Yuliya builds a new life in Moldova

Like many other Ukrainian families, Yuliya arrived in Moldova with her children in March 2022. From that moment on, their lives completely changed.

With tears in her eyes, Yuliya recalled how life was back in Ukraine: “We had a large household. We grew everything, a vegetable garden, chicken, pigs… we did everything by ourselves. But now, everything we had in the yard is destroyed.”

Yuliya and her family are among the 113,132 people who have settled in the Republic of Moldova after fleeing the war in Ukraine. Of these, the majority are women and children. Moldova has received the highest number of Ukrainian arrivals per capita since the start of the war, 978,296 according to the latest data, most of whom have moved on to other countries.

Yuliya shares her story with us. With tears in her eyes, Yuliya recalls how life was back in Ukraine. Photo: Michèle Carezis/NRC

Support at the North Community Centre

Yuliya is a Ukrainian single mom of a son, 12, and two daughters, 10 and 5. She visited the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)’s North Community Centre in Ocnita, north Moldova, after hearing about it from other Ukrainian refugees.

NRC partnered with Acted, People in Need (PIN), and REACH to create a consortium called PLACE, with the support of the European Union. Since the launch of PLACE in June 2023 at the North Community Centre, refugees and host communities have been accessing protection services, legal aid and counselling.

At the Centre, Yuliya met with NRC’s team, whose first task is to assess the needs of the people who come for assistance and provide immediate help or refer them to our partners or other organisations that can offer support.

Yuliya told our team what her family needed: “I was asking for food, hygienic products, and clothes for my kids because we had brought very few things. I had been travelling alone with my children. It was too complicated to travel with them, so I hadn’t taken too many bags.”

Yuliya received a hygiene kit from our team, containing laundry detergent, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, dish soap, shampoo, and gloves.

Yuliya and her three children in the living room of the house they live in the north of Moldova. Photo: Michèle Carezis/NRC

Love of farming

Yuliya lives with her family in a house in Hadarauti village, Ocnita that had been abandoned by its owners for more than ten years, which they ceded through the municipality temporarily to her and her family. She has started growing cucumbers, tomatoes, courgette, corn and potatoes in a field next to the house to provide for her family.

“Our situation is much better this year. We planted a kitchen garden for ourselves, so I already have some vegetables. It’s already a good thing,” says Yuliya.

When she has the money, Yuliya occasionally buys meat and milk and freezes part of it. She saves to put bread and butter on her children's plates.

“I’ve learned to save money for a rainy day. Before that, we used to go and spend the money without thinking much about expenses, but we can’t afford it any longer. When I receive the money, we distribute what we can, and I immediately save some to have at least a small amount remaining from payment to payment to get some bread and butter for the kids.”

NRC’s team referred Yuliya and her family to a local NGO distributing food supplies and to our partner, PIN, for recreational activities. One of her daughters has been participating in the activities organised by the PIN team at their child-friendly space in the North Community Centre.

Yuliya and her family are currently receiving support from our team to register for temporary protection in Moldova.

“I would rate the service received by NRC at the highest level possible, let’s put it that way. No matter what I asked, they explained everything clearly and comprehensibly and helped me whenever I asked,” she says.

Yuliya’s new home is in the north of Moldova—a typical rural Moldovan house. Photo: Michèle Carezis/NRC

Model of resilience

Life in Moldova is not as it used to be in Ukraine, but Yuliya works hard to build a decent and dignified life for her children. Today, they attend a local school and are learning Romanian, having new experiences in a new environment. Once again, Yuliya is growing vegetables in her backyard, this time in Moldova, and saving up to buy chicken and rabbits. She tries to be the best example of resilience her children could have.

NRC, Acted and PIN, with the support of the European Union, continue to provide essential services and activities to refugees and host communities in our North Community Centre, home to the PLACE Consortium – a welcoming space for those most vulnerable in the north of Moldova.  

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