How a Ukrainian wants to help rebuild war-torn areas with a business he started in Romania

-Two parts of khinkali, one part of manthi and one part of fried billmani, that’s what you said, right? In about 45 minutes, thank you!

The man sorting out the various dishes with different names is called Vasily Mihalko, 26 years old, and he is from Ukraine. He entered Romania on February 28, the first day of the Russian invasion, and for a few months he settled in Cluj, where he opened a service distributing traditional foods from his country.

We are in a Ukrainian restaurant.

The young man left the war as his wife Elena was in her last month of pregnancy when the misfortune struck.

“I couldn’t go to war and leave her alone. What was she doing with the child? I didn’t do the army either. I wasn’t scared, but I couldn’t leave my family, the unborn child,” the man tells

Also, her son, Vasily, was baptized and was born three weeks later at the maternity ward of the Baia-Mare County Hospital.

“Romania welcomed us and took care of our family,” she adds.

With only a handful of money with them and not knowing how long they would have to be away from home, Vasili thought of starting a business in Romania.

“The wife gave birth and we had some money but it was going away and we were very stressed. We don’t know where we will go, how we will live, what we will do. I talked to a Romanian friend and we said let’s try it. Also, we want to provide jobs to the refugees as well.”

After spending a few weeks in Sighet and Bia-Mare, the man returned to Cluj. He looked for a place to rent, then own, and two months ago Ukraine Food began serving traditional food throughout the city.

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“We had something similar in Ukraine, a company that delivers these. The highlight, you know, is that 90% of the orders are made by Romanians. A big surprise. There is already a community of Ukrainians here, but the people of Cluj mainly order our food”

Three women work in the kitchen here, all from Ukraine, from the Transcarpathia region, near the border: Maria (60), Maria (45) and Ilyana (40). They cook everyday. Living in an apartment rented by Vasily, they run away from home in the first days of the war and find themselves alone in Cluj.

“You know, I’ve talked to a lot of Ukrainians since the beginning of this invasion. There are many people who went as far as Poland, Germany, Hungary, others, but how they were treated in Romania, they are nowhere. I’m not saying that, but people who were here and those who went to other areas have seen the difference. Romanians are incredible. Out of all the countries that received refugees, I can say one hundred percent that they felt the best with you. The world is warm here, everyone jumps in to help, look how it is at the customs where there are volunteers helping. It’s incredible. Knowing the Romanian language here. We also have the advantage.”

Since opening, Vasily has been working with his comrades. He wants to help the unemployed. He continues to recruit, but he is never cut off from his native country. In the future, he will help rebuild war-torn areas.

“As much as we can, but we are doing it. Everyone should be involved, because this is the only way to rebuild Ukraine after the end of this terrible war. It is important to have professional development. I also hire hours, everyone works as much as they can. You are integrated with your child in kindergarten. , if you are a refugee settled in Cluj, you can follow a regular schedule, but things are not so simple. Now there are many people who go to different courses, women with children always or no place to leave them, so they come and work as much as they can, as long as they have time. Hiring, we want to continue to grow the business, because from here we will send money to Mariupol or Bucha or other effectively destroyed areas. We need to have such resources in the USA or in JER. Because it’s not money, we need everyone’s involvement. Every Ukrainian must somehow contribute to reconstruction. I am doing it from here with my family,” says the young man.

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How exactly do you want to help?, I asked him.

– “For example, we cannot build houses, but we will donate where there is a great need. We will send money to the most affected areas, where there is nothing left. But know that if you lose hope, you will lose everything. So, even if you only see a few ruins, from there, from among them , from among the ruins, our country will be rebuilt,” he explains.

Orders for Ukrainian food keep coming. A Romanian calls back and wants two halves of Mandy.

Mandi is served covered with butter, cream, onion sauce or garlic sauce and should not be cut or bitten into. In order not to lose the juice of the meat inside, it is believed that you need to eat a whole coat, so that the unaltered taste is felt. A topping is used with lots of pepper, parsley or cilantro. Cooks say that chili powder can also be used.

In two months, the food business began to function reasonably well, but this was only the beginning, Vasili adds.

“We are not rich, we want to help refugees and help our country. From here, your Romania has become our home. Temporary? I don’t believe it. We got a residence permit, a child’s birth certificate, and we are here now. Our future is here. From here we Let’s help Ukraine.

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