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Moldova: Finding the tune in a new life after fleeing war in Ukraine

Oleksiy is a musician from Ukraine currently hosted as one of around 100,000 refugees in neighbouring Moldova. To cope with the challenges of displacement and trauma from the war in his home country, he finds comfort and hope in music and through his passion for playing bass guitar.  

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

Posted on 15 Sep 2023

Oleksiy*, a 64-year-old Ukrainian citizen, fled from Poltava Oblast in April 2022 and found shelter in the city of Fălești, Moldova - a place that has become a home for over 150 Ukrainian citizens seeking refuge since war broke out in Ukraine on 24 February 2022. For Oleksiy and his wife, Fălești was their chosen destination in Moldova, hoping integration would be easier, not least because Oleksiy's wife is originally from this district and knows Romanian, the local language spoken here. 

Becoming part of the local community 

In his native hometown in Poltava Oblast in Ukraine, Oleksiy was a lead musician in a vocal and instrumental ensemble, with an impressive 42 years of experience, specialising in the bass guitar - an instrument he loves. He took the bass guitar with him among the few things he and his wife managed to bring along when they decided that it was time to leave and too dangerous to stay.  

Now, he plays the bass guitar at the Fălești Cultural Centre the vocal-instrumental ensemble from there, and is part of various local events organised by the City Hall. It helps him find direction and cope with the challenges of life as a refugee, he tells, as he finds comfort and motivation in music. 

New livelihoods 

Being a lover of both folk and rock music, Oleksiy knows that being a musician requires a refined ear and the ability to work harmoniously with a team of musicians. Although he seeks more stable employment during these months of displacement in Moldova, he is eager to receive advice on how to actively and successfully engage in job seeking while teaming up with like-minded people who share common ideas and skills. Ideally, he would like to use his skills as a musician to make an income that can help him and his wife to better manage their expenses in Moldova.  

Back in Poltava they both used to work - his wife was a lab technician there, and Oleksiy was employed at the House of Culture as a musician. Their apartment is in the city and an area that since long has been known as one of Ukraine’s industrial areas and a developed economic centre, hosting an oil processing factory as well in nearby Criminciuk. Oleksiy and his wife try to get as much news and updates as possible about the situation back home. They have been told that their apartment is still intact and has not been affected by bombings until now. 

Inclusive support to refugees and their hosts 

Oleksiy's journey reflects the struggles that many other refugees face when it comes to finding stable employment and rebuilding their lives in a new country.  

He was part of one of the sessions facilitated by DRC to create awareness and understanding of the Temporary Protection scheme in Moldova.  

DRC is offering legal aid sessions across key locations in Moldova for refugees and displaced persons to learn about their rights and obligations in individual consultations and advisory meetings. DRC seeks to provide inclusive, unconditional protection and support to vulnerable and at-risk refugees and host community members through a range of participatory legal and protection-focused activities. 

A home in Fălești and a band in Poltava 

Back in Fălești, Oleksiy remains determined to establish a new life and continue to settle in among the local population. He believes that music will help him unlock the new connections to bring him closer to the community that he and his wife are now slowly becoming a part of.   

“My passion for music and commitment to contributing to the community give me and my family hope for a brighter future,” says Oleksiy.  

Even though Oleksiy is slowly becoming part of the local life and living in Fălești, he still dreams of the day he can return to visit his home in Ukraine – even reuniting with his band and play for the friends and audiences he knows and misses each day away from them. But returning to Ukraine will be tougher in many ways, also financially, and starting anew would be difficult. 

Looking back, Oleksiy feels that he has had a challenging time integrating into Moldova, but he has decided that it is better for them to stay on. He and his wife see their future here and hope that they will manage to integrate even more. Now, he is happy because he can continue his life and his profession peacefully. Next step is to find a full-time job in the field of music. 

*Name changed to protect the identity of the interviewee  

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