Victoria Malona, her mum Lillia, 38, dad Vitalii and her little sister Ilona, six, are expected to be among the first refugees to arrive in the UK next week. They have been offered accommodation near Hull
A scared 14-year-old Ukrainian teenager has sent a WhatsApp message to a British family to say: “Thank you for giving us an opportunity to live in a safe country”.
Victoria Malona, her mum Lillia, 38, dad Vitalii and her little sister Ilona, six, are expected to be among the first refugees to arrive in the UK next week.
They have been offered accommodation at Sabrina and Tony Edge’s home in Driffield near Hull, former Londoners who moved up north with their three daughters – Emily, 19, Maddie, 16, and Kitty, 11, where they could live in a bigger home.
“The girls have started a WhatsApp group and when we saw this message we were all quite sad after reading it,” Sabrina said.
“She shouldn’t thank us – I just imagined my daughters being in that situation.”
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English teacher Lillia and her husband, who is a builder, fled their home in Mogilev-Podolsky on February 24 as bombs rained down on their country, crossing over the border to Moldova to stay with family.
But they are still living in terror, just a mile away from the Ukraine and can still hear the bombs falling.
She said: “The Government really needs to do more to fast track this scheme, as the situation is getting more dangerous as time goes on. We need to get them out of there.
“There is just a river and a bridge between Moldova and Ukraine. There’s no food in the supermarkets, they can hear the bombs and hear the sirens.
“The Russian troops have been on the Moldova border too and they don’t know what their intentions are.
“They don’t feel safe at all. Lillia’s been going home to get more belongings and her children de ella have been asking: ‘Mummy is our house still there?’ Mummy is our school still there?
“It is also not safe for the family in Moldova, the neighbors are all very pro-Russia, due to endless propaganda. Petrol is running low and it is three hours’ drive to the airport. And they need to be as far away as possible.
“As Liliia speaks English, this is the best place for her to be, and she is spending all of her time teaching her family English too.”
Sabrina made the decision to help by offering their two spare rooms after getting in contact with a charity that puts hosts together with refugee families.
The British family have now registered with the Homes For Ukraine site so they could make the move official and are willing to host the family ‘for as long as they need’.
She said: “I am very frightened for the family, I have four children myself, and I just could not fathom having to flee my country to protect my family.
“A few weeks ago, Liliia was making Valentine’s Day decorations with her pupils at her school in Ukraine, and now everything is being destroyed.
“Liliia hasn’t slept in five days, and can barely eat. To put your life in a suitcase must be impossible.
“Their home, business, and livelihood have been destroyed, but not their future.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.