The “Rooftop Reception in Support of Ukrainian Refugees in Moldova” held on May 24 proved to be a remarkable event, bringing together over 120 community leaders, esteemed speakers, dedicated sponsors, and compassionate individuals, all united in their commitment to making a difference in the lives of Ukrainian refugees in the Republic of Moldova. The event, organized at the Open Society Foundation’s Rooftop overlooking the White House by the Embassy of the Republic of Moldova in partnership with Romanians of DC, the Open Society Foundation, and Ukraine Focus, aimed to raise funds for the “Moldova for Peace” initiative, which provides vital assistance to those affected by the conflict.
The “Moldova for Peace” initiative, the recipient of the funds raised during the event, continues to be a beacon of hope for thousands of Ukrainian refugees in Moldova. One year after the start of the war in Ukraine, this civic initiative, has been focused on meeting the basic needs of refugees, supporting their integration into the local community, and advocating for their rights and well-being. Each week, the Moldova for Peace initiative extends its support to over 6,000 individuals, providing essential food and hygiene products. The initiative recognizes the diverse needs of the refugee population and aims to address them with compassion and care. Their commitment to helping those in need has garnered support and admiration from the local community.
The event was born out of the visit made by Congresswoman Diana DeGette to Moldova in October 2022, reflecting her deep commitment to supporting the Moldovan people and addressing the needs of Ukrainian refugees. During her visit, Congresswoman DeGette, alongside Chairman of the House Democracy Partnership, Representative David Price, and Representatives Jim Cooper and Andy Levin, engaged in meaningful discussions with members of parliament, national and local government officials, and civil society representatives. The House Democracy Partnership, a bipartisan commission of the U.S. House of Representatives, works tirelessly to support the development of effective, independent, and responsive legislative institutions worldwide. Inspired by her visit and the invaluable insights gained, Alana Marsili, Deputy Director and Senior Advisor in the United States House Foreign Affairs Committee, played a crucial role in spearheading the event which stands as a testament to the enduring partnership between the United States and Moldova in addressing humanitarian crises and fostering international solidarity.
The event was also made possible through the collaboration and support of Romanians of DC, a prominent organization representing the Romanian-American community in Washington, DC. Since the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine, Romanians of DC has been actively expressing solidarity with the Ukrainian community and condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On behalf of the Romanian-American community, the Federation of Romanian American Organizations (FORA), of which Romanians of DC is a founding member, issued a statement reaffirming their support for the Ukrainian people and denouncing the violation of international law. Recognizing the impact of the war reaching Romania’s border, the Romanian diaspora has urged decision-makers and NATO allies to provide critical assistance to Romanian authorities and civil society stakeholders involved in emergency response operations and providing humanitarian aid to incoming civilian Ukrainian refugees. The support and involvement of Romanians of DC in this event further showcased the spirit of unity and compassion among the diverse communities present, emphasizing the collective efforts to address the urgent needs of those affected by the crisis.
The evening commenced with heartfelt gratitude expressed to the event sponsors, whose generous donations made the event possible. Romanians of DC extends its deepest appreciation to Salveto Wine Distributors, RoMotiv, Interbalt Fine Wine & Spirits, and Moldova European Food Market for their incredible support. Their commitment to philanthropy and their belief in creating positive change have left an indelible mark on the success of the event.
The reception featured an esteemed lineup of speakers who eloquently addressed the importance of supporting Ukrainian refugees and the transformative work being carried out by the “Moldova for Peace” initiative. Among the honorable guests were:
H.E. Viorel Ursu, Ambassador of the Republic of Moldova to the USA: Ambassador Ursu’s presence added a touch of diplomatic significance to the event. His remarks highlighted the importance of international cooperation and the dedication of the Republic of Moldova in providing a safe haven for Ukrainian refugees. The Ambassador’s words resonated with the audience, further strengthening the commitment to supporting those in need.
Congresswoman Diana DeGette: As a Democrat from Colorado, Congresswoman DeGette has been a strong advocate for refugees and humanitarian causes throughout her career. Her firsthand experience visiting Moldova in October 2022 with a delegation from the US Congress inspired her to propose the idea of the event. Her presence and impassioned speech resonated deeply with the audience, further reinforcing the significance of collective action.
Yaroslav Brisiuck, Deputy Chief of the Embassy of Ukraine in Washington: Deputy Chief Brisiuck’s presence underscored the unity and solidarity between Ukraine and Moldova in addressing the challenges faced by refugees. His words of appreciation and support for the “Moldova for Peace” initiative further highlighted the significance of collaboration in creating a better future for displaced individuals.
Derek J. Mitchell, President of the National Democratic Institute: With his extensive experience in international affairs, Mitchell brought valuable insights into the challenges faced by Ukrainian refugees. As President of the National Democratic Institute, Mitchell has been at the forefront of promoting democracy and human rights around the world. His address shed light on the critical role civil society organizations play in providing aid and fostering resilience among displaced populations.
