The author’s children got acquainted with Ukrainian refugees during spring break – encounters are moving.
A perfect world somewhere between Belle and Bern: My kids spend a week of spring break with their grandparents. It’s been this way for years, but this holiday was different. Besides grandmother and grandfather, there were other guests in the house – Lyudmila and Edward, both in their mid-fifties. The Ukrainian couple comes from a town on the Sea of Azov not far from Mariupol, the port city that became famous during the Ukraine War. Ludmila and Edvard are war refugees. Her daughter, husband and three children are also in my father’s village. They are stranded there – far from home – indefinitely. Until the war is over, so they can go back to rebuild what was once their country.
My kids were really looking forward to the holidays with their grandparents, not least because of the Ukrainian kids. Unlike adults, children seem to have much less fear of contact with strangers. Because as soon as a ball hits the grass or an animated movie is shown on TV, kids are just kids. They play, learn from each other, discover each other – at least in this case, in an idealized Bernese world between cows and chocolate ice cream. How my son (9 years old) lived the time with the refugee family.
Who did you meet during the holiday?
Ludmila and Edward, who live with Grosswety. Grosschind and her parents are about ten minutes away in another house. Arseny is already in fifth grade, Plato goes to kindergarten, and Lisa is still young, about three years or so.
Why are they no longer able to stay in Ukraine?
They had to go because of the war. This is very unfortunate. In Ludmilla and Edvard there is a small hotel for Ukrainian tourists by a lake there. So one where the guests have to cook themselves. But in the meantime, Russian soldiers occupied the house, I think.
What is your impression of this family?
I found them to be very good honestly, Edward was cute but looked a bit grim. He also has silver teeth. Ludmilla has always been fiercely composed. The children seemed normal. Children look.
Before the holidays I was looking forward to Plato in particular. How was this encounter for you?
I was curious if he also rides a motorcycle and can do a “tail whip” (A trick in which the rider jumps up and rotates the footrest around the handlebar before landing on it again).
We’ve ridden scooters before, but we’ve played more football and things like that. In the evening we played a lot of memory and other games with the grandparents.
How did you get harmony?
with a mobile phone. They all have an automatic translation app installed. You can speak high German on your mobile and then it will be translated into Russian, they understand this in Ukraine.
Did that work well?
not always. Sometimes it didn’t translate correctly, but mostly it went just fine. Plato and I somehow always got along. Some of the words were even the same: “Futbol” or “Television” for TV. From time to time we also spoke a little English or were shown with hands and feet what we mean.
How was it for you to play with someone who doesn’t speak your language?
You just have to be patient. But we are still having fun
What do you wish for these people?
That they would soon be able to return home and that the war would be over.
Would you like to visit them when they return to Ukraine?
Yes, but only if it is not dangerous.
Thank you for this interview!
Well, I also got to know the Ukrainian guests in the meantime. Nice people who are abroad are waiting for the situation in their country to return to normal. Without excessive morals: my parents and children help to make the forced stay of Lyudmila, Edvard and their family more pleasant, and I am proud of that. At the same time, I intend to approach people more openly in the future. There are many reasons to defend each other, care and support one another – it doesn’t always have to be a war.
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