• IOM Moldova - Communications and Protection Desks

His mother, Svetlana: “Thanks to IOM Moldova Ivan has a doctor, a medical treatment, and a warm and safe apartment in Chisinau. Where we dream to stage a show”.

(Svetlana asked to protect her identity and that of her son. Their names in this story are fictitious).

Chisinau - Svetlana is a 55-year-old Ukrainian scenic designer who fled Ukraine to protect her son with a psychosocial disability that has been greatly exacerbated by the war. 

“My son, my husband and I left Ukraine at the beginning of the war, March 15. The hardest period. We didn't know what to expect. We were sure that the Russian soldiers would also enter Odesa. But the main reason is because of my son, Ivan. His reactions to the events were difficult to deal with”.

The reaction refers to his psychosocial disability. Ivan attended the university in Odesa where he also worked as a graphic designer, but the first signs of his difficulties in social relationships were already tangible. Svetlana knew of his mental problems, but she tried to do not publicly disclose his conditions to avoid stigmatization and to do not affect his career. Then, war fell upon their lives and that days are still vivid in their memories.

In Odesa, Svetlana, her husband and Ivan lived in a block of flats, on the upper floor, and several times a day they had to run down the stairs to hide in the basement every time they heard an air raid alert. Russian shelling and fear seriously worsened Ivan's psychological condition.

They had to leave Ukraine. They stood in line at Palanca customs for 5 hours. In the early days of war, people waited day and night at the border crossing point to enter Moldova. “It was certainly worth it”, Svetlana says without a doubt.

Once in Moldova, she, her husband and Ivan were assisted and accommodated in a hostel in the city of Balti. The new safe environment had not ease Ivan’s psychological instability. 

“He always asked me where I would go, when I would be back, even if it meant leaving me for a few moments. He was afraid of being alone. After a week, he attempted suicide by jumping out of the window...  He did this because he saw people on the street, and he thought they were soldiers coming to get him. I only lost sight of him for five minutes!”.

After this serious episode, they decided to leave for Cahul, where Svetlana heard about IOM and attended a presentation on Cash Rental Assistance and Protection Support. It is there that she was identified by the Protection Mobile Team who approached Svetlana to gather information on Ivan’s situation and needs, in particular those relating to medical treatment and assistance.

IOM’s response was immediate.
“On the eve of the Christmas holidays we were told by the IOM that a medical institution could take care of my son's case. We were so happy and surprised. Ivan has been examined, he has received medical treatment, and he meets with a psychologist twice a week”, Svetlana said.

IOM Protection Team assessed Svetlana’s vulnerabilities by providing information on services available as well as reassuring her on the assistance she be provided, based on her status in Moldova. Hence, Ivan was referred to the special shelter.

Then, the family decided to move to Chisinau, and they found a place to live in a basement in the center of the city. “It is a small room, but we are all together and it's warm”. She hopes to be able to stage a show with her husband soon, and to enroll Ivan in vocational training courses offered by IOM Livelihood Team. 

“I wish the war would end at soonest, so we could go home, but I don't think anything will change in half a year. That is why we are now thinking if we could also benefit from one of the IOM’s rental support programmes”.

Thanks to the Protection Mobile Team, the case was referred to IOM Airbnb project.

On January 20th, the family entered the new apartment.

SDG 3 - Good Health and Well Being
SDG 5 - Gender Equality
SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities