Since the beginning of the war, YMCA Romania was present at the border crossing point, providing first-line support and assistance to the refugees and asylum seekers fleeing the war in Ukraine.
Every day, hour by hour, at the Northwest border between Romania and Ukraine, thousands of people, women, children, and the elderly cross the border, fleeing the horrors of war.
The headquarter of the National YMCA and two local associations are located in the North West of Romania, in Baia Mare city and surroundings, 60 km from the Ukrainian border, the checkpoint being SIGHET /Solotvino.
Our mission is more challenging with every week that passes. The war has affected so many lives. There are many young people who are now seeking shelter and a place to call home. The team is responsible for registering, providing them a safe place to rest, ensuring a passage through the country and Europe, and basic psychosocial support for all those in need. Our service, commitment, and dedication are echoed by all those who are now safe and building a new life, away from the nightmare that started a few weeks ago.
When the war started, YMCA Romania team was present at the border crossing to offer a hot meal and refreshments to all the volunteers working on-site, ensuring regular services and assistance to all those coming from Ukraine. “It was tedious work out there, but the volunteers operate with passion and dedication. The volunteers are managing through exceptional circumstances, hearing heartbreaking stories of what is happening across the border.” said Alina Pop, YMCA National General Secretary.
Throughout these realities, YMCA Romania continue to provide support and guidance, especially for mothers and children from Ukraine, offering them a safe place and emotional support.
YMCA staff and volunteers are operating on 3 areas:
- at the border providing first-line support and assistance – in Blue Dot in a Community Consortium together with other NGOs and Authorities
- facilitating YMCA people and friends to safely arrive in Romania and cross further to EU
- providing necessary items in Ukraine and to Ukrainians who are hosted in the region
“At Sighet border (NW Romania) YMCA is working on a Consortium with the Government and other NGOs, as an integrated mechanism was created to provide first line services to Ukrainians who are fleeing from their country: registration, facilitating accommodation in Romania, transportation in Romania and abroad till their final destination, food, legal and asylum procedure assistance.” said Alina.
Staff and volunteers are working on 8 hours shifts covering 24h, everything is put in place to be sustainable for everybody involved. “Usually the YMCA covers the weekend shifts, and when was possible some night shifts as well even if it is hard because in the morning people need to go to work (the majority are working in other employers than YMCA) and because it is very cold (still under zero degrees during the nights).” said Andy, one of the YMCA volunteers.
Beside this, the YMCA volunteers are serving at the collecting centers in the town (donations from Romanians mainly but also from Europe), buying, transporting and delivering goods in Ukraine and in Romanian cities where Ukrainians are hosted, etc.
On March 9th, the first van with goods was delivered to YMCA Karpaty, after crossing the border, with the support of the Red Cross. The goods were collected by the Swedish YMCA and delivered in Romania after a long trip.
We received donation also from YMCA Spain, On Time Service Portugal and other donors.
On March 15th, the team YMCA was at the border serving in the night shift and after that, they crossed in Ukraine to meet their colleagues from YMCA Karpaty to provide the 2nd van with the items they need.
“With the support of YMCA Europe we had a new transport of products for them, the needs change weekly, obviously depending on the reality of the place, the beneficiaries hosted and served at the D-YMCA Center in the Ivano Frankivsk region. What an emotional reunion. On both sides. My colleagues Dan and Vlad started the transfer of goods from one van to another, while my colleagues from the YMCA Karpaty – Olga and Nastya – told me about the concrete situation in their city, about people, about their needs, their despairs , about determination, about hope” said Alina.
“We are very appreciative of all the support and now, more than ever we need to also start thinking about second line services for those who will stay for a longer period in Romania: integration services – development of language, abilities, job offers, emotional support, youth programs, etc. Now we are focused only on the first line, and probably starting April we need to design our intervention for those programs. We need to adapt to our capacity, be realistic and monitor the situation very closely.” said Alina.
Hundreds of people with animals arrive at the border crossing between Romania and Ukraine every day. We welcome the initiative of the YMCA Baia Mare and their partners who have launched a campaign to help people’s best friends. Over 150 kg of food were purchased and transported to various locations in Maramures County.
Together, a small team of dedicated people, are changing the lives of so many others facing the consequences of a horrific war. The acts of kindness and generosity are reflected in the collective support of all the YMCAs around the world. In close collaboration, the two YMCAs from Romania and Ukraine are defying all the challenges, bringing the light of hope to so many.
Our thoughts are with you, peace-makers and true agents of change!