Ion, age 17 lived in a small town close to Donetsk, Ukraine. One day he began to walk. And didn’t stop.
Ion had lost everything. He was forced into hiding after a group of separatists killed his mother. He kept to the shadows, aided solely by a stranger who secretly brought him food from time to time. After a few months, Ion decided to make a run for it.
Ion walked at night and slept through the day. After three months, he crossed both Ukraine and Moldova, finally reaching Romania where he was discovered by the Romanian Border Police.
Fortunately the police brought Ion to an asylum refugee center, and from there he was transferred to the Not For Sale team who operate safe houses in Timisoara, Romania. A little over 7 months ago, a family took him in, supporting his dream of becoming an electrical engineer.
Ion’s story is not unique, and sadly few of them end so well. Due to the rising tension in the Slavic regions, it feels as if WWIII will break out at any moment. And traffickers love the chaos. They make fabulous sums of money off children and who have lost their parents and relatives. Unaccompanied minors are dragged through covert routes day and night, all because they are alone. Their childhood is stolen by our indifference.
Not For Sale Romania aids these minors, providing shelter, education, love, and a chance at a childhood. “In our safe house, they find their own oasis of peace,” says director NFS Romania director Marianna Petersel. “They feel loved, taken care of, and go to school to learn a profession.”
Although the refugee and unaccompanied minors crisis seems insurmountable in Europe, Not For Sale Romania works creatively to lay a foundation for human dignity.