Finding ways to assist Ukraine war refugees

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For Xoomworks colleagues in Romania and Bulgaria, the war in Ukraine falls close to home. Here’s the story of just one of the Xoomworks team members who has found a useful way to lend help to Ukrainian refugees.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, as of April 26, 2022, 5.3 million refugees have been forced to leave Ukraine since the Russian invasion in late February. People across the world have been watching in horror as the tragedy unfolds. 

Alongside the horror and despair, there are stories of hope and humanity. People are stepping up to help refugees in any way that they can – with offers of food and shelter, donations, translation support and more. The Xoomworks team is no exception. 

Vladicia Bulhac, HR Generalist at Xoomworks, is just one of the team who has found a way to help the people displaced in the war.  

Vladicia was born in Moldova, where her family still live, just a few hours’ drive from the Ukrainian border. She spent time in Ukraine with her family as a child and spent time there just last year. So, for Vladicia, what was going on in Ukraine felt very close to home.   

“When the invasion started in February, it was so hard knowing that my family was so close to the border. After two days of watching the news and witnessing the horror of what was going on, I knew that I wanted to do something to help. When I saw a Facebook post asking for people who speak Russian and Ukrainian to help with translation at the Romania/Ukraine border, I knew what I was going to do”, said Vladicia.  

In the first week of March, Vladicia joined a group of volunteers to travel 4 hours from their hometown of Cluj to the Romania/Ukraine border. Many humanitarian organisations and charities such as Save the Children and UNICEF were at the border trying to help the refugees. Without speaking Russian or Ukrainian, it was proving extremely difficult to communicate with the refugees - many of whom didn’t speak English. That’s where Vladicia and the rest of the volunteer translators came in – acting as interpreters between the refugees and the charity officials.  

Vladicia arrived at the border a week after the invasion began. In those very early days, 2,000 to 3,000 people a day were arriving at the Romania/Ukraine border. They were mainly women with young children who had left Ukraine with nothing apart from the clothes they were wearing. It was devastating to meet women with their children, not knowing when or if they would be able to return to their country - or if there would even be anything left to return to. 

For some fleeing the war, Romania is a transit stop on their way to another country; others hope to stay in Romania and as close as possible to their homeland. Many have no idea where they will go. Vladicia and the rest of the volunteers were helping the refugees with everything from transportation and accommodation to travel rules, restrictions and legal rights. It was chaotic at that stage as no one really knew what was going on, but everyone pulled together as a team and tried to figure things out as they went along.    

After their first trip to the border, Vladicia and the other volunteers from Cluj had planned to return, however, the situation changed quickly, and there was a call for translators more locally to help refugees who were arriving by train in Cluj from the border.  

Since returning from the Romania/Ukraine border, Vladicia has joined other translators at the train station helping refugees as they arrive in Cluj. She has also been volunteering at a local centre where mothers and children can meet and engage in activities – trying to create just some moments of fun and happiness in a desperately bleak situation. 

“Unfortunately, it’s not something I can do every day because you can feel the stress, the sadness, the anxiety when you talk to people from Ukraine. But I will definitely try to help as much as I can for as long as I am needed can”, said Vladicia.  

 

Xoomworks, now part of Accenture, is providing support to the teams in Bulgaria and Romania to help colleagues deal with stress, fear and other negative emotions to help protect their mental health.   We also provide support in other ways like freeing up employee time to volunteer with the refugee effort.