Helping refugees over a longer period of time requires the cooperation of many. A small insight into the wide network of the UMC in Romania.
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, people of the UMC in the countries bordering Ukraine have been supporting refugees who have left their homes. They work together in a network that reaches beyond the borders of their church. Some Facebook entries of the UMC in Romania reflect this in an exemplary way.
A large part of the Methodist work in Romania is done by volunteers. Leah and Dodo are two of those who are involved in many ways: They take care of children in impoverished neighborhoods, cook in the restaurant, receive refugees – or hotel guests. "Thank you, Leah! Thank you, Dodo!" the leaders of the Methodist center "Meeting Point" in Cluj-Napoca wrote in a Facebook post. "You are important for us. We appreciate you!"
Collaboration with local companies is also important. For example, "DIGI Romania," a telecommunications company, provides meals four days a week for the "guests" housed at the "Meeting Point." Meanwhile, even refugees outside the center can be provided with meals in this way.
The refugees often have traumatizing experiences behind them. In order to be able to support them in dealing with these experiences, a Ukrainian psychotherapist has been employed. Olena Koval had herself fled the war in Ukraine. "I was on my way to Turkey to visit my sister and friends," she writes in the "Meeting Point" Facebook post introducing her.
The Methodist center in Cluj-Napoca was only meant to be a "stopover" on her escape. But from various contacts and encounters, a collaboration then emerged. The psychologist had already specialized in trauma therapy. "The methods I use in my work are based on neuroscience and art therapy and include mindfulness practices," she writes. Now she brings her skills to the UMC’s outreach efforts in Romania. She leads group meetings for Ukrainian women and offers individual therapy sessions. She also works with the Methodist teams in the refugee ministry in Romania.
Olena Koval also accompanies the orphans who were brought from an orphanage near Kiev to Sibiu in Romania in a dramatic rescue operation. They obviously feel at home in their new environment. That this is the case is also thanks to those who support this work with their donations and prayers, writes Pastor Cristian Istrate - and thus names another important part of the network. In the meantime, the children have also received Romanian passports.
Olena Koval could be employed for her work. Her employment is financed by donations. The group meetings and therapy sessions can therefore be offered free of charge to the clients and participants.
She calls the fact that her concerns are so largely congruent with those of those responsible in Romania "a perfect match. Here, she says, she can really help with her competencies. "So, let's do what we can and see where the journey takes us!"
Source: Sigmar Friedrich, Zurich