Rome Catholic university hosts Ukrainian refugees

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This is the Niccolò Cusano University in Rome.

Normally people come here to study, but right now it is full of Ukrainian children playing. 

Vice President Board of Directors, Unicusano
We have, between adults and children, about eighty people living with us. We have converted a classroom into a playroom like this one. We have also assigned classrooms for school-age children to continue their studies. And we are trying to help get some of them into the workforce.

A few days after the war began, the university allocated one million euros to send materials to Ukraine and to make its headquarters a safe place for refugees. It invested another million in 300 scholarships for Ukrainian students who want to continue or start their studies. The university is still accepting donations on their website. 

The Basilica of Santa Sofia in Rome is helping the university host students. It serves as a reference for Ukrainian Catholics in Rome. The Church is very close to the university campus and it is where those who need the most care are welcomed. 

One of them is Alona. She is 28 years old, and this is the second time she has had to leave her home. First, she fled from Donbas to Kyiv, then, from Kyiv to Rome. She is afraid of having to pack her bags a third time.

Ukrainian refugee in Rome
It has been very difficult, but I was already prepared. I can't believe this is the second time it's happened to me. I don't understand why this is happening. It happened before and I'm afraid it will happen again.

There are no men above a certain age among the refugees because those between the ages of 18 and 60 are banned from leaving Ukraine and are expected to fight. Natalia and her two young children were able to escape, but they had to leave their family behind. 

Ukrainian refugee in Rome
I want to go back because my parents and relatives are there. I hope to get back to normal. Me to work, my children to school, to their environment, to be able to play with their friends. We are looking forward to going back. But in the meantime, we are studying Italian because we don't know how this will end.

Natalia is happy to see her children safe and is working in the university kitchen trying to learn Italian.

She is very grateful for the help from the university and the resources that they continue to give with such generosity. 

Vice President of the Board of Directors, Unicusano
I believe that the humanitarian relief machine must be set in motion when these situations arise. In this century, it is absolutely insane to talk about war.

No one knows what will happen to these families – whether they will return to Ukraine or start a new life in Italy. But what they can look forward to is continuing to receive help along the way.



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