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Dozens of Ukrainian refugees joined UNFPA to celebrate #8BillionStrong movement in Moldova this week calling for a better, more united, inclusive, peaceful and resilient world.  A diverse group of hundreds brought a UNFPA-organized flashmob to a square in front of the National Opera and Ballet Theatre turning the number “eight” into the “infinite” symbol,  telling the world that eight billion is a success story and can present infinite opportunities.   

“We cannot believe that the world population is growing so rapidly,” exclaimed Alla from Odesa. “But clearly the development and progress has not been equal, in some countries people are living better and longer lives, and there are others that experience so many challenges,” was Alla’s reflection. 

When asked what the world of 8 billion means for the Ukrainian people and refugee communities, women talked about the war, the changed lives, the renewed values and their aspirations to return and build back a better future for the country. 

“Compared to our childhood, we finally started enjoying financial stability with so many job opportunities and family-friendly support from the government,” said Yuliya from Odesa, a mother of two children who are five and eleven.  “Women and families need this support and quality services.  Especially now in the context of the war, life continues and families continue having children. We believe that when we are back, together we will work hard to ensure that our children continue having these opportunities and investments.”

“We strongly believe that we will all soon return home,” said in unison Anna, Yuliya and Alla. “And when we’re back home, our people are so united now, this cohesion and unity will drive and inspire our people to build back a better and even brighter future for our country and our children!”

Three refugee women are regulars at the UNFPA-supported Safe Space for women, youth and older persons located in Chisinau that offers the refugee and host communities the information about the existing services in the country, as well as support and counseling services.  The Space also serves as an entry point for information and referral to the gender-based violence and sexual and reproductive health specialized services.

“Most of us had a syndrome of paused life. We have not unpacked our suitcases in nine months,” said Anna from Odesa who arrived in Chisinau with her 6-year old son at the start of the war. “The sessions at the Safe Space helped us to build a community and through these social connections and sessions with the psychologist, we soon realized that this ‘pause’ will have a long-term impact on our families and children.  We had to find strength, not lose our hope and learn to live now to have assets to build a better future,” she said.