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Lyudmila’s family had to flee Odessa in summer 2022. Thanks to our partners in Moldova, they are now finding a place in their adopted home.

Our Building Resilience in Vulnerable Communities programme began in Moldova in September 2021. One of its main aims was to help children from low-income families struggling with limited parental care. With so many working age adults working abroad, a high percentage of Moldovan children live without either one or both parents. This absence can seriously affect children’s development and education. In the spring of 2022, the war in Ukraine forced many families to leave that country and seek safety elsewhere. Our partners at Beginning of Life (BoL) in Moldova, soon found themselves having to adapt their programmes to support these newcomers, many of whom had been displaced without time to make plans. BoL’s Urban Kids programme was quickly expanded to meet the needs of Ukrainians, and there are up to twenty refugee families in the programme at any one moment. One Ukrainian mother, Lyudmila, tells her family’s story below.

Dozens of Ukrainian families are benefitting from Beginning of Life’s “Urban Kids” programme

My name is Lyudmila Polishchuk. I joined the Urban Kids programme in October 2022 with my son Mark, who is 1½ years old. Three years ago, I got married to a Moldovan man, and we lived in Odessa, where I was born and had lived all my life, and where our son Mark was born. Due to the war, we had to leave our home in Ukraine, and move to safety in Moldova in the summer of 2022. When we arrived in Moldova, we faced many challenges in all aspects of life. In time, my husband found a job, but I stayed at home with our child. We both missed family and friends. When we came to the Early Years centre in October, I was thrilled and open to learning new things that would help me in raising my child. For Mark, it provided an opportunity to calm down, socialise and adapt to a new place.

Mark was still very sensitive to loud sounds even after half a year out of the war zone. Back home in Ukraine, we had to hide whenever there were sudden loud noises. So, I tried to explain to him in simple language what was happening when there were loud sounds, while also trying to calm him down and make him feel safe. Coming to Urban Kids, I found a place where my anxieties and fear disappeared, and I could focus on nurturing and educating my child, as well as myself. I found answers to my pressing questions during the lessons and shared the information about child upbringing at this age with my husband.

I am very grateful for the opportunity to connect with other women at the centre because I was used to having my sister by my side throughout my life, and I miss her dearly as she is far away now. I continue to work on building my self-esteem, which was quite low when I first arrived in October, but now it is becoming more balanced and adequate. I make sure to attend all the lessons without any absences. Mark has become more comfortable in the company of people and has started establishing temporary connections with other children for playtime. I have seen significant change in myself as well as in Mark. Even my husband has noticed that. We are so grateful for this support and amazing place of growth.