Refugee Support Europe arrived in Moldova in March 2022 and, after two weeks of needs assessment, we established the Chisinau Dignity Centre and opened its doors to Ukrainian refugees living in Moldovan households.
The Dignity Centre Chișinău
Each household is given an allocation of points to ‘spend’ in our Dignity Market which is stocked with about 80 lines of food and hygiene products that people have requested.
Everything is bought locally from Moldovan suppliers and displayed in a welcoming and attractive environment. This means that people can choose what they want, get served by caring individuals showing solidarity with their situation and access other services. Research demonstrates that this approach can support resilience and adaptation.
An Ecosystem of Support
We have a close partnership with Moldovan organisation Moldova for Peace (MPP), which refers everyone who uses the Centre to us. MPP particularly appreciates that we offer people choice, provide items that are not accessible in standard ‘aid packages’, and integrate smoothly with existing services while offering something different and useful. As one of our friends from MPP put it, “They don’t just offer choice, people feel less vulnerable when they visit the Dignity Centre”.
We also work closely with international NGO Action Against Hunger (AAH)—the Dignity Centre featured in their video and article of stories from refugees and Moldovans who are supporting each other through the crisis. Though AAH’s usual remit is to work with local rather than international partners, they decided to collaborate with us because they could see that our choice-based model works extremely well. Plus, we arrived with knowledge and experience—and this self-sufficiency meant that AAH didn’t need to provide capacity building support.
Our impact so far
This infographic, crated to mark the one-year anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine, shows some of the key ways we’re making a difference:
Dignity, not charity
As well as providing essentials to Ukrainian people and supporting the generous Moldovans who have welcomed them, the Dignity Centre offers choice, shows solidarity and creates a small sense of normality.
In this video, discover how the Dignity Centre operates, and hear from volunteers and members about the value of the work.
In this video, the beautiful normality of the Dignity Market is revealed in small but significant details: People carefully choosing what they want, making decisions as a family and chatting to friendly volunteers.
And here, translator Daniyl talks movingly about his journey from Ukraine in the wake of the war—and how he’s helping out now in Moldova.
Help us support Ukrainians and Moldovans
With your help, we can continue serving over 1,000 Ukrainians every week while supporting the wonderful Moldovan people.
We also need volunteers to deliver our pioneering approach — showing solidarity and respecting the dignity of the people we support. It is deeply rewarding work.