Ukrainian children play outside their home at ICC Romania
Your support of the ICC Romania project has made it possible for Ukrainian refugees to find a place of peace and safety during the war that rages in their country. The following is a report from Gabriela Costache, ICC Romania Administrator:

It’s been five years since the children’s village in Odobesti closed its gates. The last remaining girls, now young ladies, are in high school or college. They regularly come back to the campus to meet their family (the ICC family). Here the children’s village supervisor, Simona, being alone, gladly welcomes them. They bring their friends, husbands, and children, and they meet for birthdays. They are happy to walk down the memory lane of their childhood.

Since the war started in Ukraine, an idea blossomed in our minds — the ICC Romania’s team and in a phone call with ICC headquarters. I was asked if we can do something for the refugees without a house and without hope. We decided together to do whatever we can to help. We started praying and discussing with colleagues and acquaintances, and ever since the miracles started pouring. 

The first house refurbished for the Ukrainian refugees.

My colleagues from the hospital where I work, after finding out about my wish to get involved in this project, were eager to help and get involved as well. After only one week, we had the money necessary to go paint and renovate the first children’s house which had been uninhabited for over five years. Those that couldn’t participate donated money, clothes, or anything needed. A colleague who had no money was happy to get involved in raising the money through donations.

Your friendly neighborhood refurb crew
Your friendly neighborhood Romanian restoration crew

When the day came to go and renovate the house, we had everything we needed. On the 6th of March 2022, together with a team of 13 volunteers, we left with two vans. All the colleagues were extremely excited and happy. However, we had challenges. On the way there a truck in front of us hit a branch. It broke the windshield of one of our vans. Later that day, I fell and broke my hand.

In two days, the house was repaired and equipped with a new refrigerator, curtains, and clothes and toys that we had received for the children. The first house was ready to welcome guests.

The living room of the refurbished home at ICC Romania
The living room of the refurbished home at ICC Romania

But the real challenge was only just starting because the ICC Village is very far from the border with Ukraine. Most refugees want to stay close to the border hoping the war will end soon so they can go back to their homes. We started praying to God so that we could help.

Shortly after, I saw a Facebook post from a friend who was volunteering at the border. He was asking if anyone could help or receive a mother with eight children and was also pregnant with the ninth. They wanted to stay in Romania for the long term as their region in Ukraine had been bombed and destroyed, and she didn’t think she could get back there anytime soon.

I contacted him immediately letting him know we had a house for them with everything they need, and we could tend to them in the long term.

He answered that he was sure they would be very happy here and that he would talk to the ADRA Director. After two days he let me know that they decided to come. A friend lent us a van to pick them up from the border, and the colleague’s husband drove it. So, after a long, 300 km (186 miles) journey the family arrived in Odobesti. The children were very happy to get to a safe place, and we were very happy that God answered our prayers.

They settled in and felt happy there. In the meantime, the mother gave birth to another girl, and the grandmother came from Ukraine as well.

The girls love Rebeca and Sami  — Simona’s daughter and son-in-law. Every time they come home, they spend time with the girls and play volleyball, and tennis, and go for walks. 

One day, on a Friday, it was the birthday of one of the girls. She was disappointed the entire day because she had not received a gift and cake. Simona was busy during the day but when she went to buy groceries, she bought her a cake and a gift too. Simona went to them in the evening when the girls were playing in the living room. Simona went in through the back door and turned off the lights. When the little girl turned around to look, she saw the cake with the candles. The girl started crying. She had waited the entire day to have a cake for her birthday. She was very happy.

In the meantime, we continued raising funds for the next two houses for the repairs and new curtains. Again, we formed a team and worked happily. In the end, the houses looked like real homes. We went with the team a third time for the third house.

One day a woman working at a foundation in Bucharest called to ask if we could receive 14 refugees — parents, grandparents, children — for up to two months. They’ve been hosted in a summer camp, but during the summer they couldn’t stay there any longer. They needed a place to stay for the summer. In the contract with the foundation, they also provided a daily food allowance. God’s grace was incredible.

The 14 Ukrainian refugees arrived and were very excited and happy with the conditions they found here. In the summer camp, they lived with lots of people in one common space. They lacked the comfort and intimacy they found in our homes. Even more, the money they received from the foundation for food was to receive food from a local restaurant. But here, as they had all the conditions to cook for themselves, they go and purchase groceries with Simona in the nearest town. They buy everything they need, cook for themselves, and with the rest of the money saved they can take turns and buy shoes and other things they need. They are very happy. Simona asks them every now and then if they want to receive food from a restaurant, but they always say it’s better this way.

They are hardworking people, clean, and extremely grateful. They are very happy when Simona visits them and tastes the food they prepared.

They are supposed to stay until the 20th of August according to the contract, but part of them already asked if they could stay longer. They don’t want to go back. Simona told them she would talk to the board, and after deliberation, we told them they could stay. When they found out one of the grandmothers was so happy, that she started crying. She was so grateful.

We are very happy to see God’s work. We still have spaces, but they need more significant repairs. The war continues, and the sympathy for the refugees fades away. In Europe, they’re not welcome anymore, so lots of them come back. We don’t know what will happen, but we know that in the right time God will help us gather the necessary resources and at the same time lead us to the people in need.