From Palanca to Bucharest: the refugees' journey in the quest for a better future

Publication date: Jun 09, 2022

In Palanca, on the Moldovan-Ukrainian border, about 30 people get on each bus to Bucharest. These buses bring refugees safely from Ukraine towards a possible better future. "Refugees": this often anonymous group that we find every day in the press, but which, by dint of reading and listening to it, loses all its humanity.

By taking the bus with them, we have the opportunity to talk to each of them, to listen to their stories, to see their looks, sometimes tired, sometimes full of hope. Their stories are all different, but they all have one element in common: the simple desire to continue their lives, to see the war end, to realise their dreams, in peace.

Petro and Ivanna had chosen to leave Kiev to live out their retirement in the sunny Odessa. This retired couple forced to leave their country, are now trying to reach Spain in order to end their days in peace.

We meet the family who found themselves living in a neighbourhood where there was no water or electricity. "Without electricity it was hard, but it was still OK," they tell us, "but as soon as the water was gone, it became very complicated.” In addition to the material damage, the bombings sometimes have much more severe consequences. Their youngest child hadn't been able to sleep for weeks, waking up in panic during the night. This is when the decision to leave their country has taken shape, because their lives couldn’t continue like this. Talking to the other members of the family, we realise that they are just a family like any other. A child who is a Youtuber and a video game enthusiast, the daughter with whom we discover that we like the same music and we know the same bands. The family now heads to Prague, once again, to try to continue their lives, in peace.

Ivan, the sailor from the merchant navy who wants to join his friends in Lithuania. He run to cross the border and avoid being drafted into the army, "because my thing is boats, not guns", he tells us. And Ahmet, a Turk, who is trying to join his sister in Germany to continue studying.

Aurelia, a Russian translator from Odessa, who has decided to stay in Huşi, to help as a translator. She shows us all the pictures she has on her phone of Odessa, its beach, its monuments. She tells us that for her the sky is always bluer in Odessa. Because yes, Petro, Ivanna, Ivan, Ahmet, and all the other people we met, did not leave their country of their own free will. On the contrary, they left sometimes their family, sometimes their job, their friends, sometimes a part of their life, sometimes their entire life.

About 16 hours of travel separate them from a possible new beginning. Yet another journey on top of the fatigue, the worry, the days and weeks spent in dangerous conditions before being able to cross the border. Throughout this journey, the free Wi-Fi connection provided by TSF on the bus helps Petro, Ivanna, Ivan, Ahmet, and all the others to stay in touch with those they have left behind, to find the strength to continue their journey. The connection also allows them to follow the news from their country, and to seek information for the next steps in this journey to a life as new and normal as possible and make this part of their exile a little bit less difficult.

Related mission