This is how Ukrainian children start school in Dresden

School is a great progress. “They went out and laughed again,” Elena Romanushko describes her experience with her children in the early days. Laughing is difficult for the family right now. You have been in Dresden since March 5th. On the run from the war instigated by Russian President Vladimir Putin, they had previously spent two days in Ukraine, then for days by train through Poland to Dresden.

“The train was so full of people there was no place to sit.” The children slept on the floor. Elena Romanushko, her son Daniel and daughter Dasha were able to spend their first day in Dresden in a hotel. Then the “Bridges Making” initiative took over.

The old network works

“The network was created in 2015/16, it is still active today and also takes care of this family, among other things,” explains Anja Apel. First of all, bridges should be built between people who wanted to welcome refugees and those who viewed it critically. Network North later developed from this, which now also takes care of seniors, school locations and other things. Meanwhile, the focus has turned back to refugees. “There is interest in the quarters every day,” says Apel.

The councilor of the Greens Ulrike Caspary also belongs to the network. Dasha, Daniel and Elena Romanushko have found refuge in a small vacation home belonging to their family.

Apel, a left-wing city councilor, is a teacher at the Free Alternative School Dresden (FAS) in Stauffenbergallee. After consulting with the team, she took the children to school. “We have many other requests,” Apel says, describing the situation. But even the FAS has limited capabilities and already has a long waiting list.

courtesy of the school

The Ukrainian family does not have to pay school fees or meals. There are now individual German lessons. Apel has recruited a longtime colleague for this. Angela Finsterbusch, a teacher of English and Russian, is retired, but on Tuesday she gave the first lesson for refugees. With their translations and a mixture of English and Russian, she starts with small steps and also through the interview for this article.

Occasionally a smile crosses the faces of the refugees. But you can clearly see how much energy it takes. Thoughts of home weigh too much, where the husband and father remained with their son and older brother. “My husband doesn’t want to leave, he wants to help in our country,” said Elena Romanushko. He guides refugees from the Kiev area, where the families live, on the border with Ukraine, the eldest son arranges the trips. Men between the ages of 18 and 60 are currently not allowed to leave the country.

Difficult contact with the house

It’s hard to keep in touch by phone, bad stories come to Germany. There is talk of the nearby front, of the hail of bombs, which also led to the decision to flee within a few hours. There are reports of Russian soldiers shooting at everything. There is also talk of deaths in the circle of acquaintances. “People face tanks with nothing.”

“My husband probably doesn’t tell me everything, he wants to take it easy with me,” believes 45-year-old Elena Romanushko. He is a doctor and has worked for the past five years in a polyclinic, which is now known in Germany as a medical center. She also keeps in touch with patients over the phone. He has diagnostic data sent to his cell phone, analyzes it and gives him advice. If he had a solution for the language barrier, he would also work as a doctor here in Dresden. Thousands of Ukrainian refugees are likely to need a gastrointestinal specialist.

Incredible situation for the 21st century

This could also help the mother of the three children to cope with the incredible situation. She never imagined this would ever happen. “I still can’t believe it to this day,” she says. Her son nods: “Incredible.” “It is incomprehensible that this is possible in the 21st century,” says her mother of her.

A friend’s daughter is studying in Dresden and advised her to come here too. The young woman went to pick her up at the train station. In the meantime they got to know the city better. They have been several times at the Mathematical-Physical Exhibition of the State Art Collections.

Science is Daniel’s passion. He is almost 14 years old and is in the eighth grade. “His level in math is much better,” says teacher Apel. Maybe he’d be better off on Manos, he adds. He wants to ask what is possible for Daniel at the Martin-Andersen-Nexö-Gymnasium (Manos), known for his extensive mathematical and scientific training.

Just a warm wish

Her little sister causes a stir in the study group. “She gave everyone else a strong urge to speak English,” Apel reports. The eight-year-old said school was “cool”. “She’s fine,” says her mother. “Bombs don’t fall here, everything is fine there.” Dasha would like to become a sports gymnastics instructor someday, so she is already training again here in Dresden. Daniel doesn’t have much to do with sports. He is happier with the keyboard that the northern Dresden networkers have provided him with so that he can continue playing the piano.

So far, the whole family has been looked after by the people around them. “We share it,” explains Anja Apel, also on financial matters, and she shrugs: how else is it supposed to work, that’s pretty much what it means. There are no other sources yet. It is clear to everyone that the stay in Dresden could last a long time. The family’s dearest wish is another. Dasha can speak for everyone: “I want to go home”.

By Ingolf Pleil

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