Crossing borders for a safe haven: Sasha's experience in Galati
Overcoming language barriers, navigating medical care, and finding community, the Blue Dot Hub in Galati offered Sasha and her children not only practical assistance but also emotional healing.
In the middle of October 2022, Sasha, a 24-year-old Ukrainian refugee, arrived in Romania with her son Fedor, 1-year-old. They left behind their home in Zaporozhye and embarked on a new chapter in their lives, seeking safety and support in a foreign land.
In the beginning, Sasha considered settling in Bulgaria, but in the end, she settled in Galati, seeking a safe place closer to the border of Ukraine. In Galati, she discovered the Blue Dot Hub, where essential services and support are provided to Ukrainian refugees.
„I found out about the Blue Dot from our landlord. He told us that this place is providing us with different services and support, and we decided to come and register ourselves here. It was the best decision for my family,” says Sasha.
One of her priorities was finding a doctor, as she was pregnant when she arrived in Romania. She sought help at the Blue Dot and found a doctor who provided her with the necessary care and guidance throughout her pregnancy.
The language barrier proved to be one of the biggest challenges for Sasha and her family. However, the professional workers from the Blue Dot center were by her side, acting as translators and helping Sasha to navigate through various bureaucratic processes.
When the time came for Sasha to give birth, she kept in touch with the Blue Dot workers over the phone, who provided constant support throughout the process.
“I was about to give birth, so I called the professionals at the Blue Dot and asked for their support. They helped me translate certain things and solve all the issues with the documents. I didn’t have any translators in the hospital, so I had to use gestures to communicate, and I have been on the phone with the workers from the Blue Dot who translated everything for me”, recalls Sasha.
At the Blue Dot in Galati, Sasha received from UNICEF essential supplies for her children, including diapers, warm winter clothes and some toys. The Blue Dot also provided medical counseling, helping Sasha with useful information regarding the vaccination for both of her children, Fedir and Platon, ensuring their health and well-being.
“I am also registered with a family doctor, and he helped us with the vaccination calendar for my children,” says Sasha.
Moreover, the Blue Dot offers a Child-Friendly Space supported by UNICEF, where the mothers could leave their children to play, while they register themselves for different services. Sasha’s older son, Fedir, who is now almost two years old, enjoys that space because he can engage in different creative activities, and make new friends.
“Every time we come here, he loves to go to the children’s corner to draw and play with others,” says Sasha.
As the days passed, Sasha and her children found a sense of belonging and comfort in the care and support they received at the Blue Dot Hub. The support they received not only met their practical needs but also provided them with a safe space to heal emotionally from the traumas of their journey.
“We want to return home, but the situation is complicated there, so we are still waiting here, where it is safe. I want to register Fedir at the kindergarten in Galati. This way, he will learn Romanian easier. He already learned some words from our neighbors. Sometimes they talk to him, and he shakes his head in an approval way, like he is understanding them. So, I am watching their interaction and I wonder what they talk about,” recalls Sasha.
Sasha is filled with gratitude for the help they have received in Romania. She knows that no matter what may lie ahead, the support they have received at the Blue Dot has given her children a chance for a better life, full of hope and opportunities.
Blue Dots were established in partnership with local authorities and partners including UNHCR, as part of the partnership between UNICEF and UNHCR to provide frontline support to Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine. UNICEF provides a safe space and vital integrated services especially for the most immediate needs of children and women including spaces dedicated to mothers and babies/ young children psychological therapy, information and counseling, referral services for cases of violence or health conditions. Other essential services such as first aid on hygiene, health and nutrition, family reunification and restoring family links, registration of the most vulnerable, clothes, sanitary kits, toys, hygiene products and baby food are provided.