“I’m going to Poland.” “What do you need? Count on our house.” These are the two messages that Laura Pérez, a Sabadell resident, and Alla Yamolenko, a 20-year-old Ukrainian who, completely alone, decided to leave the Kiev basement where she had been hiding for a week, were exchanged on Instagram on Saturday, March 5. knowing that he left behind his parents, brothers and nephews, who even today do not know his whereabouts. “There is our family, we did not hesitate for a second to welcome her, we could not do anything else“, assumes Laura. She and her husband, Javier España, have been spending Christmas and summer with each other for nine years. Nastia YamolenkoAlla’s sister. A teenager who lives in a village in Chernobyl, now an area occupied by Russian troops. “It was just on the Saturday that Alla wrote to us that we stopped having communication with Nastya, We don’t know if she’s alive, if she has food….”, says Laura with glazed eyes. Alla is installed in the room that her little sister has occupied in Sabadell for almost a decade. “I no longer fear for my life, but I am desperate, I can’t do anything for my family.”agrees the girl, already safe from the war.
A colorful ribbon holds the mobile of Laura Pérez who, from Terminal 1 of El Prat Airport, does not take her eyes off the screen. Expect to see Alla Yamolenko’s curls among the streams of passengers heading home or sightseeing. “She tells me that she is inside the airport but she doesn’t know how to get out, she is a very shy girl, who doesn’t speak English and had never left the Ukraine,” says Laura. Upon arrival, she merge into a hug seasoned with kisses and hugs. The girl, overwhelmed, can only say thank you. She does it with her eyes and her hands, she doesn’t speak Spanish. It was the third time that she sees the couple from Egar. The previous two meetings were in Musiyky, a small village near Chernobyl, which Laura and Javier had visited to meet the Yamolenko family. “The town must be destroyed… it’s outrageous…”, says Laura when she remembers the two trips to the Ukraine.
A daughter caught up in war
The relationship between this married couple from Vallès and the small Ukrainian village of Musiyky dates back to 2013, through of the NGO Es Per Tu. One of many entities that, after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, welcomes children from the area so that they can rest during Christmas and the summer in Catalonia. Laia Morales, secretary of the association, confirms that the requests for shelter have grown overwhelmingly. “We have more than 2,000 families willing to welcome refugees, what happens is that most of the children are in occupied territory and cannot leave“, he explains. Nastya is one of them. “We signed up because we can’t have children. Nastya came when she was six years old and wearing a huge orange hair tie. Now she is quite a teenager… She is like our daughter”, says Laura. Javier looks at her. His eyes mist up. “When the war broke out, he contacted us daily, we went through the attacks, the bombings together… now his phone doesn’t give a signal, we don’t know anything,” insists Laura.
tired of being afraid
A silence that Alla finds unbearable. The last day she saw her parents and her siblings was February 20. When her life was “happy and calm”. She was the shyest of the family, the one who always hid when someone took a picture. She worked as an operator in Kiev and there she was caught by the war. “The first day of the bombings I ran to my older sister’s house and we hid in her basement and we didn’t go out anymore. We lived seven people, two were children“, he explains through Google translate. “It was terrifying. A man went some days for food. Until one day I got tired of being afraid, and decided to leave the country, “he continues. Her sister, mother of a two-year-old boy, refused to accompany her.” She did not want to leave her husband alone, “he says. her.
A bag with four pieces of clothing, the passport, and the need to leave fear behind. With these things Alla began a journey that was hell. First, at the Kiev train station. “Twelve people in a four-seater car, people sleeping on the floor…”, describes. Then walk to Lviv. “I spent 5 hours waiting to catch the bus that would take me to the border. It was the most difficult thing. Enduring the snow, the cold, the children and the elderly crying, scared… I cried a lot. You don’t know if you’ll sleep on the floor… it’s horrible“, she types. Finally, she managed to cross the border, where some volunteers gave her a ticket to Warsaw. And there she was received by Montse, a Catalan who lives in Poland and who opened the doors of her house to her at the request of the association ‘És Per Tu’. “They were very kind to me”, he thanks. Last Wednesday he made the last stage. First a flight from Warsaw to Bologna (Italy), and at six in the afternoon he landed in El Prat.
He tells his whole story from Laura and Javier’s apartment. There are no more bombs, no hunger, no fear. But the feeling at home is bittersweet. “I will only breathe easy when I know that my family is well”insists the young refugee. Laura manages to follow the routine thanks to the tranquilizers. Javi has stopped watching the news and trusts that magic will soon be done. The shyest of the family clung to life, she survived the war, the hunger, the cold and she managed to cross Europe alone. “We also didn’t know if Alla would make it to Sabadell and here she is, I’m sure that in a few days Nastia will have a connection again and we can have the family reunite in this house,” Laura confides.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.