Viola has taken in three refugees in her house on Bennekelstraat. “We do it together; the whole neighborhood has helped out.”
Viola van Alphen is one of the Eindhoven residents who has taken in Ukrainian refugees in her house in the Bennekel. Sacha and Olga, are two elderly ladies from Kiev. They are now living on the second floor. Olga’s daughter has taken up residence in the attic. With her 16-year-old cat, who also fled from Kiev.
“I happened to know Anna from before,” says Viola. “I said a few weeks ago: come here! At first, she didn’t want to, later she asked if only her mother could come. And then everyone came, also fine.” Olga felt quite insecure in the beginning. “We didn’t know what to expect, with a host family from a foreign culture in the house. What should we do, how should we behave?” says Olga. But so far it is not so bad; the atmosphere in the house is fine.
Viola is also trying to find a way to spend the day. An appeal on Faceboook has already resulted in several outings. The group is also taken to Emmaus to buy some free clothes.
Between the second-hand furniture, more stories emerge, about the days-long journey to the border, crammed together on a train. And about the men, they left behind. Anna tearfully tells of trying to reach her husband every day and failing the last time.
Distraction is the magic word in this kind of heartbreaking situation, so Viola takes the ladies to the communal garden of the Emmaus. Although the war is not so far away there either: the residents have hung up a Ukrainian flag as a show of support.
Translation: Chaitali Sengupta. She also gives online INBURGERING classes.