As a volunteer on the Ukraine border

19-year-old Anna has been a volunteer for CONCORDIA in Moldova since September 2021. Her life changed radically at that time.

The small village of Tudora, where our social centre is located, has less than 2,000 inhabitants. Poverty is high, hardly anyone has work.

And suddenly there was war

"I still remember the day Russia invaded Ukraine. The TV was on all the time, everyone was very worried. Suddenly there was no other topic," says the young Salzburg woman. The very next day, refugees were standing at the border crossing.

"It was frightening how many children were there with their mothers, even very small ones. And it was extremely cold. The traffic jam stretched all the way back to Odessa, 50 kilometres. Then when the border was opened, the situation calmed down a bit."

From then on, the CONCORDIA team in Moldova was running at full speed. Host families were organised for the refugees, clothes and food were provided.  And all this in by far the poorest country in Europe, with rural unemployment rates of over 75% and average incomes of 300 euros a month.

More than 360,000 Ukrainians have fled to Moldova since the war began, yet the country itself has only 2.4 million inhabitants. About half of the population has left the country since Moldova became independent in August 1991. About a quarter of the refugees have now stayed in Moldova, most of them want to wait and hope for a quick return home.

The 19-year-old student is impressed: "The people here are very open towards the refugees. And very helpful. Although they themselves have almost nothing. That's why we also try to provide food and hygiene products to those families who have taken in refugees. So that they don't have to bear all the costs."

Anna's tasks on site in the morning also include looking after the children in the CONCORDIA social centre. "We play together. And the mothers often come too, because there is internet here." They try to get in touch with their husbands who are fighting in the neighbouring country.


"The mood in Tudora is mixed. Especially among the older people, the memory of 1992 is still fresh, they have experienced it all before. They still assume that Russian troops from Transnistria will invade."

These troops are stationed in the breakaway and internationally unrecognised part of Moldova. When Transnistria broke away from Moldova in 1992, there was a civil war that killed around 2,000 people. The border with Transnistria is only 20 kilometres away.

Anna wants to stay

"We were told by the Austrian embassy that there are six warning levels, at the fifth we should get out. At the moment we are at level four," the 19-year-old is prepared. She wants to stay as long as possible. Her internship ends in May. "I'll definitely stay until then. And if it's possible, I'd like to extend."

 

Read about how CONCORDIA supports Ukrainian refugees here.

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