Scenery east of the town of Trai Mat near Da Lat, Vietnam.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Da Lat, Vietnam.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Not sure yet!

Friday, April 29, 2022

Just one family's story

There is a refugee family from Ukraine staying in the guesthouse here where Max is parked. The guesthouse does meals as well, and we decided to have dinner yesterday. We were asked if we wanted to sit at the same table together, and we did.

So yesterday afternoon our host Gabriel grilled a whole bunch of meat over an open fire... sausage, chicken, and beef... and we had a feast!

And we met Oleksii, Oeena, Veadiseav, and Oleksii Junior. They are just a typical Ukrainian family from the city of Mykolaiv on the south coast about 100 kms (60 miles) east of Odesa.

They don't speak any English, but google translate allowed us to have some conversation. It's not ideal, but it allowed us to get to know each other a bit, as well as having a few laughs when the translation didn't come out as expected.

They are in their late 30's and have a 15 year daughter, a 10 year old son, and a 9  month old son. They own a clothing store in a shopping mall in the city. 

When it became apparent that things were going to get dangerous, they made the difficult decision to leave. They moved all of the stock from the store to their private house. They moved his mother and grandfather (age 92) from their apartment building to their private home where they thought they would be safer. They said that the grandfather could not be moved any further, and his mother wanted to stay with her father.

Veadiseav, Oeena, Oleksii, our host Gabriel, and Kevin.
(Oldest daughter, Veronika didn't join us for dinner).

They left Ukraine April 5th, when Russian troops damaged a water supply line to the city. They did a difficult drive to Poland where their 15 year old daughter was in training as a world class kayaker. We never asked why, but they then drove through Slovakia and Hungary and into Romania. It could be that this is pretty much as close as they can get to home and still be safe.

They showed us photos and videos that have been sent to them from home. The shopping mall where their store was has been badly damaged. So far, their private home is still okay, but shelling is very random and it's not really safe.

Here is a news comment from yesterday that mentions their city... "Mykolaiv was again hit by Smerch multiple rocket launchers. Dozens of private households, cars and shops were damaged. Cluster munitions covered playgrounds and schoolyards. Information about the victims is being clarified," the South operational command said.

Baby Oleksii Junior playing with his older brother.

Our host Gabriel had advertised his property through the Ukrainian refugee program as a highly discounted or free stay. This family is very lucky to have found him. 

They know that many countries around the world would accept them as refugees. But they don't want that. They liked their previous life in Ukraine and they want to go back home. They are hoping to return to Mykolaiv as soon as possible.

Before they left, they stockpiled as much water in the house as they could. Water supply is now dry to their house where his mother and grandfather are living, but a neighbor is apparently helping them.

In the meantime, all they can do is wait. But at least they are being well fed... did I mention that we had a feast??

Too much food!

If you ever want to have a rural holiday in Romania, this is the place you want to come to!

What a terrible thing to have to go through. And this is just one family's story. There are hundreds of thousands (millions?) of people in the same situation. 


  1. Thanks so much Kevin and Ruth for sharing about this family.
    The war and its consequences don't seem possible. Meeting this family makes it very real.
    Stay safe.

    1. I wish that we had a different story to tell about this family but unfortunately this is their life at the moment and so many others. We are happy to have met them and hopefully one day we will be able to visit them at their house in Ukraine.

      We hope that peace will come to their country soon and that they can return home again to their families.

  2. Oh, mamaliga and mici... such Romanian food! How comforting that must be for all the guests in this special house. And especially in time of war.

    1. Delicious Romanian food! It was so nice to eat with these nice people, it felt like sitting down to a family meal with everyone.

  3. Thank you for sharing this families story. It so very sad what is happening. We send best wishes to them and to the wonderful host. Be safe

    1. It really is sad what is happening back in their home country. We feel so bad for them. We will pass along your wishes to them.


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