Front line worker Camelia Topala, reports.
The war in Ukraine does not bypass anyone, rich, poor, with college degrees or without. Random strikes leave behind much suffering and many victims.
I met Serioja when he arrived at our tent at Star of Hope Romania.
I asked him where he came from and He told me, Mariupol. “I've been away from my home since March 16th. We had a few hours when we thought it would be safe to cross the border, and we managed to get a few people away. The group before ours left by car and they were all shot. We ran on foot and were able to escape. We have been on the road now for 15 days. I see that I put myself in a difficult situation. It’s very painful to run with two bags, in a pair of flip flops, into the unknown.”
I was listening to him carefully and couldn't believe what I was hearing.
“Since I got away, I haven’t gotten any news about my 4-year-old child, my wife, or my mother-in-law. They were in another location, and I don't know if they got away or... I haven't managed to get in touch with them.” He showed me a picture of his baby boy eating a donut and told me that it was his latest and last picture of him.
He told me more of his story, “I’m an educated man, a medical specialist in emergency and general medicine.” He took out his certificates and diplomas from his luggage to show them to me.
As he showed me pictures of his destroyed apartment, he said, “I have nothing left: no family, house, car, job, or community. I don't know anyone, and I have nowhere to go.”
I looked at him and thought... years of hard work, and thousands of hours of study... yet when he gets to Romania, we can't do anything for him. Even though he was a respected doctor in Ukraine, in Romania he can't practice medicine until he equates his studies. To make it more difficult, he doesn't know the Romanian or English languages. He expressed that he doesn’t want to be a burden on anyone or any government. He wants to work and provide himself with necessities.
We took him, and other refugees, to stay at our Star of Hope Center in Dorohoi. After a couple of days, we took him with us to our border station at Vama Siret and introduced him to the medical teams. He was happy to contribute his skills and work with our volunteer Sasa, who speaks the same language. In his delight, he said to me, "Between treatments and patients, I am in my element again... It almost feels like home."