HASTINGS, ENGLAND – Our coverage of Stories from Ukraine continues. We sent our crew back to Europe to cover the crisis. They are currently in England where many refugees they met earlier in Poland, have temporarily resettled. They share how these refugees are trying to build a life for themselves in a foreign land.
Every Saturday in a church in the city center of Hastings, England, a handful of Ukrainian refugees gather. They prepare traditional Ukrainian food, listen to popular Ukrainian music and every now and then, break out into song.
“The fact that there are other people from your homeland, very helpful,” said Varta, a Ukrainian refugee.
Varta has never been to England before she fled here due to the war. She said it’s been tough to be in Hastings while her mom stays at their home in southern Ukraine.
“You can always come here in this place and the only place they kindly, they were happy to invite us here and we are happy to be here,” said Varta. “And it’s really important to speak your native language, your mother language. So I think the language is the main reason why I go here every week.”
For them, these weekly gatherings have become a place where they can lean on each other. They celebrate the good news of Ukraine’s advances or support each other during this war.
“I’ve lost my home but I’ve got a family much more than I could even imagine,” said Natalia, a Ukrainian refugee.
These meetings have given them a sense of shared community, something valuable in a foreign land.
“It seems like we’re stuck because we have families there and also we have the opportunity to build new life here and you can’t do it because you always like look back,” said Varta. “You look back, you can’t go further. If you’re looking back all the time so it’s this feeling I have never thought about this because I’ve never been a refugee and now I understand all these people from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, everywhere.”
We will continue our series: Stories from Ukraine all of next week. Our team in Europe will soon head to Poland and then onto Ukraine.