Welcoming Ukrainian refugees: experiences and advice from the expert

S.there are many families who in recent days have made themselves available to welcome Ukrainian refugees: “The first mothers with their children were those who already had relations with Italy and who had the opportunity to leave early, with their own means”, explains Ermes Carretta, president of Ai.Bi. Children’s friends who personally hosted two mothers and 4 children. “Then it is, and will be, the turn of the women who have really seen the war and perhaps remained still with their small children in neighboring countries risking getting into the wrong car ».

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In Italy they look for a home for their children and a job to send money to Ukraine, where their parents live, where their husbands and brothers fight. Here are three stories and the advice of Diego Moretti, Ai.Bi. to those who decide to welcome Ukrainian refugees: from bureaucratic procedures to tips to help children feel less disoriented. P.or to be… good hosts for our guests.

Welcoming Ukrainian refugees to a Russian family

Olia is almost 35 years old and she is Russian. She filled in the request to welcome Ukrainian refugees on the Ukrainian consulate website on March 4, and on March 5 two sisters arrived with 3 children, the youngest one and a half years old. “They come from Černivci, on the border with Romania, an area that is still quiet for the moment,” says Olia. “But yesterday another woman joined: she arrived with two children of 7 years and 4 months and with a bag for all three, nothing else“. If one of the main problems when deciding to welcome refugees is the language, in this case it is not there: Ukrainians speak Russian, the language of Olia, «and they are not intolerant. It is I who am ashamed when I think about what my country is doing to their people. Like, on the other hand, I feel bad about thinking that those who are doing it, in spite of themselves, are boys of my age, who have watched the same cartoons as mine, listened to my same music ».

Olia’s whole family lives in Moscow: “Putin totally brainwashed everyone: they really think there are Nazis in Ukraine and that the army is protecting the country. I have not found other solutions to not lose the affection of my parents: we do not talk about it anymore ».

You can only take one thing away

The pickup is ready, in Kiev. It is already crammed with suitcases but two women and their 4 children still have to get on it. Before getting on, each child is allowed to carry only one thing, only one. And there are those who choose football boots, some a guitar, some a sketchbook. “Well, I believe that the task of those who choose to welcome refugees at this moment is not to lose sight of that one thing, and through that thing, help children to integrate in our territory», Explains Ermes Carretta, president of Ai.Bi, which today hosts those two mothers. “They live in our second home, on Lake Maggiore: welcoming Ukrainian refugees is easy when you have a second home available,” he admits. “In any case, the most important thing we can do is give them a network, a fabric of relationships that allows minors to meet peers, play football or play the guitar, and integrate. And for mothers to work, since earning money to send money to Ukraine is the main objective ».

Refugees from Ukraine (photo Ai.Bi.)

A twisted world but without war

Welcoming Ukrainian refugees is even more complicated when it comes to orphans: Diego Moretti, Aibi’s reception manager, welcomed about fifteen children between one and 12 years old, coming from a family home in Odessa. “I watched them from the rearview mirror of the van as I accompanied them to the building that would house them. I thought that not even the words on the billboards, in Latin script, helped them. I was taking them to a very twisted world. But without war, of course“. They looked at Diego with suspicion throughout the trip, without letting go of the heavy backpack and the water tank that each one had with him. They started to open when they arrived at their destination, at the Shalom house in Villa d’Adda, made available for them. “There are animals there,” says Dego: “A donkey, a horse. The children started playing, letting go. Never underestimate the power of nature and silence “.

The children of the Odessa family home, hosted in a structure in the Brescia area, meet the animals (Ai.Bi)

Tips for welcoming Ukrainian refugees

From Diego Moretti’s long experience in the field, here are some tips for families who have decided to welcome Ukrainian refugees into their homes.

For children

Always remember that they can be confused: do not overwhelm them with toys but choose for them open, spacious and natural contexts, where they can play throwing stones in a river or throwing a ball at a dog. Simple things

Don’t make them think too much. Always leave at their disposal some sheets and colors, some constructions. This is what is called occupational therapy. It helps.

Help them hang out meeting places and accompany them to school: iThe government has allocated a million euros to support the costs of linguistic and cultural mediation, as well as Of all that will be necessary to guarantee the welcome Of children and young people and their literacy.

For families

Within 48 hours from the moment of reception you have to fill in the hospitality declaration (to be sent to the Municipality in which hospitality is provided).

Refugees are protected by international protection rights valid for one year.

It is worth informing the Ukrainian consulate the presence of the family at our home.

Make a request at the Choice and Revocation desk of the ASST to which the persons belong health documents.

Provide a Wifi, so that they can get in touch with friends and family in Ukraine. It is one of their main needs.

Help, if necessary, to get in touch with compatriots already residing in Italy: they will also be excellent interpreters to communicate with you.

Ukrainian women are very energetic and the ones that are coming are full of adrenaline. At some point they will collapse, maybe in front of you. Stay close to them, even without speaking.