Bilbao (EFE).- “We can no longer be the same as a year ago, we are better people”; is the summary of the experience of a family of seven members who have welcomed five Ukrainian refugees for nearly a year in their home in Getxo (Bizkaia).
Kaitin Ochandiano and Pablo Solla, parents of five children, four of them adopted, whose ages range from 20 to 8 years old, decided a year ago to sign up to the Basque Government page that organized receptions for Ukrainian families.
“We saw the images on television of people at the border and it was overwhelming. We had a place at home and we offered. That’s how it all started,” Pablo Solla explained to EFE.
A few days later, Vlada, 52, with her children Veronika, 27, and Andrii, 15; Yulia, a friend of Vlada, also 52, and Rehina, 16 and Veronika’s sister-in-law, who are the two people who still remain in the house, since the other three returned to Ukraine last December.
Easy and fluid coexistence
Coexistence – “easy and fluid”, as Kaitin Ochandiano has specified – has resulted in “learning everything; It seems like a set phrase, but it has made us and our children better people: we have given up space, shared friends, we have empathized with people who have experienced a situation that we did not even imagine”.
“We have seen firsthand the story of what happened in their country and how they managed to get out of there through a green corridor with corpses on the corners; this marks a before and after, we can no longer be the same as a year ago ”, she commented.
What has been lived also helps to value what you have, as they highlight, and to relativize your problems.
“Veronika’s husband stayed in Ukraine and volunteered at the front; when they communicated by video call, he told about the war, and then you think what it must feel like to be in an imposed war, ”reflects Kaitin.
“They are people like us and, suddenly, a madman invades your country and you have to leave, leave your home, your family… we have tried to contribute our bit so that they are better and if it has helped, that is enough” , she said excitedly.
Pablo recounts that they tried to make them “as comfortable as possible” also so that they could convey to their relatives in Ukraine “a message of tranquility.”
“I put myself in the place of husbands, who are in the drama of the war, and that your wife calls you crying and saying that she is fatal and that she is not well in the foster home… it is adding problems to problems ”, he considered.
The reception logistics were set up in a few days, according to what they say. The eldest son offered the lower part of the house, where he lived independently, for foster care and family and friends provided “impressive help” by bringing mattresses, sheets, blankets or cabinets home.
“Everything was quick and easy…although there were five people, three adults and two teenagers, they took up space and were a bit cramped, as if they had been shoehorned in…fortunately we have a tent, which is always handy”, they say.
They assure that the women have been “very cooperative and generous, super heavens; They have helped in everything they could, be it the garden, food or housework, and also Veronika knows Spanish and we were able to understand and communicate well”. The rest speak English.
“A large part of the success of coexistence is that they had their independence; They came from a very dramatic situation and if they didn’t feel like interacting they could be in their space or in another place…we have respected each other a lot on both sides” and, she adds with a laugh, “when we had fights with our children, they disappeared”.
Sending aid to Ukraine
Yulia, who still remains in Getxo with Rehina, comments that at first, she thought her stay would only last a couple of months, but almost a year later she doesn’t know whether to return or stay because “the situation in Ukraine changes day by day.” day, worse.”
Coming from the Irpin area, one of the most massacred by the Russian army, he recounts that after the bombardments, “everything was destroyed… we had no light, no water, no coverage to make phone calls and hear from our family and friends , and we decided to leave the country.”
The trip was not easy either – “you move where you can, not where you want” -, and after passing through Poland, he ended up with Rehina in Bilbao, where they knew Vlada was.
“Kaitin and Pablo reassured us and we went to their house…we are very well with them and with all their family and friends…between all of us we have gathered 170 boxes of humanitarian aid and we have sent them to Ukraine”, he indicated.
Rehina, 16, says she wants to return to Ukraine, but that it is “very dangerous.”
She is enrolled in a local school and also competes in swimming with a team that won third place in the Spanish Championship last summer.
“But I miss my parents, my friends who stayed in Ukraine; my dream would be that they, and my brother, could be here, close to me”. EFE