• IOM Moldova - Communications and Livelihood Desks

Kirsova - Victorya arrived in Moldova in March 2022 to protect her two children from Russian bombing in the Ukrainian region of Dnipropetrovsk, where she worked as a lawyer.

“What prompted me to leave Ukraine is to keep my children safe. Because, unfortunately, there is no security anywhere in Ukraine.”

She and her children were assisted and housed in the IOM supported Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Family Violence in the village of Kirsova, Gagauzia region. The first impact of living as a refugee with her children was very hard. For the first 3-4 months she was under stress and didn't know what to do to relieve it. She was traumatized, and she did not see the end, but her children encouraged her to think about tomorrow. "I thought about my passion in drawing and in arts. Starting to draw helped me get out of my stressful state. I then realized that a hobby and my passion could do something meaningful for the Moldovan community and for myself”.

The shock that prompted Victorya to act is linked to a dramatic event while she was in Moldova. In the village Kirsova, a 12-year-old boy committed suicide. She realized that he did not find anywhere to throw out his negative emotions. "He could have been my son. I thought that if that boy had been engaged in extracurricular activities, like painting or drawing, maybe an adult would have noticed his discomfort". As a mother, this event prompted her to take action.

Victorya while preparing her arts sessions. Photo: IOM/Riccardo Severi

Victorya started sharing the idea for organizing arts sessions for children both for Moldovans and refugees at the “Mihail Tanasoglu” Gymnasium, right next to the refugee center that hosts her and her two children, an idea that was immediately welcomed both by the school and by the municipality. The local authorities and the director of the gymnasium were very open to her since they understood the relevance of the purpose of this activity. However, despite the positive attitude of the school and the municipality, the activities could not take off because there was a lack of resources.

It is at this stage that an unexpected opportunity presented itself. The director of the center told her about IOM and the possibility of getting support for this project.

“IOM Moldova Livelihood and Social Cohesion Team came to the refugee center only to hear from me about my proposed arts sessions. Then they asked me to fill in a questionnaire. And here I am with my arts sessions. When someone believes in you and helps you, then you grow your wings”.

Viktorya and her children arrived in Kirsova from the Ukrainian region of Dnipropetrovsk

The arts sessions take place almost weekly and are encountering the great favour of the local community of Kirsova as a special and pleasant opportunity of social interaction between Moldovans and refugees, in particular children. IOM Moldova has been able to offer Victorya technical trainings.

"IOM helped me very much to start because the financial part was a big problem. I was planning only to work with a few children, but after meeting the teacher and finding out about your support came the idea to organize something bigger. Thanks to the IOM support, I was finally able to realize my idea, bringing something new from Ukraine to Moldova for the benefit of Moldovans and refugees".

She started her activities in collaboration with schoolteachers and involving children, Moldovan families, and refugees. It has happened several times that Moldovan families wrote to her: ‘My son has returned home happy, very happy and wants to participate again!’.  She loves to see the feedback of children from their work when they paint their picture and see the result. "They are sincerely happy, and I understand that this is life”.

One of the arts sessions organized by Vyctoria in collaboration with schoolteachers, and involving children, Moldovan families and refugees. Photo: IOM/Riccardo Severi

Among the loyal participants of the art sessions, even the mayor of the municipality of Kirsova, Serghei Sapunji. It is the second time he has attended the arts sessions. "I really like the atmosphere. These kinds of events bring Moldovans and refugees closer, bring us together. We must provide support to those people who are temporarily with us today, we must make them feel like at home. And I'm sure that if we were in a such difficult situation, we too would be welcomed by them in the same way and would receive the same kind of support”. Not just in words. The municipality granted Victorya the classrooms free of charge to develop the artistic sessions. 

"Charging Victorya to use the classrooms was out of the question. We believe that all good deeds that benefit people, especially in these difficult times, should be naturally noble. My family is also affected by this disaster. My mother is from Ukraine, and I have relatives in Ukraine", said the mayor.

The mayor of the municipality of Kirsova, Serghei Sapunji, is a loyal participant of the art sessions. Photo: IOM/Riccardo Severi

Victorya is doing the minimum she can. "When people are drawing, they are speaking from the heart. So, it's very good to connect with people in this way”.

Social cohesion is needed now, more than ever.

“Currently there are already about 250 refugees staying with us who have no intention of leaving because, in my opinion, they are getting everything they need. And this number is growing”, concluded the mayor.

Victorya seems just at the beginning of her new life.

“I know for sure that I will do something big and good. I'm gaining experience, and I will be able to carry out my project and my initiatives anywhere in the world, regardless of where I am. If I can in Ukraine, I will open a center where children and adults affected by war can get help through my art sessions and the love, I put into them”.

SDG 16 - Peace Justice and Strong Institutions
SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
SDG 3 - Good Health and Well Being