ROUA Community Center is a safe space with integrated services and activities co-created by a Coalition made by Asociatia DEIS, YMCA Romania, City Makers, ASNV, Fundația de Voluntari Somaschi, YMCA Baia Mare, Rotaract Baia Mare, Rotaract T.E.A.M. Baia Mare, ASNV, together with Ukrainian refugees with the support of Action Aid, funded by Disaster Emergency Committee and co-funded by YMCA, FONSS, ARC, and Consiliul Tineretului din România.
Created as a response to the increased number of Ukrainian refugees in northern Romania, the center offers daycare for Ukrainian children, intended to help them cope with the trauma of being displaced from home, provides emotional support for mothers, and builds a community based on care and love.
As Alina Pop, Executive director of YMCA Romania and one of the initiators of the ROUA community center explains, the name ROUA is more than just combined country codes, but it has a significant meaning as the ROUA in Romanian means dew, the symbol of a fresh start and hope.
ROUA day care center offers a wide variety of programs to children and adults created not alone by the facilitators, but together with the community members. One of the most significant activities is cartooning with children, allowing young people to create characters, and conceive scenarios and storylines. The activity does not only help children to develop new skills but also helps them express their feelings through art and creativity.
“I like coming here because I have fun. We play games and learn new things. I gained many Ukrainian friends here but I want to have more Romanian friends too. I hope I will learn English better and speak with them more.” 15 years old member of the ROUA community center.
However, the center is more than just an entertainment place. As parents mentioned, at ROUA, they found emotional support that is “more valuable and needed than financial or help.”
“I heard about the center from a Ukrainian friend who arrived in Romania before me. I came here with my child, my sister, and her two children. Later our friend also arrived with her two underaged daughters. She could not bring her sons here as they are boys around 18, and they had to stay in Ukraine in case of emergency. When we gather here, we talk, meet people and get involved in activities. Here, people understand me and care about me. Together we are stronger.” said the 37 years old Ukrainian community member.
And through all these humble humane actions, small talks, sharing, and caring, ROUA Community Center is slowly becoming a big family and one more example and hope for a better, peaceful future.