My name is Maiia, I am Ukrainian from the city of Kramatorsk. When the war started, I came here to the Basque Country, to San Sebastian, with my daughter Polina, who is 16 years old. In Ukraine I worked in the Chamber of Commerce, I’m an economist, and I like my job. In Ukraine I had my little flat, I also have my mother and my brothers and sisters there. My city is not big and I walked to work. My daughter studied in high school, and she liked it. She also did dance (hip-hop) and went to English classes. Every weekend and in the holidays we went with my daughter to my mother’s village. She has a big garden, she likes to grow flowers and fruits and vegetables. We used to swim and sunbathe in the river of the village. I used to like living in Ukraine, it is my country.
I arrived here in March 2022. When we crossed the border a Ukrainian guy offered us a place in his van. I didn’t really know where to go, whether to Poland, or Germany… because I didn’t have any acquaintances anywhere. This guy was going to the Basque Country and he told us that the people are friendly and hospitable. When we arrived we stayed for a short time with another Ukrainian family. Just afterwards, through Loturak and the Loiolaetxea Association (member of SJM network), I was told that a family from San Sebastián had volunteered to take us in. We visited them and met Maite and Ricardo. They are my other family. I have a family in Ukraine and another Basque family now. I always tell God thank you, thank you, for this family, because they are very good. They are helping us a lot and explaining a lot to us. We practise Spanish and they support us a lot so that we learn.
Loturak is a very good initiative because they put us in contact with Maite and Ricardo, they have explained a lot to us, they support us in the appointments we have, they guide us with my daughter’s studies, the Spanish classes, etc.
The most difficult part of going to live with another family was at the beginning because of the language, because I didn’t understand anything. Before we started, I was worried about how we would speak together, but in less than two weeks we understood each other better. They told me not to worry, we talked, and with a little help from the translator, everything was easier. They always tell me a lot of words that reassure and encourage me. In the beginning, I was also worried about what it would be like to live together because, at the end of the day, it is their home and their life. And my daughter and I are in the middle. But they are a very open family and the only thing that was complicated was the language. Maite and Ricardo are optimistic, cheerful and affectionate, and that helps me. Also, this year I had a health operation and they have always been with me and supported me a lot.
Last year my daughter Polina was very worried about the war and about our family in Ukraine, but now she is happier because she has finished the 4th year of ESO (Secondary Education) and next year she is going to start an intermediate degree in administrative management and also study Spanish. We both want to study English as well as Spanish. Polina has many dreams for the future. And her dreams are here, in the Basque Country. We like the Basque Country, the people, the culture, the climate, the food, we like everything.
I also have several dreams. First of all, I want the war in Ukraine to end because I am worried about my family, all Ukrainian people, and how my homeland will be afterwards. I would also like to be able to work. And when I have a job, I can rent a small flat and little by little, my life will be happier. Now I know that it is very important to enjoy life because we don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Before the war my life was fine, I had my house, my job, I had my family nearby…
Now I want to enjoy life and meet other people.
Now I want to enjoy life and meet other people. Let’s see what the future holds.
I would also like my mother to be able to come to visit me for a week, so she can see how well I’m doing here and tell me that she likes my life in the Basque Country. When the war is over, and everything is better in Ukraine, I would also love for my host family to get to know Ukraine and see what a small but beautiful country it is, with a lot of nature, very funny, and also like here, very friendly and very also like here, very friendly and very hospitable.