United World Project

Workshop

Evil will not have the last word

 
22 March 2022   |   Ukraine, Welcome Migrants, Città Nuova
 
By Città Nuova Editorial Staff

The story of a reader who lives near the Fernetti border with Slovenia. The embrace of an entire community for Ukrainian refugees.

I live a few kilometres from the border where Ukrainian refugees are arriving. I wondered what I could do and, first of all, I wanted to see how the reception had been set up in the same room/hotel where, years before, I had taught Italian as a volunteer to Afghan and Pakistani refugees.

Encouraged during the phone call, on Saturday 5 March I go to the place and find out that some people had started to welcome people arriving to use the toilets and offer hot tea and coffee, water, juice, sweets, apples, stuffed animals and toys.

Buses are stopped as soon as they enter to check the passengers and only then are they allowed to disembark and stay for a while.

While providence set in motion, in a splendid way police, Unicef, Civil Protection and the UN Refugee Agency play different but very important roles.

Those who knew the manager of the premises, like me, immediately made themselves available and a group of people formed with him through incredible word of mouth that give their availability 24 hours a day: those who can speak Ukrainian, Russian, English, those who bring the things needed, those who make time and cars available for rides: it is a continuous filling of goods that come out topped with smiles and the word thank you in many languages.

A lady leaves me bags of baby nappies, snacks and juice telling me that she has received an inheritance of money and now she thought she could use it for this: “Let me know, tell me what you need and I’ll provide it”.

Through a friend, three people arrive who are members of the Christian Adventist Church: they are very sensitive and socially active and so one of them is of Ukrainian origin but has been in Italy for many years, has made herself available with her young daughter today and in the coming days.

We put their number in the Whatsapp group that helps us all day long in this continuous giving.

A young Ukrainian man is available at night but does not have a car: how to get to Fernetti?

I pick him up and we get to know each other: he is 25 years old and doing a PhD in Trieste. He is from Lviv. We talk about his country and try to understand, to listen to our versions, our perplexities, our thoughts. I stay with him until midnight to help, then return the next day.

I realise that special care must also be taken in cleaning the toilets; after the coming and going of a sea of people, in the evening I see that they are almost as presentable as in the morning after washing and disinfecting, I would never have expected this!

What a grief to meet the gaze of mothers with their children, many young people, some elderly. How heartbreaking, it doesn’t seem true!

An elderly woman out of breath, struggles to get off the bus, cries, she has a handkerchief on her head and is in her dressing gown: she throws herself at my neck, I cry with her, we say nothing to each other.

I receive the heartfelt embrace of a boy of perhaps 12 years old who, not being able to speak my language, with this impulse gives me certainty, thanks me and makes me understand that we can hope for a better world.

We manage to find hot soup for the mothers and children who have been on the road for two days because the driver who volunteered to do so has already been here and knows us.

They all need to be tested because they don’t continue immediately to another destination in Italy, but stop in Trieste for a night in a parish: a doctor friend makes himself available.

There is an elderly couple who cannot find accommodation: they will come to our house and the next morning we will accompany them to take the train to Naples where their two children and grandchildren are waiting for them.

During dinner they open up and tell us. He speaks Italian with a Neapolitan accent, she has Russian origins, he is Ukrainian, and they come from Kircuk. Ten days in a shelter underground, they fled during the bombing of the houses next to theirs, they are alive by a miracle.

We take courage from each other, knowing that as long as there are people ready to see in each other a brother, evil will not have the last word.

We are all weighed down by what is happening, yet my husband and I have a joy in our hearts that cannot be described.

In the meantime, the ‘fernetti group’ is growing and the joy of getting to know each other and working together is creating a welcoming atmosphere here that everyone should find.

And providence continues its work, who knows what it will come up with in such a beautiful and spontaneous atmosphere.

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