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Reunited Ukrainians stunned by local hospitality

[news] time:2023-06-06 10:15:44 source:ABC News author:Press center9 click:174order

A family who reunited in Kent after fleeing Ukraine said they were stunned by the hospitality of their neighbours.

Sasha, eight, and her nine-year-old cousin Vika were forced to hide in the basement of their apartment building in Kharkiv as bombs fell.

Meanwhile their mother, Nataliia Gaidarenko, was in Sevenoaks.

She said she and her family were "so grateful" after a neighbour offered a spare room for her relatives, adding: "There's no words to say thank you."

After Sasha and Vika were evacuated by train to Calais with their grandparents, Ms Gaidarenko began the process of applying for a UK visa.

When Ms Gaidarenko's local community found out her family were being evacuated, they didn't hesitate to offer their help.

"Nataliia was just damp for a week, weeping. It was dreadful," neighbour Chris Kennett said.

"She said they were all coming, so I said, 'if you need a room, I've got one', and that was that."

Ms Gaidarenko's mother Olha said despite rumours of an invasion, she had hoped a war would not begin.

"We just can't believe it is possible that our brothers have attacked us," she said.

Vika added: "I miss my home. I just want to go back and hug my dog."

Elsewhere, train operator Southeastern named a train "Spirit of Ukraine" at a ceremony to mark the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion.

They say it marks the "friendships and connections" formed between the 4,000 Ukrainians who have settled in the area Southeastern serves - which includes Kent, East Sussex and south east London.

It also acknowledges the "enormous efforts" of Ukrainian Railways who say they have evacuated up to four million people - including one million children - to safety.

The ceremony included a performance from the Canterbury 4 Ukraine Women's Choir.

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(editor-in-charge:Press center8)

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