TSF staff helps a refugee rom Ukraine in a bus
Over 5 million refugees from Ukraine have already been recorded across Europe. Thousands of them have been using the bus convoy set up by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to safely bring refugees from Palanca, on the Moldovan-Ukrainian border, to Bucharest, Romania.
By taking the bus with them, we have the opportunity to talk to each of them, to listen to their stories, to see their looks, sometimes tired, sometimes full of hope. Their stories are all different, but they all have one element in common: the simple desire to continue their lives, to see the war end, to realise their dreams, in peace.
Petro and Ivanna (all the names in the report have been changed to protect their identity) had chosen to leave Kiev to live out their retirement in the sunny Odessa. This retired couple forced to leave their country, are now trying to reach Spain in order to end their days in peace.
We meet the family who found themselves living in a neighbourhood where there was no water or electricity. "Without electricity it was hard, but it was still OK," they tell us, "but as soon as the water was gone, it became very complicated.” In addition to the material damage, the bombings sometimes have much more severe consequences. Their youngest child hadn't been able to sleep for weeks, waking up in panic during the night. This is when the decision to leave their country has taken shape, because their lives couldn’t continue like this. Talking to the other members of the family, we realise that they are just a family like any other. A child who is a Youtuber and a video game enthusiast, the daughter with whom we discover that we like the same music and we know the same bands. The family now heads to Prague, once again, to try to continue their lives, in peace.
Ivan, the sailor from the merchant navy who wants to join his friends in Lithuania. He run to cross the border and avoid being drafted into the army, "because my thing is boats, not guns", he tells us. Ahmet, a Turk, who is trying to join his sister in Germany to continue studying. Aurelia, a Russian translator from Odessa, who has decided to stay in Husi, to help as a translator. She shows us all the pictures she has on her phone of Odessa, its beach, its monuments. She tells us that for her the sky is always bluer in Odessa.
About 16 hours of travel separate them from a possible new beginning. Yet another journey on top of the fatigue, the worry, the days and weeks spent in dangerous conditions before being able to cross the border. Throughout this journey, the free Wi-Fi connection provided by TSF on the bus helps Petro, Ivanna, Ivan, Ahmet, and all the others to stay in touch with those they have left behind, to find the strength to continue their journey. The connection also allows them to follow the news from their country, and to seek information for the next steps in this journey to a life as new and normal as possible and make this part of their exile a little bit less difficult.
A bus connected by TSF in Palanca (Moldova)