Editor’s Note: On February 26, 2022, world attention focused on Russia as it invaded its
neighbor, Ukraine. Women, children, and the elderly fled from the advancing army as able-bodied men were called into military service to help protect their country. Following is an edited excerpt from Simona, ICC Romania’s village administrator, who tells of the experience the ICC family had with Ukrainian refugees.
Never would we have thought it possible to have war so close to Romania’s border. This was a good reason for the Romanian people to show their compassion and good organization from the border to the heart of the country where special places were prepared for Ukrainian refugees. People were met at the border by organisations, churches and individuals who offered hot drinks, food, beds, transport, all free of charge and who led the refugees to safe shelters, private homes, schools, churches that opened their doors for this purpose. This is how the ICC family came up with the desire to make available the social houses that were empty since the last children left for high school and university in Bucharest in 2017.
Once the idea was born, volunteers prepared the accommodations, and on March 14, a pregnant mother with 7 other children arrived at our children’s village campus. They arrived at night, after 9 pm from a city about 300 miles (500 km) away. They feared the unknown future that awaited them.
Stressful and difficult days followed because communication could only be done with the help of translation applications on the internet. They only spoke Ukrainian. The adjustment was also difficult for them, coming from a different culture and in a foreign country without being able to communicate easily.
Days, weeks, and months followed in which we learned how to help them, how to register the children in school, and how to apply for documents and residence permits in Romania. For the children everything was easier. They were happy when they could go to school, and they were happy when they received the care they needed from the ICC family and the government authorities who got involved. But the adults found it difficult to integrate and accept their status as refugees and assisted persons.
On June 20, fourteen more people arrived, and we were able to accommodate them as well. Some of the refugees stayed for a year and a half. They felt this place was home and left with tears in their eyes. We made friends with these people. They trusted us. We solved their problems of any kind. We shared with them fruit from the yard and vegetables from the garden. We were a family with them. We had a beautiful, productive time which helped us, too. Most of all, we saw their satisfaction and trust in the ICC family, which did not let them lack food, clothing, medicine, and other things they needed.
The last refugees left the ICC campus on September 27. We thank God for this opportunity and thank those who have been involved in supporting the refugee project.