Ukrainians Learn Portuguese in The Interior of São Paulo

Refugee families were welcomed by the church of São José dos Campos

São Paulo

"Black beans, carioca beans, rice, cornmeal." Gathered around packages of food arranged on a table, with papers that simulate real bills in their hands, a group of Ukrainians repeat the names of foods in Portuguese, the prices and the units of measurement.

The volunteer teacher's objective is to teach them how to go to the market to shop, and they end the afternoon saying phrases like "I want half a kilo of oranges."

There are 13 adults and 11 children and adolescents who arrived in Brazil at the end of March, refugees from the war in their country of origin.

Christians, they were rescued with the help of an evangelical missionary network and are in São José dos Campos, in the interior of São Paulo, welcomed by a local church.

With the exception of a man over 60, there are only women among the adults. They left husbands, brothers and children over 18 years old in Ukraine, where they cannot leave because they can be called up to fight.

The memory of what was left behind worries and hurts, but the atmosphere of the class is relaxed.

"It's very difficult because our hearts are still there, but they [the Brazilians who hosted the group] always try to divert our memory to good things," says Olga Ponomarenko, 41.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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