Story
24 May 2023
By:
  • Anna Pochtarenko | Public Information Assistant

Tyn nad Vltavou is a small town of about 8,000 inhabitants, with a well-preserved medieval urban centre in the South of Czechia.

A year ago, a factory dormitory, Ubytovna Blatnice, was converted into a collective accommodation centre and is currently hosting over 60 refugees from Ukraine. Most of them are mothers with children and elderly persons.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has supported the centre with washing and drying machines, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, kitchen equipment and other domestic appliances.

Natalia and her family have found a safe place in the dormitory IOM supported to be equipped.

Natalia is a 63-year-old school mathematics teacher from Mykolayiv, Ukraine. Together with her husband, daughter and two grandchildren, they occupy a two-room unit in the dormitory.

When the full-scale invasion of Ukraine started, Natalia’s daughter and two grandchildren fled to Czechia. Natalia remembers the day in early March 2022 when she saw her grandchildren off: “It was 5 o’clock in the morning when the car came to pick them up. As they were about to get into the car, a Russian plane approached us and started to shoot. We lay on the ground trembling with fear. The plane was so close that we could see the pilot’s face. Of course, he could see us, an old woman and two children, but he kept shooting…” That moment left a deep mark on her grandchildren.

Natalia and her husband decided to stay in their hometown, but the missile attacks soon became so severe that their apartment got damaged, and the basement was no longer a secure shelter. When the elderly couple arrived in Czechia in April 2022, there were already so many refugees that finding a room was almost impossible. First, they were accommodated two hours away from their daughter and grandchildren. Natalia is thankful to Lucie Dudková from Tyn nad Vltavou municipality and the volunteers who helped the family re-unite in Ubytovna Blatnice.

Back in Ukraine, Natalia’s daughter used to teach at Mykolayiv University. Now she is a kitchen worker, doing nightly shifts at the Temelín Nuclear Power Station nearby Tyn nad Vltavou.

Natalia’s children continue with their modeling hobby even in the dormitory in Czechia

Natalia volunteers to help Ukrainian children with math and take care of her grandchildren. She is proud of them: “My boys are fond of modelling and sculpting and have won international competitions. They are getting famous. Their bright sculptural compositions, full of life and imagination, are even mentioned in a book called ‘The Red Book of Ukraine’!“

Plasticine and clay are expensive, and children often get dirty while working on their compositions, but Natalia does her best to support their hobbies and self-expression. “Children must have the opportunity to develop their talents, no matter what. Even if they don’t choose to be artists, modelling skills are necessary for many decent jobs, such as dental technician. I heard that European universities have grants for gifted children like them,” says Natalia.

Natalia: “My boys are fond of modelling and sculpting and have won international competitions. They are getting famous. Their bright sculptural compositions, full of life and imagination, are even mentioned in a book called ‘The Red Book of Ukraine’!“

Iryna

While many of the collective accommodation centre residents are from Eastern and Southern Ukraine, where shelling and mine accidents happen every day, pensioners Iryna and Volodymyr come from Kyiv. When the war broke out in Ukraine, they did not hesitate for too long about where to go. Iryna is proud of her Czech roots – her great-grandfather’s family moved to Kyiv in the late 19th century, so it just came naturally that the couple would go to Czechia.

For Iryna and her husband Volodymyr, both professional musicinas, it was not easy to get use to the quiet town Týn nad Vltavou.

Both musicians and performers, Iryna and her husband found it hard at first to adapt to the quiet Tyn nad Vltavou. They missed their life in the busy and culturally rich Kyiv. In October 2022, the couple decided to return to Kyiv. Soon upon their arrival, a Russian missile fell right in front of their house. “We were horrified,” says Iryna. “It was a sign that it was too early to come back home, so the following day we bought tickets and returned to Tyn nad Vltavou.”

The room they occupy now at Ubytovna Blatnice has the same number as their house in Kyiv. The collective accommodation centre has become their second home. They feel grateful to the Czech people, volunteers and everyone who has helped them feel like home.

IOM’s support to the Ubytovna Blatnice collective community centre is made possible through funding from the United States of America – Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM).