“Even though we live in different regions of Moldova, the challenges we have to overcome and difficulties we encounter are the same.”
This was the view of most of the Ukrainian young people that participated in the 'Speak UP! Storytelling for Social Cohesion' event organised by Lumos Moldova last weekend in Chisinau.
We invited 14 young people (including 12 from Ukraine), aged 12 to 16, currently residing in Floresti and Ialoveni districts to participate in a two-day event where they could share thoughts and talk openly about their integration in Moldova.
“It was important for us to bring together young people from Ukraine, to offer them the opportunity to meet their co-nationals and to create a platform for an exchange of information, opinions and views between them”, said Eugenia Godoroja, Lumos CYP advisor.
Participants were asked to create and present stories about their own integration into their new environment, including difficulties they encountered, challenges they had to overcome, solutions they found and help they received. For this, they were encouraged to tell their stories by making a collage or creating pictures of their experience.
We provided these young people with magazines where they could get source images and also invited a professional photographer to teach them about using photos in story telling. After getting the necessary instructions and training, all participants eagerly began the creation process.
On the second day of the event the children presented their stories to each other, as well as to the invited guests, including Carolina Sclifos from UNHCR, and Domnica Ginu, Lumos Moldova Country Director.
We all learned that the most common difficulties that Ukrainian children had once arriving in Moldova were school integration and community integration (i.e. finding and making friends and having difficulties because of language barrier). At the same time, they all expressed their gratitude to the people of Moldova, public authorities and non-governmental organisations for the warm welcome, help and support they got and continue to receive. The young people from Moldova that participated in the event talked about friendships with their peers form Ukraine and how their experience made them be kind to each other to help them adapt to new environment quicker.
On their part, representatives of UNHCR and Lumos assured the young people present that they will continue to provide the necessary support to them and other refugees for a full inclusion and adaptation to the new life circumstances, with both Carolina and Dominica adding:
“We want to know what your needs are, what help is necessary so that we know how to better support you”.
Dominica also specified that Lumos would continue to provide the necessary support and organise events encouraging the positive integration of Ukrainian refugees — both within the pilot districts in which we operate and in Chisinau.