It is the ninth day in which tears, death and destruction reign in Ukraine after the invasion of the country at the hands of Russian troops. A devastating situation that has awakened an entire wave of solidarity. Entities and individuals approach the points that have enabled the capital and the municipalities of Malaga to deposit humanitarian aid. In addition, many families are opening the doors of their homes to welcome the refugees who are arriving – there are already more than a million citizens who have already left Ukraine to save their lives.

This is the case of Araceli Meneses and Manuel Sancheza married couple residing in San Pedro Alcantara (Marbella)who awaits with open arms the arrival of nine ukrainians. Two elderly people, two adults and five children -one of them disabled- who, after several days sleeping in the open, are now in some tents on the border with Romania. On Tuesday they plan to take the bus to Spain.

Meanwhile, Meneses makes an appeal on his social networks so that, whoever can, contribute financially or donate clothing and food. “They come with nothing, with just what they are wearing”, the Mint. Anyone who is willing to contribute can go to the Javier Quero Estilistas hairdressing salon, located at number 9 Badajoz Street (San Pedro Alcántara), and deposit the aid there. In addition, he asks the administrations and associations to also focus their efforts on providing aid for the refugees who are arriving in Spain.

A charismatic gesture that is not the first time that Araceli Meneses performs. Born in Seville, this mother of four has been involved with the Ukrainian community for three years. It all started when she decided to help some schoolmates of her recently arrived children -Vadymyr and Lisa Kurish-. “They didn’t speak Spanish and they had sad faces,” she says. She remembers that she encouraged Manuel – her second son – to come over and play with the new boy when she told him about the situation. In addition, she confesses that she even began to prepare snacks for her little ones to give them at recess.

During that first week, Araceli and María Arseniuk – the mother of Vladymyr and Lisa – began to have conversations with the help of the mobile translator. The Sevillian lent herself to buy the school supplies they needed to the children of the Ukrainian family recently landed in Spain. In addition, she offered to pick them up from school while the older sister -Anastasia- left school, since Maria works all day doing housework in the home of a Russian family.

Over time, Araceli enrolled Vladymyr and Lisa in extracurricular activities (to which her children also attended), which has caused the little ones to spend most of the day at home. “We just need to register the child in my house”, the Sevillian jokes referring to Vava -that’s how they affectionately call Vladymyr-. And it is that -she relates- the child goes on vacation with the family from Malaga and spends practically every weekend with them.

Since February 24, with the first news of the invasion of Ukraine, Maria and her husband, Ivan, have been restless. Although she practically has no family in the country, he has her parents, sisters and five nephews, who try -relentlessly- cross the border and join his family in Spain.

María and Iván asked Araceli and Manuel help. They, without thinking, accepted. As soon as they set foot in San Pedro, the Spanish family will welcome two children and Vava into their home, to act as translator; Iván’s two sisters and a child with reduced mobility will spend the night in the Spanish family’s motorhome, and his parents will go home to their son’s house.

This Ukrainian family has experienced moments of nervousness and despair, since the children did not have the necessary passports to be able to ride the bus. A situation that led Manuel and Araceli to consider yesterday taking their vehicle and traveling for them until, yesterday, they were informed that they already had everything in order and, with it, a date to start the trip. “I don’t know why they have helped me so much from the beginning. It’s good”expresses María with difficulty due to the elementary knowledge she has of Spanish.

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