre of Mrs Nadejda. We are very grateful to her for hosting us and for helping us with accommodation and products. We stayed one month in the basement, hiding from bombs, shooting, and war. We are very grateful to her for this. Thank you," says Ludmila from Ukraine, who found a safe place to stay at the local centre.