Romanian hotel near the border helps Ukrainian refugees

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Viorica and Traian Pacurar live in Satu Mare, Romania, just 30 minutes from the Ukrainian border. They own the Aurora Hotel in Satu Mare, and although they have been impacted financially by the COVID-19 pandemic; the Russian-Ukrainian crisis pushed them to transform their hotel into much more.

In addition to housing the refugees, they also give them free food and water as well as hygiene and medical supplies, not only at the hotel, but also at the border.

Their daughter, Sofia Gignac, and son-in-law, Nick Gignac, live in Corpus Christi and raise funds to help their family pay for the free services they provide to refugees.

“I didn’t realize the huge need that was growing very quickly,” said Sofia Gignac.

When his parents saw the massive number of refugees pouring into Romania from Ukraine on foot, by train and by car; taking them to their hotel was not a difficult decision.

“Imagine that they arrive after a few days, the majority of a few days, of travel, of cold weather travel,” Viorica Pacurar said.

They started to host about five to seven refugees, but now they host about 20 a night for free. They said the refugees are mainly women and children because the men have to stay in Ukraine to fight against the Russians.

“We were moved by what we saw close to us,” Viorica said.

They often go to the border to ask refugees what kind of supplies they need, even giving border officials their phone number so refugees know how to reach them.

Sofia, from Satu Mare, said she expects no less from her parents as they are always ready to help others.

So far, Sofia and her husband raised over $11,000, expecting to raise only a few thousand dollars at first when friends initially contacted them to see how they could help. They said they were both proud of their family for being so generous at a time when they needed it most.

“We started to realize that they were doing this on their own without telling anyone and sending us pictures of the refugees, so it felt like we wanted to help,” Nick Gignac said.

The Pacurars aren’t sure how long they’ll be hosting refugees, but said the influx of support from people all the way to Corpus Christi surprised them.

“People from Corpus Christi to help people here, it’s amazing. It’s so…a kind of solidarity…across the world,” Viorica Pacurar said.

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