After fleeing war in Ukraine, Anastasia finds peace and purpose in Bulgaria
Anastasia her daughter have found peace in Bulgaria, and are also helping other Ukrainians overcome the trauma of war
After being forced to flee the war in Ukraine, Anastasia has a new life motto.
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are,” she says, firmly.
Anastasia, who is featured in a UNICEF documentary about Ukrainian families finding refuge in Bulgaria, is doing exactly that by rebuilding her life and helping displaced families overcome the trauma of war.
“Strong,” she tells the children she works with. “We’re all strong here.”
Anastasia works in a Blue Dot – a safe space offering support and services to children and families who have fled war in Ukraine – in Varna, north-eastern Bulgaria. There are currently 25 Blue Dots in refugee-hosting countries, each 3,000-5,000 people per day.
“Everything is okay,” says Anastasia, comforting a grandmother. “No need to cry. The boy hasn’t got his mum, but he’s got a grandma.”
“Nastya, thank you,” the elderly woman replies through her tears. “You are great.”
After fleeing bombing in their hometown, Bulgaria has become a sanctuary for Anastasia, her daughter Zlata, and her mother Lyubov.
“The windows were shattered,” recalls Anastasia. “And we heard: Boom! Crash! Zlata was completely undone and shaking. I tried to calm her down. I acted not as a volunteer, but as a mum.”
A year and a half of war in Ukraine has wreaked havoc on the lives of families and children. Millions have lost their homes, loved ones and livelihoods, while scores more have sought safety abroad, with around 150,000 people – including 50,000 children – having received temporary protection in Bulgaria alone.
Today, Anastasia is focused on rebuilding a life for herself, her daughter and her mother, and helping others to find hope.
“When we arrived in Bulgaria, my mum and I noticed that children walk around Varna with their parents arm-in-arm,” notes Anastasia. “They hug, they kiss, the children are kind hearted! We made the right choice coming here to Bulgaria.”