Ahead of Mother's Day, first lady Jill Biden hears 'heartbreaking' stories of Ukraine moms
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Just ahead of Mother's Day this year, first lady Jill Biden — during a visit she made to Romania this weekend — heard stories she described as "heartbreaking" from Ukrainian women and children who were forced to flee their home country amid Russia’s attack.
Many have found safety in neighboring Romania.
It is clear the wounds of these moms and kids will take a very long time to heal.
Said Jill Biden, "I think mothers will do anything for their children."
One refugee mother told the first lady about a dramatic escape after she and her 8-year-old daughter hid in a cramped, cold basement amid the attacks on their country.
Reaching Romania "was a game change[r] for us," Svitlana Gollyak of Kharkiv, Ukraine, told Biden in her native language.
The conversation occurred during the first lady's tour of a Bucharest public school that is hosting refugee children, according to the Associated Press.
Gollyak said her daughter "feels much better here."
This map of the Ukraine region shows Romania to the southwest, where many Ukrainian refugees have escaped. (iStock)
There are "no more tears and she adapted very nicely," the woman said
Jill Biden told Gollyak and the other women, "I think mothers will do anything for their children."
U.S. first lady Jill Biden waves at a commemorative commissioning ceremony for the USS Delaware nuclear submarine at the Port of Wilmington, Delaware, on April 2, 2022. (REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz)
She also said that they were "amazingly strong and resilient."
Biden said her message to the families was "we stand with you."
On Thursday, United Nation's emergency relief chief Martin Griffiths said that humanitarian needs continue to rise in war-torn Ukraine — where an estimated 7.7 million people are now internally displaced, according to the U.N.
Mrs. Biden watched as the children wrote messages on paper cutouts of their hands.
In addition, more than 5.7 million people have fled out of Ukraine to seek shelter, ever since Feb. 24, when Russia first invaded Ukraine, the U.N. refugee agency said.
‘I want to return to my father’
During the first lady's visit, the children worked on a craft activity at the school.
Mrs. Biden watched as the children wrote messages on paper cutouts of their hands. One young Ukrainian girl scribbled, "I want to return to my father."
Refugees with children walk after fleeing the war from neighboring Ukraine at a railway station in Przemysl, Poland, on Tuesday, March 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
First lady Jill Biden later told reporters the girl’s words were "heartbreaking," the AP reported.
The first lady praised the Romanian government and relief organizations for the range of humanitarian aid that they are providing to the refugees.
‘Teachers are the glue’
At the school, the first lady witnessed how teachers are helping some of the 900,000 or so Ukrainians who have fled to Romania since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
"We wake up every morning and think ‘this has to end’ — but it still keeps going on and on."
"Really, in a lot of ways, the teachers are the glue that help these kids deal with their trauma and deal with the emotion and help give them a sense of normalcy," Mrs. Biden said.
"We’re all hopeful, right," she also told reporters. "We wake up every morning and think ‘this has to end’ — but it still keeps going on and on."
First lady Jill Biden speaks during a panel on cancer during a visit to the Mays Cancer Center, on Feb. 23, 2022, in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by SERGIO FLORES/AFP via Getty Images)
About 7,000 Ukrainians cross the border and arrive in Romania daily, said Pablo Zapata, the Romanian representative for the U.N. refugee agency, the AP reported.
Mother's Day this year in U.S.
The first lady's visit occurred just ahead of Mother's Day in the U.S. — a day normally celebrated peacefully but a day on which pro-abortion activist groups have pledged to disrupt Catholic churches all over the country.
They're upset about the recent leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion, which would overturn the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade, which in 1973 effectively made abortion legal in the U.S.
Ahead of Sunday, May 8, pro-abortion activists organized by the group "Ruth Sent Us" published the home addresses of the six conservative justices of SCOTUS — and said they're planning to gather at the justices' private residences to protest the likely overturn of Roe.
The White House this week would not tell abortion activists to avoid Supreme Court justice's homes, with White House press secretary Jen Psaki instead saying that President Biden believes in "peaceful protests."
But the administration had no "official U.S. government position on where people protest."
Kelly Laco and Maureen Mackey of Fox News Digital, as well as the Associated Press, contributed reporting to this article.