On Easter Sunday we had the most beautiful Easter dinner ever in the garden of Palmela. The communities in the south of Portugal (Fonte da Prata, Lisboa and Palmela) joined with the Ukrainian families who have been living here for some weeks.

There was a family atmosphere of people who have journeyed together, bound together in the hope for peace. “Christ risen, truly risen” Victoria said to us. This phrase took on a special meaning for us because she said it in Ukrainian

The previous night, some of them had been in the Vigil with us, and with the group of young people from here, had experienced the Paschal Triduum. They were able to follow the readings with the help of the online translator. They listened to the songs in a language that they did not know but they felt intensely the joy of the Risen One.

One of the families has been here with us for a month. There are nine in the family.

The father of the family is 35 years old; he came with his wife and 2 children, aged 10 and 7. They escaped from the first bomb that fell on Kyiv. In about 15 minutes they gathered some things and got into the car and fled. With them came the grandmother, age 53. They were able to cross the border with Poland 20 minutes before the passage of martial law which would have obliged the father to remain in Ukraine. His brother stayed, and also his father, his grandfather and his sister. They decided and managed to leave.

After having spent some days in a bunker, their sister-in-law joined them along with her two children aged 9 and 6, and their 56 year old grandmother.

Two weeks ago another family arrived: father, mother and two young sons. They are working and stayed only the time needed to rent a house.

Many friends help us to welcome them, donating money, food and clothing.

Here they find peace, or at least they are far from the war. The children have online classes with their teachers who are also outside Ukraine.

We are happy to be able to have them here in this “paradise”, with spring heralding Life. They cried when they arrived. It was the first time that they had ever seen orange trees. They feel welcome, loved, safe.

The other day they cooked some of their most typical dishes; they sang their songs and gave us a bracelet in the colors of their flag.

We are becoming family, bonded together in this hope for peace.

Community of Palmela