Not too old for a new life
Up until then, Maria, 74, and Vladimir, 84, had led a quiet life in the city of Mykolaiv in Ukraine.
Maria worked all her life on construction sites, and Vladimir was a turner at the boatyard. The couple lived in a house on the outskirts of the city, next to the railway station and the runway of the military airfield.
Everything changed on February 24, 2022, when they were awakened by the rumble of shells hitting the runway and the roar of fighter plane engines. They sought refuge in their basement, where they spent the next three weeks in the darkness and humidity.
In mid-March, they decided to go to their relatives in Moldova. The 370 km trip took more than 12 hours.
After a month with their relatives, Maria and Vladimir moved to the Refugee Accommodation Centre in Ivancea village. In the centre, refugees including Maria and Vladimir receive three meals a day, accommodation, as well as personal hygiene packages, supported by the Humanitarian Coalition through Islamic Relief Canada.
Maria feels much better now and says she cannot sit by idly. She goes to help her relatives with agricultural work, like hoeing corn. Vladimir, on the other hand, has heart problems and uses a cane. They go together to the church in Orhei city, where Vladimir gets a chance to talk with the priest and other people attending the service.
The couple plans to return to Mykolaiv as soon as they can, but for now, they wait. Some of their relatives stayed back in Ukraine to guard their houses and they tell the couple it is not a good time to return yet. “They tell us not to rush back, the city is not safe,” says Maria.
For now, Maria and Vladimir feel safe. They have a roof over their heads, they are provided with the necessities, and most importantly, they have made new friends in the local community.