Ukrainian Refugees in Moldova: Rebuilding Lives, Creating Opportunities, and Fostering Integration


It’s been almost two years since the brutal and relentless war unleashed by Russia has devastated Ukraine, during which thousands of refugees have found shelter in the Republic of Moldova, where they have started their lives anew. Some have managed to find employment, while others have had the courage to open their own businesses. Their children attend school and learn side by side with students from the Republic of Moldova. A study conducted by an NGO in Chisinau states that there are now over 110,000 Ukrainian refugees in Moldova.

Liudmila Venher is from Odesa, and she came to the Republic of Moldova once the war started in 2022. Back home, she taught hairdressing for over 10 years. Here, she managed to find a similar job at the Public Association “Island of Hopes,” where she teaches ladies and young girls who want to become hairdressers or beauticians.

LIUDMYLA VENHER, hairdressing teacher: “I wanted to start working, and they offered me a job in my profession. I’ve been working here for two years now. I teach future hairdressers and stylists; we dye hair, give it a certain shape, just like in Ukraine. I already have a circle of friends here. I also attend some dance classes and have many acquaintances.”

OLGA MARCO, manager of professional courses, “Island of Hopes” Organization: “She mostly helps us with the refugee groups. So, she works with her colleagues, teaches courses to refugee hairdressers. She has already conducted more than 10 groups successfully. Since this situation began, we have trained over 500 refugees from Ukraine in professions such as hairdresser, beautician, cook, pastry chef, and manicurist.”

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Galina Garmaj, a refugee from Odesa, was an accountant for 12 years. Once in the Republic of Moldova, she received a grant to start her own business. With the support of the Association of Women Entrepreneurs in Moldova, she created the “SmileKids” center, offering childcare services for refugee families.

GALINA GARMAJ, entrepreneur: “We thought that this center, intended for Russian-speaking people, would be sought after by refugees. Here, we conduct various activities that develop the motor skills, logic, and memory of children. We also have nanny services. We have a speech therapist, a psychologist, and a rehabilitation therapist who takes care of the children. There is the possibility of bringing children with special needs here.”

TATIANA KYSHYNSKA, art therapist: “Our children from Ukraine, in the context of the war, need psychological support. And the little ones receive this psychological support through play. Therefore, art therapy is very useful and beneficial for them. Children come here, draw, mold.”

“My daughter attends this center. She really likes it here, the activities. It’s a friendly atmosphere, and the children like that. When they come here, they start playing; they are already familiar with everything.”

According to a recent study commissioned by the non-governmental organization HIAS Moldova, over 990,000 Ukrainian refugees have passed through the Republic of Moldova, and only over 110,000 have chosen to reside here. Of these, 25% are employed, and 23% are looking for work.

UKRAINIAN REFUGEES IN THE REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA

Entered the Republic of Moldova – 997,092 Ukrainian citizens Remained in the Republic of Moldova – 112,811 Ukrainian citizens Employed – 25% Looking for work – 23%

ANDREI CUR─éRARU, expert in politics, security, justice, and law: “About 80% of the interviewees were women, which is natural, and among the main issues regarding employment in the Republic of Moldova, the possibility of finding a daycare or kindergarten to take care of children, the opportunity to get a job according to skills, and the expectations for diverse salaries were identified as the main challenges faced by refugees.”

The study was conducted on a sample of about 700 people, with a margin of error of +- 4.58%.

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