In the face of unimaginable adversity, Vlada, a 32-year-old courageous woman from Herson, Ukraine, found herself uprooted from her life and forced to leave everything behind to seek safety from the Russian invasion that brought chaos and destruction to her homecity. Previously, a successful manager in a construction company, and later an owner of a successful kids’ shop little did she know about the challenges she was about to face.
Surviving the occupation: In February 2022, Herson was occupied by the russian forces. Vlada, along with her family, endured unimaginable horrors as they were hiding in the underground shelters. With limited supplies of bread and water Vladas’ family stayed trapped in the dark basement of a school for several days. They had to stay silent not to be found by the enemy, who occupied the area around them. With every passing moment, the weight of her situation became heavier.
Amid the darkness and the constant threat, Vlada summoned every ounce of courage within her, determined to survive and find a way to save her family and reunite with her loved ones. Each second felt like an eternity. In this environment she struggled to remain calm and composed.
”The city I called home, where I had built my dreams and cherished memories, was being reduced to rubble before my eyes. I felt the fear, not only for my own safety but also for the lives of my family and fellow citizens”. Vlada Morgun
Escape from Herson: After enduring 42 days of relentless bombing, Vlada’s aunt reached out “We have to leave. It will not end”. Within 30 minutes, Vlada helped her ten-year-old daughter Veronika, and her 82-year-old grandmother with their few belongings, took her cat and started their journey to safety. Routes that normally took half an hour stretched into 10-15 hour journeys, where they had to find their way through fields and closed bridges to avoid being targeted by bombings.
A New Beginning: Escaping Herson marked Vlada’s start towards uncertainty and rebuilding. She sought stability for her family in Romania. After escape and temporary refuge in Constanța, she moved to Galati searching a new place to stay for her and her family.
In Galati, Vlada and her daughter connected with the HELP Ukrainians Association. Engaging in activities like art and dance nurtured them emotionally and provided belonging. Veronika started in the association’s activities, including painting, drawing, and dancing. These activities not only allowed Veronika to express herself creatively but also provided a sense of belonging for both mother and daughter.
”Yes, without a doubt, I am happy today as I participate in the activities at the Help Ukrainians association. I miss home but I’m very afraid to go there, I want to go home when they stop shooting. It’s very calm here, I do what I love, I like to draw, sing, dance, I go to swimming training and I really like every workout. Recently went to a jiu-jitsu training to try and I also really liked it, we work with Romanian children and even without knowing the language we understand each other.” Veronika, Vlada`s daughter
Blooming again: Today in Galati, Veronika is filled with a vibrant and contagious energy as she participates in a multitude of activities at the Help Ukrainians association. Her eyes are sparkling with joy and she participates with excitement and enthusiasm in the various creative pursuits.
”I really miss my friends at home and toys, but it’s calm here and I’m not scared, but at home it was scary, shooting. Here I made friends and many new interests, I go to interesting classes a lot, and when my mother is at work, I go to associations with her and study there in different classes, I really like it.” Veronika Morgun
Today, Vlada is very happy witnessing her daughter’s joy and growth, knowing that she has played a vital role in providing stability and opportunity.
Empowering Through Involvement: Through the collective efforts of the Help Ukrainians association, Vlada found a renewed sense of hope, purpose, and dignity. The turning point came when Vlada volunteered to help organize the association’s Christmas party, a event that marked their first celebration in Romania. It was a heartwarming experience that motivated her to contribute to her newfound community. Shortly after a new project was proposed to her from HELP Ukrainians Association in collaboration with the CSM Dunărea Galati Sport Club.
The active participation of partners such as CORE, HIAS, and JRS is of utmost significance to the mission of Help Ukrainians association, as their dedicated contributions play a vital role in assisting Ukrainian refugees like Vlada to integrate and form a self-sustaining community in Galati.
Rebuilding Lives: Vlada’s journey from temporary accommodation to becoming an integral part of the HELP Ukrainians Association is a testament to her resilience and the transformative power of community involvement. The association’s mission goes beyond aid, empowering individuals like Vlada to regain control and restoring a sense of normalcy amidst challenging circumstances.