The more formal part of the event concluded with remarks by the two representatives of the “Moldova for Peace” initiative: Constanța Dohotaru and Oleg Tomșa who traveled specifically for this event from Chișinău. Constanța Dohotaru, a passionate advocate for women’s empowerment and refugee assistance and the program coordinator of the Community Center 151, an initiative implemented by the NGO “Laolaltă” for Moldova for Peace, has been instrumental in providing a safe space for local and refugee women in Chișinău. Through her podcast titled ‘Omul face locul’ (The Human Shapes the Place), Constanța brings a valuable woman’s perspective to the patriarchal and post-social urban environment. As a board member of Genderdoc-M and Platzforma and a member of the Gender Equality Platform in Moldova, she actively promotes gender equality and advocates for the rights and well-being of women. Constanța shared insights about the projects carried out within the ”Moldova for Peace” initiative, highlighting the support provided by citizens involved in the initiative to Ukrainian refugees residing in Moldova. Her compelling speech shed light on the importance of community support and solidarity in creating a better future for all.
The event was skillfully led by President and CEO of Ukraine Focus, Brock Bierman and by Iolanta Mura, who ensured that the evening flowed smoothly and created an atmosphere of warmth and compassion. Their dedication and passion for the cause were evident throughout the event, inspiring attendees to contribute to the noble mission of the “Moldova for Peace” initiative.
One of the highlights of the event was the silent auction, which showcased a remarkable array of items representing the rich culture and heritage of Moldova, Ukraine, and Romania. Among the items were two exquisite paintings, specially created for the event by the talented artist Vasiluța Vasilache. These paintings featured vibrant colors inspired by the Ukrainian flag and depicted beautiful yellow forsythia flowers, symbolizing hope and resilience. The auction also featured handcrafted, hand-embroidered jewelry by RoMotiv, adorned with traditional folk designs from Moldova, showcasing the intricate craftsmanship and cultural motifs. Attendees had the opportunity to bid on a basket of Moldovan goodies and on two boxes of delightful Moldovan candy, capturing the flavors of the region, and on books illustrated with stunning photographs of Moldova, providing a visual journey through its diverse landscapes and historical landmarks. Furthermore, the silent auction presented wines from Pripa Winery and Crama Mircești, also known as the ‘Little Tuscany of Moldova,’ allowing participants to savor the unique and exquisite flavors of Moldovan winemaking. Additionally, two traditional Moldovan embroidered shirts adorned with national ornaments, were brought all the way from Chișinău by the representatives of Moldova for Peace, showcasing the traditional attire and cultural heritage of the region.
Notably, representatives from “Moldova for Peace” also brought a collection of poignant artworks created by children and adults at the three-day event called “Dreams Through Painting” to be featured in the silent auction. These paintings, brimming with creativity and resilience, captured the dreams and aspirations of the Ukrainians who have found a new home in Moldova. Additionally, handmade toys in the patriotic colors of Ukraine, skillfully woven by the talented Ukrainian artist Tatyana, were also available for bidding. These items symbolize the spirit of resilience and hope and serve as a reminder of the strength and determination of the Ukrainian refugees. The silent auction was a resounding success, attracting enthusiastic bids from attendees who were eager to support the cause and bring home these remarkable pieces.
The event was further enhanced by captivating performances from the Carpathia Folk Dance Ensemble and the talented young folk singer, Florentina Banaga. The Carpathia Folk Dance Ensemble, a renowned local group of performers, brought the vibrant spirit of Ukrainian, Moldovan, and Romanian dances to the stage. Their energetic and synchronized movements showcased the rich cultural heritage and traditions of these countries, leaving the audience mesmerized. Additionally, Florentina Banaga, a local folk singer, enthralled attendees with her soulful and captivating voice. Her performances resonated with the audience, bringing to life the heartfelt melodies and lyrical storytelling of Moldovan folk music. The Carpathia Folk Dance Ensemble and Florentina Banaga generously volunteered their talents to support the fundraiser, adding a touch of authenticity and joy to the event, and their performances were met with enthusiastic applause and appreciation.
The outcome of the event surpassed all expectations, thanks to the unwavering support and generosity of the attendees. Through ticket sales, auctions, and donations, an impressive amount of over $12,000 was raised. These funds will be channeled directly to the “Moldova for Peace” NGO, enabling them to continue their critical work of providing essential assistance to Ukrainian refugees in Moldova.
“Your presence at the event made a significant difference,” said Bogdan Banu, President of the Romanians of DC. “We cannot express enough gratitude for the time, support, and generosity demonstrated by our attendees. Your contributions will have a lasting impact on the lives of those affected by this unjust conflict.”
For those who were unable to attend the event, there is still an opportunity to make a difference. Donations can be made at https://chuffed.org/project/h3toykekimtrbte. Every contribution matters and helps in creating a brighter future for displaced individuals.
Romanians of DC, as one of the organizers of this even, extends its heartfelt appreciation to all attendees, sponsors, and speakers who made the “Rooftop Reception in Support of Ukrainian Refugees in Moldova” a resounding success. Together, we stand in solidarity with those who need our support, reaffirming our commitment to making a positive impact in the world.