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“I want to stay here until the end of my days.” Refugee children and young people integrated into Anadia’s school and football club – News

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Sava is 11 years old and is one of those children who arrived on the 7th in the municipality of Anadia, in the district of Aveiro.

Aunt Yelena Lopes, who has lived in Portugal for about two decades, took in Sava and her mother. The older sister remained in Ukraine.

The shyness of this boy, who is now in 4th grade at the Agrupamento de Escolas de Anadia, contrasts with the broad, proud smile of someone who, in a few days, can already read several sentences in Portuguese.

“The school is great, I have lots of friends and good teachers. People are not bad. Coming to Portugal was a good choice: thank you for having received me so well”, reads Sava.

No longer following the script he had written on paper, he stressed to the Lusa agency that he loves everything in Portugal.

“I want to stay here until the end of my days”, translated the aunt.

From Odessa, three brothers came to an aunt, living in the municipality of Anadia: 16-year-old Olena, 13-year-old Danilo and four-year-old Julia.

Their mother, the commander of the Odessa police, was the one who brought them to Portugal, after they had slept two nights in a basement and spent a week at the Moldovan border, at a friend’s house, hoping that the situation in Ukraine would improve.

After leaving her children safe, she returned to Ukraine, where her husband, a firefighter, had stayed to report for work.

“Here in Portugal, I feel safe, but I also worry about my parents. I know I have to learn Portuguese, even though I speak English, integrate and help my brothers, because we don’t know when we can go back to my parents,” Olena said.

Danilo recently celebrated his 13th birthday, already in Portugal and, although he is very worried about his parents and the war in Ukraine, he distracts himself doing what he loves the most: playing football.

He came from Odessa with little luggage, but he was carrying a bag with five kilograms of medals he won, in the last eight years, practicing this sport.

“Football is the most important thing in my life,” he stressed, adding that one day he would like to play for Benfica.

In Lusa, the director of the Agrupamento de Escolas de Anadia, Aníbal Marques Silva, explained that, of these five students, two were integrated into preschool classes, one in the 1st cycle and two in the 2nd cycle.

“We were concerned to prepare the reception, to make the socialization which they need. For this, we placed these students in classes where there were already students of the same nationality,” he described.

According to Aníbal Marques Silva, more than the academic aspect, this first phase is above all that of integration.

“Students who are already there, older and who speak Portuguese, will be mentors, accompanying them for greater efficiency in terms of integration,” he stressed.

Regarding the refugees who have arrived in the municipality, the mayor of Anadia, Teresa Cardoso, clarified that they are mainly Ukrainians who have already been to Portugal or who have family and friends here, where they were welcomed.

“The first concern is that they can go to the SEF [Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras] and obtain the necessary documents. If there is documentation, then it is integrated into schools, health services, social services, transport services, the use of public swimming pools or sports activities,” he concluded.

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