“When there is peace, we will go home to Odesa”. A Roma organisation is helping Ukrainian refugees in Moldova.Published: Apr 12, 2022 Reading time: 2 minutes
Thirteen members of one family left the Ukrainian city of Odesa on 1st March. They fled with the sound of gunfire and bombing ringing loudly. The family travelled to safety in Moldova, the poorest country in Europe. Where they have sought shelter in the village of Cărbuna, in southern Moldova, about an hour from the capital, Chisinau. Here, they are being helped by the Roma organisation ROMNI, an organisation that People in Need has financially supported through the SOS Ukraine emergency appeal fundraising campaign.
"The children started crying, and it was a shock for them. Noise, shooting. We got in the car and drove away because they were already bombing near us at that time. We dropped everything and left," says Kirish, a young mother from Odesa. Kirish is speaking to us at their rented house in a village of Cărbuna, where we are currently surrounded by seven children of the extended family running around her.
Because the family fled quickly, they took almost no belongings with them. Locals of Cărbuna village connected them with Elena Sirbu, the head of the ROMNI Roma women's platform. She was able to help them thanks to money raised in the Czech Republic through the SOS Ukraine emergency appeal collection. "I am very grateful to People in Need. It was the first and is still the only one that allows us to help these people by buying food, medicine, groceries, everything that children need, i.e. diapers, baby food," Elena Sirbu says.
In addition to material assistance, ROMNI helps refugees from Ukraine to navigate Moldovan bureaucracy and offers legal services. They have provided housing for seven families. ROMNI operates in Moldova and Transnistria. They have helped more than 500 people since the outbreak of war in Ukraine. "Thank you for helping Ukrainians. Everything we own at home; we have left everything at home. When there is peace, we will go home," Kirish says.