Luisa Ita (text and photos) and Karin Frautschi (video)
They fled to Switzerland almost two months ago with only three backpacks filled with papers and a few snacks: mother Nina Gryzenko (49) and her two four children, Mykyta Gryzenko (9) and Angelina Kovaltchyk (12). A Ukrainian family from Pokrosko, a city 80 kilometers from Donetsk, barely escaped death in their native country.
Meanwhile, refugees who come from very poor backgrounds live with a host family in Wynau BE. For that they are eternally grateful. But since arriving in Switzerland, two children have dreamed of seeing the Alps at least once in their lives. “Ukraine has mountains, but our parents had to work a lot and therefore we have never been able to go to the mountains before,” explains Angelina’s heart’s desire in her native language, which the translator translates.
“I’m so excited”
Blick found out about the dream of the refugee children and made it come true. The family should see not only any mountain, but the most famous of all Swiss peaks – the Matterhorn. On a hot May Sunday, it was finally time and the family took the train to Valais. After a surprise party from the Fame Dance Company of Visp VS, you can hear the hum of the rotor blades in the distance.
“I’m very excited,” says Mykyta. His eyes light up as he stands on the private Blackrock Lofts helipad in Stalden VS, over which the Alpine Helicopters pilot flies. Both companies offered the family a flight. “Hurray, hurray!”, The Ukrainian shouts and jumps up excitedly.
Snowball fight and beaming faces
Mother Nina and teen Angelina are happy too, but the fear is written on their faces. “We’ve never flown in our life,” they explain. They are shy, reserved and nervous. But they both beat each other and board the helicopter – the expectation that they will finally see the mountains is greater than the fear of flying.
Mykyta can’t help but be amazed: “My whole body is swarming.” The young pilot flies close to the Matterhorn and Angelina is also impressed: “The mountains are so high, but we are even higher.” During the intermediate landing on Unterrothorn, children play in the snow and throw snowballs, Angelina’s sneakers get stuck in deep snow and has to fish them out. But even wet shoes do not spoil the joy.
Upon his return, the teenager’s previously sad face suddenly brightened. She smiles, talks more and seems happier. Her mother cries for gratitude, but also says, “We wish the circumstances were different. The price we had to pay to experience this is very high. ”
With these words, reality catches up with the Ukrainian family and they start talking about their escape. “Our house was bombed and we knew we couldn’t stay anymore,” says Angelina, and she also bursts into tears. “I will never forget what I saw there.” The family gave up their former lives, and many relatives and friends also stayed. Angelina and Mykyta’s brother is fighting at the front and the fear for him is huge.
An unforgettable day
Moreover, many things in Switzerland are so different than at home. “You eat a lot of vegetables that we don’t even know,” says the boy. All three are sure that the family will at some point want to go home: “But it could take years.” Until then, they want to integrate as well as possible and learn German quickly.
They couldn’t have done better with the host family, says Nina’s mother, “They are amazingly nice people!” The Bernese married couple will take care of them touchingly. And: “We thank Blick for allowing us to see the mountains. We have been able to forget about our worries for a while and one day we will come back home with this experience in our hearts. ”