Cristina’s life-changing journey from advertising to humanitarian work for refugees in Moldova
“When you know you have contributed, even if only in a small way, to a better and more stable society, you are inspired to work even harder and give more of yourself,” shared Cristina Virschi, World Vision’s Project Coordinator. Cristina started working with World Vision in August 2022, five months after the war in Ukraine began.
The Protection and Educational Support to Ukrainian Refugees and Host Community Children in Moldova" Project funded by the Australian Government's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and being implemented by Ave Copiii that she leads supports the education, child protection and psychosocial needs of Ukrainian refugees and host communities by establishing inclusive and accessible support facilities.
“My favorite aspect of the job is witnessing the happiness of the children we assist: their joy and bliss seen in their eyes, and wide smiles,” said Cristina. She continued, “I know I did my part well when I see that children getting the education and psychosocial support they need.”
In one her visits to the child friendly spaces in the southern part of Moldova, she joined the children were seated at their desks in the bright room, decorated with a small green carpet, several white bookshelves piled with literature volumes, and colorful floor cushions. Their faces looked exhausted after a long school day.
“We greeted them and attempted to make them laugh by imitating some amusing facial expressions. After the first giggles, the wall between us faded away, and we had an excellent time together,” recalled Cristina.
She continued, “I learned that you must be professional and objective in your work while also living in the moment and having fun. In the end, it is all about enjoying what you are doing. It all comes down to being human wherever we all come from.”
Solidarity, empathy, and hard work are among Cristina’s core values. “You must be driven by determination, and you must love working with and for people,” she shared.
In the end, it is all about enjoying what you are doing. It all comes down to being human wherever we all come from.
“Working in an emergency response like this one requires teamwork, so having a supportive team is essential. You cannot change the world on your own, but with the right people on board, you can accomplish amazing things”, she added.
Cristina’s journey goes back to when she graduated from the University of the Fine Arts in Bucharest. Young, energetic and passionate, she had a vivid zeal for the visual arts, spending over five years as an illustrator and graphic designer in the advertising industry.
Cristina worked as a production supervisor in Vienna, where she managed teams of over 100 people. “That was the moment when I realized I was capable. I could do it in real time,” she said.
After almost a decade working for production agencies in Bucharest, Vienna, Buenos Aires, and Berlin, she and her husband set up their own filming company, based in Dubai.
“It was a one-man show. We took care of everything together,” recalled Cristina with a twinkle in her blue eyes mirroring her creativity and passion for any work she involves herself into.
Her team created social campaigns in Rwanda, India, Syria, and the Philippines, for media outlets like Al Jazeera. Their company was awarded “the best and most creative production house in the Middle East”.
Filming women fighting for their rights in India and doctors saving lives in refugee camps in Syria led Cristina to realize she wanted more than managing a production house. She had a growing desire to actively help. She wanted to become a humanitarian worker.
As her first job in humanitarian work, Cristina helped Moldovan small and medium farmers access grants and proper financial assistance. “We taught small and medium-sized farmers about accounting and fiscal responsibility”, she said.
“I was on a mission. Unlike in the private sector, the goal was not to make as much money as possible, but to help. In humanitarian work, everything has a meaning. I bring all my resources to bear on behalf of the vulnerable”, she concluded.
World Vision's response work in Moldova for Ukrainian refugees and host communities has reached out to over 60,000 people.
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Story by Laurentia Jora, Communications Officer I Photos by Eugene Combo and Chris Lete/WorldVision