The story of a dog, a hamster, and the war that never ends
UNICEF helps Alexandra and her mother to have a new start in Romania
“War is not just soldiers, artillery, and military tactics. There is another war inside us, a war that never ends.”
On the 24th of February 2022, the hard journey for hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian families began, the war in Ukraine has started. Seeking refuge from the horrors of war, from fear, fighting for their own lives and the lives of their loved ones, thousands of families crossed the Ukrainian borders for safety.
“Since I was 3 years old, my mother used to take me with her for walks by the sea, and we also used to visit old historic buildings in our city. Odessa is such a beautiful city. One of the things I really miss is my school, my classroom. I was in class number 3B. I had a lot of friends and happy memories in this classroom,” Alexandra,9 years old, shares with us some of her memories from her life before the war.
Alexandra and her mother fled the city of Odessa in Southern Ukraine, with a small bag containing few clothes and a big luggage of mixed feelings of fear from the unknown, and hope for a better future. “We had to flee our home in early June last year, the war escalated to the level that I was not sure when we went to sleep if we would wake up again or not,” Julia, Alexandra’s mother, explains while hiding her tears. “Life under war can’t be described, the feelings of fear and anxiety are beyond translation to words. So, I decided that I will leave Odessa with Alexandra. I was too afraid that something would happen to her as what happened to many families and friends around us who lost loved ones because of the war,” she continues.
Alexandra and her mother Julia were among more than 100,000 Ukrainian refugees who came to Romania and decided to stay here. Alexandra, who turned 9 this year, was born in Odessa, and is currently living with her mother in Galati.
"I was so sad that we had to leave my dog, Baron, with the rest of our family who stayed in Ukraine. I know it was very hard for us to take him with us, but he was such a beautiful dog and friend to me. I really hate this war that took my dog away from me,” explains Alexandra while showing us the photo of her dog.
When Julia and Alexandra crossed the Ukrainian borders into Romania, they were received by UNICEF and partners field teams and were provided the essential support. With the support of UNICEF, thousands of refugee families have received blankets, warm clothes, sanitary kits, toys, hygiene products and baby food. The refugees are also offered free access to psychosocial support, legal and health referrals, information and counseling, referral services for cases of violence, first aid on hygiene, health and nutrition, among many other services.
“After more than one year here in Galati, I feel like my life is normalizing and becoming more stable. I made new friends, I am learning the Romanian language, I started drawing again as I used to do at home in Ukraine. I even got a new friend, Dania the hamster!” Alexandra explains while introducing her hamster to us with excitement. “My dream is to become a dentist, and I am very confident that I can realize this dream,” she concludes.
Julia was listening to her daughter with a look full of love and care, so we asked what she thinks the future holds for both of them. She replied, “Life goes on, you have to continue and think of the future despite all the pain and challenges you encountered. One of the hardest challenges that I continue to face sometimes is when I am trying to explain to people how I feel, to make them understand that war is not just soldiers, artillery, and military tactics. There is another war inside us, a war that never ends. An internal war to accept that some things can’t return to what they were before, to accept new realities and the need to keep moving on to offer my daughter the life she deserves.”