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A Story of Friendship During War

Children's Voices

A Story of Friendship During War

Varea*, Danea* and Vanessa* share their inspiring story of how friendship and Lumos's support helped them through one of the biggest challenges in their life - the invasion of Ukraine.

In March 2022, Vanessa (15) left her house and country with her mother to escape the Ukraine war, leaving behind her father and brother. For her, the planned two weeks to live far away from the war transformed into two years. Although Moldova was not on her bucket list of “Dream Countries” to visit, it soon became her home. 

Both Varea (16) and Danea (16) attempted to live in different countries with more opportunities, however, after changing several places and houses, they decided to live in Moldova. 

“Because Moldova has a lot in common with Ukraine, has many similar products (even a lot are from our country), we can understand the language and people treated us so warmly, we decide that this is the best place to stay, until the situation at home becomes better and the war is finished.”
Varea, Danea and Vanessa putting their hands together to make a circle.

As part of Lumos's emergency aid response, the girls and their families all received packages with food and hygiene products, as well as school supplies and clothing. Importantly, the children were given the opportunity to choose the clothes they wanted to buy. 

“It was so nice that I could choose what clothes to buy for myself from a store, rather than handed a package" - Varea.

At the same time, support was provided, such as the documentation they needed and procedures to follow as refugees in Moldova. The children and their parents were informed on the national legislation changes, the existing support for refugees, their rights and responsibilities, and the existing networks to join.

Once in Moldova, the three girls met each other. Boredom, the desire to meet new people and to get away from computer screens motivated the girls to go out after they finished their online classes. Step by step, they built their friendship, taking long walks together almost every day.

The three friends also attended some activities organised in the Child-Friendly Space which, a newly created service by Lumos and authorities to help refugee children integrate. They participated in the workshops, as well as “Speak UP”, Lumos Youth Forum. These events gave them the opportunity to meet peers from Ukraine who live in different regions in Moldova, as well as learn about advocacy, civil activism and participation. They were also able to meet policymakers and people who motivated them to overcome different barriers they will meet in life.

Psychological support was also given to the three girls, who had gone through difficult moments and trauma due to the war: leaving their homes and friends, moving to a different country, adjusting to a new culture and people - all whilst coping with day-to-day issues teenagers may face and struggle with.

The three refugee girls in a park sitting side by side

Although the three girls still miss their homes in Ukraine deeply, they now have a lot of friends from Moldova, and they love spending time together. During these two years they learned good lessons, even when sometimes they were “very painful”. They learned “how to better choose friends and people to share secrets with”, “How to be more open to others and not feel alone”, and “How to truly value each moment and experience because nothing repeats”. This friendship helped them to integrate better, overcome difficult situation, meet new and interesting people, and to overcome the feeling of loneliness they had. 

“I saw that we can live quite a normal life even in another country, especially when we have enough support and our closest ones with us” - Danea.

Discover more about our work in Ukraine here: