Refugee sisters embrace life in Romania
Every year on 25 September is the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, a day where we are reminded to envision and action a more just and inclusive society.
To build a more inclusive future, we must stand in solidarity with migrants and refugees and recognise their unique gifts and skills.
As the war in Ukraine continues, our partner Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Europe, with your support, is providing emergency assistance and opportunity to Ukrainian refugees as they cross the border.
This year JRS Europe has supported over 50,000 Ukrainian refugees in the first six months by mobilising support from offices across Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Macedonia, south east Europe as well as within Ukraine.
Ukrainian refugee sisters Svetlana and Irina fled their homes near Odessa when war broke out in Ukraine and crossed into Romania with their children.
“At first (in Ukraine) the sirens were used for training…we really didn’t pay much attention. Then they told us that the situation was becoming serious…Then the tanks arrived and took position.” – Irina
Despite the initial challenges of arriving into a new country, where they didn’t know the language, with the support of JRS Romania, now these sisters are beginning to settle into their new life.
Their skills as previous educators in Ukraine was recognised by a JRS Romania volunteer, who invited them to work as teachers for Ukrainian children.
Now they are hired by JRS Romania to keep Ukrainian children engaged with learning and recreational activities.
“It is as if we are at home, we get up in the morning and we have to go to work. It is as if we have stability,” said Irina.
Prior to the war, Svetlana had never been outside of Ukraine before, making it even more difficult to leave her homeland.
“We started hearing in the news that children were dying and we made the decision to leave to save our children,” said Svetlana.
The Jesuits in Europe are ensuring that refugees are treated with dignity and they are going above and beyond in delivering both immediate and long term support for those in desperate need.
Thanks to a partnership between Jesuit Mission Australia, the Xavier Network and JRS Europe, thousands of refugees fleeing Ukraine have received emergency shelter, food and essential items, psychosocial support, medical escorts, translation and accompaniment.
“Everyone is welcoming us. Not once during this time have I felt or seen anything negative…even in the supermarket strangers want to help,” said Irina.
Click here to watch their story.
Let us join together in the Prayer to be Ever Inclusive written by Fr Michael Hansen SJ, National Director of the First Spiritual Exercises Program.