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Life Stories of Ukrainian Refugees in the Republic of Moldova

Victor and Liudmila Badicean, both around 80 years old, greeted us on the porch of their house in the village of Tirnova, Donduseni. They spent their entire lives in the city of Toretsk, located within the settlement triangle of Avdiivka – Horlivka – in the Donetsk region, where, even now, some of the fiercest battles for Ukraine’s defense against Russian invaders are unfolding. The deep lines on their faces bear witness to the resilience of a people who, despite discouraging forecasts, continue to defend and resist a force that aims to strip them of their freedom.

“I’m over 80 years old and have grown accustomed to being called a retiree, but we’ve been refugees for two years already. I never imagined that we would witness the final chapter of our lives’ movie far from home,” were the only words Liudmila managed through tears, after which her husband, Victor, continued the conversation. They were encouraged by the nurses from the medico-social center “St. Iuliana”, which has made this family beneficiaries of the project “Medical and Social Services for Ukrainian Refugees from Moldova – Phase III”, funded by the international organization Help – Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe e.V.

“For us, Toretsk residents, the war began back in 2014, with the first wave of Russian aggression. For eight years, the war seemed to be on pause – the troop movements were minimal. It felt as though we had grown accustomed to it. But on February 24, 2022, it was as if the gates of hell had opened. I had only seen such horror in World War II films and never thought those scenes of filmmakers’ imagination could become reality.

Until the last moment, I couldn’t believe that the military confrontations would escalate further. Suddenly, it became clear that there was no house in the city left untouched by the war’s devastation. My son’s house was leveled, as was our neighbors’. Then came the utility outages – first electricity, then water, and gas. We had grown accustomed to that too, not to mention the bullets and shells whizzing by us daily.”

The decision to leave was made as soon as a shell, landing in their garden, destroyed the neighbors’ houses and damaged their own. Victor was also injured – he could no longer drive. Like everyone living on the frontline, they had their documents and bags ready, but their plans had to be revised.

“After suffering a brain contusion, I was no longer able to drive, so we left our car near the damaged house and evacuated in a borrowed car. I dropped everything and left. All that I had accumulated over a lifetime remained there. It brings tears to my eyes when I recall how well we lived, not realizing it at the time. It’s only when you lose everything that you understand what you had.”

They crossed the border at Otaci in June 2022 and have since been living in an old house provided by gracious hosts, paying only for utilities. They survive thanks to the aid from the “Sf. Iuliana” center.

“Upon our arrival here, we braced for the worst, as we didn’t have the money to buy even a loaf of bread. But then the women from Homecare found us. From that moment, our lives began to improve – we are regularly supplied with food, hygiene kits, duvets, bed linens, and kitchenware. The primary medical care and consultations we receive through their help are top-notch. We cherish every visit because nothing is more unbearable than loneliness.”

Parting from this family was difficult – they were still eager to share, showing us all the photos saved on their phone: the house they had left behind, their children, their grandchildren – a three-generation family history. We hoped that they could return home soon. Their response, though unexpected, was also somewhat predictable:

“When I crossed the Dniester on the bridge from Otaci and entered Moldova, my son called, asking how long I planned to stay. I can’t recall exactly what I said, other than that I have nothing to return to. Now, we tell them firmly – ‘forever.'”

The Association “HOMECARE”, with the financial backing of the international organization HELP – Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe e.V., under the project “Medical and Social Services for Ukrainian Refugees from Moldova – Phase III”, continues to provide crucial support to Ukrainian refugees, thereby contributing to the Republic of Moldova’s efforts to offer necessary health and social protection services amid the ongoing influx of refugees.

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Uncategorized 26 March 2024