How motivated should a funder such as HIAS and its partner WRC , as well as the participating organizations be, to pool together resources, logistics, and people to organize an advocacy tour in Washington D.C. and New York, two locations with important decision making institutions and advocacy platforms? Very motivated!

Because it was difficult to organize and costly. Several months of online meetings, consultations, and preparations beforehand. And over 25 bilateral meetings, discussions at the headquarters of important institutions, panel discussions at events in Washington D.C. and New York. The entire series of events shed light for partners and decision makers on how the war in Ukraine continues to affect people*s lives, their future in the region, and in Ukraine. We were able to speak openly about the work, issues, and challenges faced by local organizations in Romania, Poland, and Moldova in providing material and educational support for children, as well as integration support for mothers. Often in the absence of consistent, coherent support from social services or our governments. We also discussed the challenges faced by women-led organizations in Ukraine or organizations addressing LGBTQ+ issues in the context of war, the climate of violence, terror, and the hardships it generates. Although nearly 1 million refugees, mostly mothers and children, elderly people, are still in Poland, 70-100,000 in Romania and the same in Moldova and do not have an easy integration, international attention and support has already shifted to other theaters of war where there are dramatic humanitarian situations.

As the executive director of Heart of a Child Romania, I participated in advocacy events alongside six other extraordinary women from Poland, Republik of Moldova, and Ukraine. Their stories are incredible: from migrant-run restaurants and safe shelters for the most vulnerable to complex social services, support for women and marginalized individuals from across Ukraine, documenting and combating war-related sexual assaults, increasing domestic violence in a climate of terror and violence, and advocating for victims’ support. Four of these women came from Ukraine, from Kyiv and from near the front line. In the two weeks we were together in the US, I got to know all of their work and admired them for their courage, dedication, perseverance, and determination. Meetings at the United Nations during #CSW68 , as well as those with official representatives or donor organizations, certainly provided our interlocutors with food for thought. We uncovered realities that were previously unknown or only suspected. The specificity of the information we were able to provide, drawing from our own work, was invaluable.

War is horrible, wherever it is. And the suffering it inflicts on innocent people, families, is horrifying. My admiration goes to all those who alleviate this suffering. I thank my colleagues for their dedication and creativity in using every resource received to change these lives for the better. (see here and here )

For 2 years, since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, HIAS, through HIAS Romania, has remained our partner. During this difficult period, we have worked with over 20 donors to help over 10,300 refugees. We are grateful to the partners, collaborators, and individual donors who have made our work possible and continue to support it. Not only for refugee families but also for Romanian children and families, work that has continued for 28 years.

That’s why the advocacy tour in Washington D.C. was an opportunity to meet dear old friends of Heart of a Child Romania and Heart of a Child US, but also to meet new people from the US and learn about their work (thank you Roselie Vasquez-Yetter & Luis Gomez Chow – Partners Global ) or the diaspora, people Romania can be proud of and who enrich the diaspora. Thank you for your example, Bogdan Banu !

One of the beautiful and special moments of the visit to the US was also the meeting with the staff of the Embassy of Romania in Washington, D.C . I am grateful to Alina Donciu, Counselor Minister and Head of the Consular Section, Mădălina Florescu, Counselor Minister, and Marius Florescu, Diplomatic Counselor, for their warm welcome and interesting discussions about the embassy’s activities and promoting Romania’s image in the US.

I remain grateful to Mr. Graham Baldock for his constant support throughout the visit to the US.
Heidi Lehman, Halloran Garvey, Rachel Levitan, Noah Gottshalk, Laura Weiss, Kelly Joseph, Zhanna Veyts – HIAS – and Rahel Beigel, Melanie Nezer – Women’s Refugee Commission , few things would have been possible without you!

Jarmila Rybicka – Conflict Kitchen , Natalia Postolachi – CASMED , Hanna Rozhkova – Invisible, Olena Shevchenko – Insight, Iryna Kuratchenko – Vzayemodiya și Iraida Gerashchenko – Successful Women, Ucraina, your work is an inspiration! Love you!

Anna Cristina Burtea
CEO Heart of a Child Foundation

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