Finding a safe space within a host community

Irina, a 32-year-old single mother from Chernivtsi, found herself displaced by the ongoing war in Ukraine. Fleeing in Bucharest, Romania, she encountered challenges adjusting to a new life while caring for her daughter. However, amidst the turmoil, Irina discovered and used support services to aid her in rebuilding her life.

Irina, 32, is posing in front of the shelter in Bucharest, Romania
Irina, who is a piano teacher from Ukraine is now rebuilding her life in Romania. @Plan International

“My journey began in May 2022 when I sought refuge in Romania. As a single mother, I faced the daunting task of providing for my daughter while navigating a foreign environment.”


Navigating adversities

During her 2 years in Romania, Irina encountered numerous obstacles. Being a professional pianist she, however, found herself grappling with unfamiliar jobs to ensure her daughter’s education. The language barrier posed a significant challenge, especially during the initial months. Despite her resilience, Irina acknowledged moments of vulnerability, where the weight of her responsibilities felt overwhelming. “My journey began in May 2022 when I sought refuge in Romania. As a single mother, I faced the daunting task of providing for my daughter while navigating a foreign environment,” shares Irina.

Amidst adversity, Irina found support in the services provided by Carusel, particularly the women’s counselling sessions. These sessions offered a safe space for Irina and others like her to address their emotional needs and cope with the stress of displacement. Through tailored integration processes, Carusel facilitated access to mental well-being services, recognising the importance of supporting women in vulnerable situations and strengthening their coping mechanisms.

Irina’s resilience was nurtured through the support she received. As she gradually adapted to her new life, she embraced opportunities such as teaching piano and performing. Her daughter thrived in her new environment, navigating language barriers as she attends a Romanian school and integrating into the community.

A hopeful future

“I found my safe space here.”


”I would like to thank everyone involved for the great help that is being provided to us when it comes to language, job and accommodation and especially sessions that are being organised here for women. This is very important for women like me who are here without any other family members and at times feel overwhelmed. I found my safe space here.” 

Irina’s journey is testament to the transformative power of resilience and support networks in the face of adversity. Through the services offered by Carusel, Irina found the strength to overcome challenges and rebuild her life in a different country that she now considers her home.

Since February 2022, Carusel has been delivering essential services such as safe shelter, basic necessities, and psychosocial support to Ukrainian refugees. Concurrently, it maintains its status as the largest shelter for disadvantaged individuals across Romania. As the war in Ukraine is still ongoing, Plan International and dedicated partners such as Carusel remain steadfast in our commitment to extending support and providing hope to those displaced and in need of refuge. Amidst the turmoil, our services offer tangible assistance for individuals like Irina and a nurturing environment where she and countless others can seek refuge, heal, and rebuild their lives.