SITUATION IN COUNTRY
A little over a month has passed since the beginning of the military conflict in Ukraine. During this period, over 4 million people have sought refuge in neighbouring countries. Another 6.5 million have been displaced within Ukraine.
Between February 24 and March 31, 2022, 390,239 of these refugees have crossed into Moldova (including 355,133 Ukrainians and 35,106 non-Ukrainian citizens). Moldova became a transit point, with 75.6% of these refugees moving on to other areas of Europe within 72 hours, while the remaining 24.4% decided to remain in Moldova indefinitely. Nearly half (49.7%) of these refugees are minors.
The last 10 days of March saw a significant drop in the influx of refugees to Moldova (80–86.6% fewer than in the first three weeks). The majority of the refugees remaining in Moldova are being hosted in:
- private homes
- community placement centers
- rented facilities
The other 30% are staying in state and municipal refugee centers.
BOL and Light to the World Church, in partnership with other churches, are addressing this crisis in a holistic manner. During the last 10 days, we provided the following emergency assistance:
- 24/7 Helpline for Refugees
- Refugee Transportation
- Refugee Support at Border Crossings
- Refugee Placement Centers and Accommodation in Our Members’ Homes
- Serving in Municipal Placement Centers in Chisinau
- Support through BOL’s Ongoing Programs
24/7 helpline for refugees
Due to the reduced influx of refugees at the Moldova border, this past week saw a significant drop in the number of people calling our helpline.
In addition, the nature of requests for helps is changing towards longer-term needs, such as:
- rent assistance
- spring clothing and shoes
- help with accessing options for education
We have directly assisted around 85 women and children, and through our partnering churches have assisted about 300 more people. This includes opening up the homes of church members and through reception centers set up in church facilities.
We also received calls about people who were lost and other calls about suspicious individuals. We referred these calls to the police.
We transported around 165 people within the country, both from border checkpoints and between communities. Using a bus and 9 cars, we ferried people between placement centres and train and bus terminals. We also provided bus and train tickets to those wanting to leave Moldova for Romania, Poland, or Germany.
Refugee Support at Border Crossings
Given the decreasing number of refugees crossing the Moldovan border, we have stopped visiting border points. However, we are able to re-activate this ministry if the need arises. All equipment purchased for this service remains at local churches.
Refugee placement centers and accommodation in our members’ homes
We supplied a placement center in the town Taraclia, where in the college dormitory and local homes are housing between 400 and 450 refugees. At the request of the local mayors’ council, BOL provided:
- hygiene supplies
- bedding materials
We also provided bedding to 2 other communities in southern Moldova. We provided food and hygiene supplies to 47 individuals who requested assistance.
Serving in Municipal Placement Centers in Chisinau
BOL and Light to the World Church are taking part in “Christian Help for Refugees”. This event is a joint initiative of Evangelical churches and ministries in Moldova. As part of this initiative, we served women and children at “MoldExpo” State Refugee Center, which currently houses 310 people. Together with a team of volunteers from Christian Help for Refugees, we set up bouncy castles and organized games for children. We also received a request for art therapy for women within MoldExpo.
In addition, one of our mobile teams is attending a reception centre for refugees in Baltsata, serving 35 children and their mothers on a weekly basis. The centre, organized by the Union of Baptist Churches, hosts around 200 people.
Support for refugees through BOL’s ongoing programs
In the last two weeks we received 30 phone calls from people asking if their children can join BOL programs (Early Child Education Center Urban Kids and the Urban Teens and Urban Youth outreach clubs). Many refugees who have stayed in the area started attending BOL and church programs. The demand was so high that we opened a new group for refugee moms with their little children.
Our Psychological Art Studio continues offering individual counseling to address the trauma these women and children have gone through.
We also host weekly Bible study groups and Sunday church services for refugees.
Feedbacks and Stories
“We are so thankful that we have brothers and sisters who invested so much time and energy in serving broken women and children, during this crisis. Many others needed to change their approach and programs while the BOL team was already doing that. Thank you for helping us here.” Anna Petrenko, coordinator of children’s engagement at Baltsata Refugee Center.
“I was crying when saw a 9-years-old boy at the border take his father’s place, to care for his mom and sisters. These children are so brave.” Eugene S.
“The past months have been so exhausting. I was worn out emotionally and could not sleep due to constant phone calls and meetings, but I am so happy to be part of this God-work with people in such great need.” Anna U.
Story of Nastea
Our team spent the week at MoldExpo Refugee Center. From the first day there was a little girl, about 11 or 12 years old, who was hanging around our team all of the time we were there. I noticed her in the crowd of children who were playing in the playground we brought. She tried to help us, and be as close as possible. Whenever possible, she tried to get a hug from the team members. She was very quite and shy, but in her eyes anyone could easily read deep pain. We spent some time talking with her and she shared with us what she and her mom and little brother have gone through in the past weeks.
We were living in small room in a dormitory, in Kharkiv. I was attending school and my brother was preparing to go to school this year. We heard a loud sound outside in the early morning, and mom told me something had probably happened at the factory. A little later we heard many more explosions. The women in the hallway said the war had started and that we all had to escape. Because the explosions were so close, mom took us to the dormitory’s basement. Something blew up very close to us and people started to scream and cry. It was very scary. Then soldiers came and helped us get on a bus to leave home. We slept in different places for several days before we came to a big crowd of people who were slowly walking somewhere. Mom told me we needed to walk with them. It was so cold outside and I was very tired. Misha was crying.
At the border, a woman gave us bananas and juice, which I really liked. A bus drove us to this center. We live here, in a small room, but I was so happy when I looked through the window and saw you start inflating your bouncy castle. It reminded me of a park in my hometown. I would love to bring my mom here, because she often cries. I don’t know where we will go or when I will see my father, my grandma, or my cat.
Nastea is one of the 1,000s of children who are suffering from this war, but she received God’s love through a hug.
Thank you for supporting our country and our team in prayers. God bless you!