As Russian troops began their offensive into the southern regions of Ukraine in early 2022, the Ukrainian army urged the local populations to evacuate. Dona Maria, an elderly woman, and her disabled husband were boarded onto a bus in Zaporizhzhia and transported to Romania, leaving everything and everyone they knew behind.
Dona Maria and her husband were eventually resettled in Bucharest, the capital city of Romania, where they were met by volunteers in emergency centers managed by FDP Protagonists in Education. AVSI-USA, with funding from the Dorothea Haus Ross Foundation, has been supporting FDP’s programs for children with special educational needs. She, like many other Ukrainians, has gotten involved in efforts to support their fellow countrymen in ways that help them find meaning in the harrowing situations caused by the war.
We met Dona Maria during a visit in October to AVSI-USA supported activities in Poland and Romania as part of our emergency campaign on behalf of Ukrainian refugees. Dona Maria had been recruited by FDP to act as a translator in a mobile reception unit for refugees, providing registration services, meals, clothing, and information about temporary housing or psychosocial services. In the afternoons, she volunteers at the FDP center, which offers art and recreational activities for Ukrainian children so they can feel welcome and safe while engaging in some normal activities after having suffered war trauma. On the day we visited FDP, there was a group of Ukrainian children who had been separated from their parents. The kids engaged in various games and crafts with a psychologist and other adults. Dona Maria’s presence was immediately reassuring to the children, like having your grandmother nearby to encourage and comfort you in the struggles of life.
Your donations will help FDP continue its outreach to Ukrainian families and children.