Elliot Yamamoto

YSP UK in Moldova: “How could I lead such a community, that promotes peace, and not offer my support?”

We are all aware of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Seeing this terrible conflict on the news and social media outlets, made me question what I was doing… I am currently the UK Lead for Youth and Students for Peace (YSP). YSP is a NGO that promotes peace and sustainable development within communities. How could I lead such a community, that promotes peace, and not offer my support? Something didn’t sit right. Thus, me and my colleague, Simran, were sponsored by FFWPU UK to fly to Chisinau, Moldova to help YSP Moldova and FFWPU Moldova.

FFWPU Moldova has turned their centre in Chisinau into a refugee daycare centre to help accommodate some of the 35,000 Ukraine refugees currently in Moldova. This centre is called the ‘Sunflower Centre’. Here they hold a variety of well-being and counselling activities for children and mothers throughout the week. Further, YSP Moldova is at the forefront of developing inter-community activities across Chisinau and neighbouring towns and cities.

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to not only participate in various programs, but to lead and deliver activities for a variety of communities, from sports games, joining art activities for refugees, and even sharing the stage with the Mayor of Chisinau to deliver a talk on the importance of community-building based on family values.

We had gone to to Chisinau to offer our time. However, me and Simran both received so much more than we gave. My concept of a “refugee” was a person who was glum in their situation, who may have had a sense of hopelessness. In reality, though, this general concept was far from the truth. The Ukraine refugees (in fact the Moldovan people of Chisinau too) were welcoming, smiling and embracing. It was a beautiful sight to see both nationalities working together for a greater good.

I have learnt so much from this trip: we are privileged. We should be pushing ourselves to give, forget we have given, and give again. Also, love is not limited and knows no boundaries and borders – we are all the same – God’s children.

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