Solidarity For Ukraine: Women of Courage – The Portraits


Since the start of the conflict, more than 12 million people have fled their homes in Ukraine. According to UN figures, 6.5 million are believed to be displaced within the country itself, whereas over 5.7 million have left for neighbouring countries. Romania has taken in the 2nd highest number of refugees, and at the time of writing – May 2022 – over 854,292 people had crossed the border here.

The FARA Foundation has been an established presence in Romania for over 30 years, and so was well placed to quickly provide support to those fleeing Ukraine. We were able to house women and children in our centres in Suceava County, as well as provide necessities such as food, medicine and clothing.

It was on a visit to one of our centres to document the work FARA is doing, that volunteer Photographer Cătălina Urse was moved to write an article about the women refugees she met there. (You can read her powerful words here)  Cătălina’s accompanying series of portraits ‘Women of Courage‘ highlights the strength, resilience and optimism of these remarkable Ukrainian families.

These are their stories:


“We came from Kremeniuk, it’s a small town in the center of Ukraine. At this moment it is quiet there, it is not bombing, but the alarm sounds in the city and the alert is always on the phone. All day. You can’t get rid of the alert on the phone. The kids were hearing it, they were scared. There’s a gas station right next to our house, and we were afraid it would be bombed and explode. I only came here with my youngest son, but I still have a 20-year-old daughter, she is in Poland and my husband went abroad to work when the war started… I can’t talk about the war without crying. I’ve been crying all morning this morning. Many cities in Ukraine have already been destroyed. The dead are buried in mass graves, children, women are just lying dead on the roads. I have a question why?? Why are they killing Ukraine? We haven’t done anything wrong to anyone!” – Olga


“At the moment I feel safe here, at FARA, but I still miss home.
The most difficult thing about my coming to Romania is the fact that I had to say goodbye to my father. Since then, I’ve been terrified every day at the thought of never seeing him again. I’m trying to keep hope alive. I hope that the war will end soon and see him again, to embrace my father, friends and grandparents who are left behind.
My message to other Ukrainians like me is not to lose hope! Someday, we’ll be back home. ” –Maria, 16


”When my children and I were safe, my thoughts turned to Mariupol, Bucha and Kharkiv. I wake up with feelings of guilt and shame, thinking of all those people who stayed to fight and volunteer. After our evacuation, my thoughts were occupied with shock, fatigue and fear. A little later I felt worry, hatred. Watching the genocide of your country from afar is terrible.
For other Ukranians who have left, it is important to remember the children, because it is also difficult for them to adapt to new conditions. We need to support each other and remember that there are always a lot of people who are ready to help” – Olha


“I’m tired of the ordeal going on in my country! I want to go home! I want a good future, I want all countries to live in peace and people to be happy.
Leaving my homeland was the hardest thing I could do, but the wars were over. Then we will return home, rebuild cities and rebuild everything they have destroyed.
For those like me, those far from home, I want to urge them to hope. We’ll be home soon. We will see our families again soon. ” –Valeria, 12


‘’What do I feel in this moment? Emptiness, pain, horror, uncertainty. All I really want is to return to Ukraine, but life will never be the same again. Every Ukrainian has his own pain in his soul. But I believe in the victory of our country – I want to return home and financially help to restore Ukraine.
I miss my family and friends very much, although we were very warmly welcomed in Romania. With FARA we felt safe. Ukraine is a strong country, one day we will return home and live an even better life than before. We must be patient, and those of us who have a place to return must go back when we are able, so we can start work on rebuilding our great country, Ukraine.” – Olena


All photos: Cătălina Urse


Some of Cătălina’s work from her visit to the Ukraine/Romania border in Siret.