December 6, 2022

Taylor Daily Press

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Hana and Olena feel welcome in Brabant: 'Everyone wants our help'

Hana and Olena feel welcome in Brabant: ‘Everyone wants our help’

Hana Drahonova and her sister Olina Pavlenko have been living in Brabant for three days. While their city of Kyiv was bombed on the seventh day of the war, the two sisters fled with their two sons. They were housed in an old student room on the Edisonstraat in Eindhoven. “After living underground for seven days, this is a very beautiful place. These walls are beautiful,” Hannah says with tears in her eyes.

The two sisters show their room. They just kept on repeating how grateful they were and how much love and warmth they received in Holland.

Their sons eat Dutch stew with sandwiches and salami. They try to introduce themselves in English. Meanwhile, Hana apologizes in Ukrainian for the mess in their room.

In one day, volunteers and staff of the Trudeau Housing Association made way for forty refugees. In Hana and Olena’s room there are two beds, a wardrobe, a table with four chairs and a refrigerator. They can get food, clothes and toys for free in the space under their apartment.

“We had a very warm welcome here, it feels like we are with family,” Hanna says. “We have our own apartment here. We don’t have to ask for anything, everything is on offer right away and everyone wants to help us.” She obviously finds it very special how they were received in Eindhoven.

Olena is having a good day for the first time. The past few days have been very difficult for her. “We had to leave our men behind. We just wanted to save our children. We didn’t think about clothes or food when we tried to escape. We just wanted to escape.”

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“We also had to leave our cat Shurka behind,” her sister adds. “But also our family and friends. And don’t forget: we had to leave our city and our country behind. We miss them.”

The two women do not want to sit in the Netherlands. “I was having a good job in Ukraine,” Olina says. “Now I want to help here in the Netherlands. We don’t want to just sit here. We want to work, we want to learn the language and make sure our children can go to school.”

Read also: Dozens of Ukrainians were welcomed into apartments in Eindhoven