Romania has a 600 km border line with Ukraine, and there are mainly 3 points in which, from day one, refugees have arrived, one of which is in Maramures (the North of Cluj). There are a lot of NGOs and administration people at the border trying to welcome them and offer the options they have (to transit toward another city/country or to demand asylum). In the first weeks, almost all of them decide to transit, and therefore, they only needed shelter and food for the time they crossed Romania (either by car, train, or plane) to go abroad, where a lot of them have already gotten some family or friends… but I feel that as long as this continues, poorer and more desperate refugees will come, and they will rather be staying than going elsewhere… so far they preferred countries where the language barriers are not as strong (Moldova – where everybody also speaks Russian, as Ukrainians do, Poland, Lithuania and Czech Republic), but the ones closer to our border who also know a bit of English came here. 

It is very complicated; we are getting ready for the refugees who might decide to come and stay, schools are trying to create classrooms for them, and we are raising educational resources in Ukrainian to try to make their experience easier—but language is a very big barrier as we speak (maybe it will get better in time). I can tell you that it breaks my heart to see Facebook messages of people asking for jobs, any jobs, and saying that they were HR managers, architects, and lawyers . . . and now they want any job possible. We have never faced such a thing in Romania. 

Complicated times we are living, reminding us that we must enjoy any sun rays and any good news and sweet experience we encounter—one never knows when all this can disappear…

Here it is -8 degrees Celsius. I think even the weather is being mean these days since it is even colder in Ukraine.

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Reflections from the 2024 Gala