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First Chernobyl, now war: the Ukrainian refugee welcomed back by her Italian foster family

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By  Luca Palamara
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Taisia
Taisia   -   Copyright  Credit: Euronews

Taisia first came to Italy when she was seven years old. 

A so-called Chernobyl child, she was sent to escape the invisible enemy of radioactivity from the world's worst nuclear disaster. 

Twenty-six years later, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, she is back with her son, seeking shelter once more with her foster family who first looked after her when she was a child.

Her Italian foster mother Anna told Euronews about the first time she ever met Taisia.

"We didn’t know her language, we didn’t know how to behave with her, nor what kind of food she would eat," she said.

"I opened the fridge and placed her in front of it. She grabbed two eggs with her tiny hands and then she made like this…so, I figured out she wanted some fried eggs.”

When I came here I had this feeling I was safe...

Taisia never lost contact with her Italian family, though never imagined she would need their help again.

"I thank them for hosting me again because things are difficult when you don’t know where to go, but when you have a place and a family to go to, that’s very good, especially for my child. He is very young and I didn’t want him to see what is happening now in Ukraine.

"When I came here I had this feeling I was safe, but then I thought about friends and relatives I left back there and I miss them. I feel like I want to go back there and see how they are doing. I am worried about all those who are still there,” Taisia said.

Taisia was among 55 refugees rescued by the municipality of Ercolano, the Red Cross and other voluntary associations. They went to the Ukrainian Hungarian border to pick them up.

"Our aim is to integrate the refugees into the social fabric of the city. We've set up healthcare support and the possibility for Ukrainian children to attend the school along with Italian children. I believe that welcoming Ukrainian refugees can be a great resource for our city and our territory,” said Ercolano's Mayor, Ciro Buonajuto.