Psychological Support in Times of Crisis: Empowering Moldova's VolunteersPublished: May 30, 2023 Reading time: 3 minutes
In Moldova, on 24 February 2022, just a few hours after Russia invaded Ukraine, hundreds of volunteers and members of non-governmental associations mobilised to support the enormous number of Ukrainians crossing the border into Moldova in search of safety for their families.
No one foresaw this scenario for Moldova, and managing this crisis was an immense task for those involved. Volunteers often worked day and night without breaks or sufficient time to sleep, eat, or care for their emotional needs.
"In March, everyone wanted to do at least something for Ukrainians. In those days, no one thought about how volunteers felt. They forgot to eat and get enough sleep. Because of exhaustion, I also felt a lack of desire to go on," Tamara Ababii, who works as a volunteer coordinator, told us.
Many months of intense, exhausting and emotionally difficult work followed. Because the role of these people is—and has been crucial, People in Need Moldova has set out to provide support to civil society representatives and voluntary organisations in the country, who have been with the people fleeing war all this time.
Thus, within the framework of our EU-funded psychosocial support programme "ACCES: Providing multi-sectoral humanitarian assistance to conflict-affected populations in Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova", volunteers who had been helping Ukrainians benefited from training, self-awareness activities, team building activities, as well as active communication with psychologists and psychotherapists. The sessions were organised as part of a broad support programme, and activities ranged from art therapy and drawing to mental health wellbeing therapy therapy. These activities are known for their confidence-boosting, emotional release, and relaxing effects.
"These people need adequate internal resources to continue the good things they are doing. It's important to continue to have energy and enthusiasm to help others. There is a need for activities that could supplement this level of energy," explained Natalia Haidei, project manager at PIN Moldova.
“The dedication and hard work of volunteers and non-governmental organisations in Moldova, who provided support to Ukrainian refugees after Russia’s full-scale invasion, is truly commendable. The European Union funds psychosocial support programmes to promote the well-being and resilience of volunteers, helping them to continue supporting those in need during these challenging times,” said Karima Hammadi from EU Humanitarian Aid in Moldova.
Even if the work of volunteers is not always in the spotlight, they are essential in providing social services to people in need. The psycho-emotional state of our volunteers is a critical factor in the outcome of our projects, as volunteers are the point of contact between donors and beneficiaries. Together we all contribute to achieving our goal of creating a world where people are not constrained by a society without freedoms, poverty, lack of opportunities or discrimination.