Hanna Chepil, UN Community Volunteer with UNDP Moldova, is engaging with war-affected communities and Ukranian refugees to assess their needs.
Hanna Chepil, UN Community Volunteer with UNDP Moldova, is engaging with war-affected communities and Ukrainian refugees to assess their needs.

Realities of the war: “We began to appreciate every minute, every moment.”

As of January 2024, there are more than 6.3 million refugees from Ukraine globally and approximately 90% of Ukrainian refugees are women and children. Hanna Chepil is one of these displaced individuals, who had to leave her country and her husband behind.

When the war started on 24 February 2022, Hanna couldn’t believe this was happening to her country. The conflict was so sudden that nobody, including Hanna, was ready. After she realized the severity of the situation, she volunteered to help others.

“It is a great grief when children suffer, when rockets hit residential buildings and not only houses, and at night, when people are sleeping.” Hanna Chepil, UN Community Volunteer with UNDP Moldova

After a while, Hanna started to live in constant fear. Her husband left home to join the fight, she had a sick father and she had to think about the safety of her child, therefore, Hanna decided to take refuge in Moldova with her 14-year-old son and left Ukraine in March 2022. When they arrived in Cahul, Hanna felt the immediate safety. She was grateful for the warm welcome, first aid, and accommodation. 

“We began to appreciate every minute, every moment more, even the fact that our relatives from Ukraine call us and say that they are alive today, everything is fine, this is also a delight, and thank God that they are alive.” Hanna Chepil, UN Community Volunteer with UNDP Moldova


Every day new refugees were arriving. After Hanna witnessed that some of them couldn’t cope with the intense emotions, she felt a huge motivation to help. They got through the same sufferings, same fears, thus, she could understand their needs better.

At that time, UNDP, as part of the EU-funded “Mayors for Economic Growth” initiative, had been looking for 14 UN Community Volunteers to cooperate with local authorities to enhance social cohesion within the communities they serve. 

Through volunteering, Hanna could support others with inclusion into the local community, but also, she could overcome her own grief, and gain the confidence she needed back then.

With this volunteering opportunity, Hanna could serve as a Ukrainian Friendship Officer, and collect data on refugees living in their localities, particularly the most vulnerable. The project aimed to strengthen the communication and dissemination of information, facilitate access to employment, education, and humanitarian aid, and organize community events and courses where refugees could share their own stories.

“We provide them with first aid. The first problem is when they arrive: where can they get humanitarian aid? Since utilities are now very expensive, the period is winter, then, of course, it is not superfluous to help with food.” Hanna Chepil, UN Community Volunteer with UNDP Moldova

In 2023, a total of 45 UN Volunteers dedicated their efforts to support Moldova to contribute to the Ukraine humanitarian response. As of January 2024, there are 289 registered refugees in Cahul and Hanna continues to provide support through volunteering. 

Hanna has been living in Cahul for 2 years now, but her biggest dream is to return to Ukraine one day to be with her husband, whom she can only see once every three months.

“I, like many others, came here for 2 weeks. But, unfortunately, the war has been going on for almost 2 years, and I hope that this year it will end and many will return home. We will rebuild Ukraine, revive it,” Hanna concludes.

UN Community Volunteering modality is one of many types of opportunities to volunteer through UNV. To learn more, visit: https://unvolunteers.exposure.co/decide-to-join-the-united-nations