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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

Safe in Moldova, but longing for home

Lyudmilla, a Ukrainian native, and Tatiana from Moldova are cousins. Their lives were brought together by the war in Ukraine that started in February 2022. Lyudmilla will never forget the devastating reality of war in her country, stating that there was “no water, no light, no work” after the Russian invasion.

Forced to flee her home in Mykolaiv, Lyudmilla and her 7-year-old daughter Irina found refuge in Moldova. Despite the warm welcome they received, she longs to one day return to Ukraine.

In their new home in the Moldovan countryside, Lyudmilla and Irina have made a life for themselves, surrounded by cats, dogs, ducks, and chickens.

Moldova, the poorest country in Europe, is affected by increasing energy prices and inflation. Yet, they have opened their homes to host Ukrainian refugees.

EU humanitarian aid, together with its partner People in Need, supports families like Tatiana’s through cash assistance to help with the cost of hosting refugees.

Lyudmilla and Tatiana standing in the garden.
Cousins Lyudmilla from Ukraine and Tatiana from Moldova now live under the same roof. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine forced Lyudmilla and her 7-year-old daughter Irina to flee their home in Mykolaiv.
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Begüm Iman)
Photo of an orange and black coloured cat.
Guests receive a warm welcome from the 4-legged residents of the household. This green-eyed mouser is one of the 5 cats who share the house with Tatiana, Lyudmilla, and Irina.
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Begüm Iman)
Lyudmilla sitting in the kitchen.
Thinking back to the beginning of Russia’s invasion, Lyudmilla reveals: “I have never experienced this kind of pain.” Yet, Lyudmila admits that she has never loved life more, as the war helped her to appreciate what she once took for granted.
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Begüm Iman)
Aid worker standing next to a stack of firewood.
When asked about the worrying energy situation during the winter months, Tatiana points to a stack of firewood in her backyard and reminds us that the local population is resilient: “We went through the 90’s; we can handle it.”
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Hanna-Kaisa Lepik)
Tatiana sitting next to a wood burner.
The war in Ukraine has impacted Moldova, particularly due to Russian attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure causing widespread power outages in Moldova. “We’ve got enough wood to last us through the year,” says Tatiana as she lights up the fireplace.
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Begüm Iman)
A wooden carriage next to a road.
Lyudmilla and her daughter Irina have found a new home in Moldova's Gagauzia region, where Irina can continue her education. She also stays connected to her Ukrainian roots through online studies at a school back home.
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Begüm Iman)
A flock of chickens next to the house.
Those living in the countryside tend to be more self-reliant. Tatiana, for instance, has a flock of chickens that provide eggs for her entire household.
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Begüm Iman)
View of the house and garden, Tatiana looking towards the end of the garden.
Many Moldovan households have opened their homes to Ukrainian refugees. Together with our humanitarian partner People in Need, we are supporting households like Tatiana’s with cash assistance.
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Begüm Iman)

Story by Hanna-Kaisa Lepik, EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations.
Publication date: 31/01/2023