Greek school welcomes Ukrainian children who fled war

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By Richard Good  & Apostolos Staikos
A classroom in Greece
A classroom in Greece   -   Copyright  euronews

When it was announced that Ukrainian children would join their school in Greece, teachers decided to talk with students about the war and what it means to be a refugee.

"The Greek children offered gifts to their new classmates, paintings and all their love," said Athina Pirgaki, a teacher at the school in Athens.

Oleksiy and Kostantyn, who are in primary school, fled the Ukrainian city of Kolomyia with their mother six weeks ago, leaving their father behind to fight.

"The two brothers were a little shocked because they suddenly found themselves in the spotlight. They entered a new environment and at first, they felt like little fish out of water."

Their grandmother, Oksana Rovenchok, immigrated from Ukraine to Greece 25 years ago.

She could never have imagined that one day she would welcome her daughter and her two grandchildren as war refugees.

"We live in very difficult times. I can describe our lives in three words: bombings, misery, refugees. Nobody expected that something like this could happen in 2022. We are in deep pain and we cry for our country," said Rovenchok.

Iryna, the boys' mother, feels reassured and says her kids are quite happy in their new school and that they even made new friends.

Teachers are asking Greece's education ministry to hire Ukrainian-speaking teachers for at least two classes a week.

In the last two months, Greek schools have registered more than 450 children from Ukraine.