“It’s amazing!” smiles mother, who ‘never expected’ such a “wonderful place”
Every day Portugal, the Portuguese and quite a few expat foreigners, are bringing more and more Ukrainian refugees into Portugal: many are on the roads to and from Poland now, either on their way to or on their way back from collecting exhausted, traumatised mothers and young children, intent on leading them to a haven from Russian bombardments.
Lusa news agency reports authorities have already granted 8,250 requests for temporary protection as a result of this hideous war.
To give an idea how fast requests are forming, the figure stood at 6,178 by the end of Friday.
SEF’s online platform, to which refugees from Ukraine (whatever their nationality) will need to begin the process, is up online in three languages ‘SEFforUkraine.sef.pt’, taking people through the bureaucratic steps they need in order to be fully protected by the State health system and labour market.
Meantime, there are multiple ‘heartwarming stories’ emerging of hospitality offered/ help given when those receiving it never imagined strangers speaking a language they don’t even understand could respond so generously.
One such story has been covered by SIC television news in the Douro.
The Warren household, who run a rural tourism business, told SIC they “can’t comprehend what these people are going through, so, anything we can do to help…”
And help they have, giving the Rubstov family of four a “wonderful place” within their quinta where parents Natacha and Andreii will now be able to set about trying to reorganise their family’s lives.
Their children are of school age; both adults able to work. A home, a safe base was all they needed – and now they have it.
This story is just one of many happening a little all over Portugal as people everywhere are opening their homes and/or giving up possibilities of income from tourism to make the necessary difference in a humanitarian outrage.
As the Ukrainian businessman who managed to fly 267 Ukrainians to Portugal last week said on air: “Portugal is a very little country but it has a very big heart” – and this is being shown day after day as people who have never had very much open their hearts and doors to people who now have next to nothing.
The Warren’s have already done their bit for Portugal during the pandemic – opening their premises as accommodation for nurses.
Says SIC, they are just one of the households in the Douro that are helping local authorities take care of busloads of Ukrainians who have either arrived, or are expected shortly.
The logistics are enormous, and schools are having to be prepared to take in the sudden influx of children who don’t speak a word of Portuguese and are physically and mentally ‘shell-shocked’ by everything that has happened to them in truly horrendous 19 days.