The arrival of Emma, a five-year-old girl at a Blue Dot in Romania

Blue Dots are welcoming spaces of support and protection for children and families, created by UNICEF and its partners

On 7 April 2022, five-year-old Emma arrived in Romania at Isaccea border crossing, in the southeast of the country, together with her mother Yulia and her younger brother, born at the end of January. Together with tens of other refugees, the three embarked on the ferry crossing the Danube from Orlivka, Ukraine, after a one-day journey from Odessa.

After her baby was born, Yulia moved to the countryside to stay safe, and they remained there for a month. “But three days ago, in our village, we saw fire, we saw bombs,” Yulia said. So they decided to flee to the nearest border. They will now travel onwards to Germany from Romania, where Yulia’s brother lives, but they plan to return to Ukraine as soon as the war ends. “We have a home in Ukraine, a father, and a mother in Ukraine,” said Yulia. Her parents live in the west of the country, in Ivano-Frankivsk. She also has a step-brother in Lviv.

After having their papers checked by the border authorities, Yulia and her children found shelter and support at the Blue Dot that UNICEF and its partners set up in Isaccea. For Emma in particular, it was a wonderful day spent playing with many other children in the playground inside the Mother and Child Space, drawing or playing games. At the same time, Yulia and her baby were able to find some well-deserved respite after their tiring travel.

After energetically drawing on a piece of paper, Emma was delighted to describe her picture: “This is the sun, this is the flower, this is a drop, and this, she says” – pointing to an unidentifiable part of the drawing – “is just a… kaliaki maliaki”, just “a doodle”.

In the afternoon, after almost a full day spent at the Blue Dot in Isaccea, Emma, her brother, and their mother Yulia boarded the bus that would take them to Bucharest. From there, they will go to Germany and a new life in safety, away from the ongoing war that has ravaged so many lives. Hopefully, they will be able to return to their homes and their loved ones soon.