An Italian hamlet of some 500 residents has welcomed 42 Ukrainian children and teenagers from an orphanage in the west of the war-torn country, accompanied by 10 carers. They arrived in the tiny locality of Migliano in the Tuscan municipality of Fosciandora a few days ago.
Originally from Lviv, the children arrived during the night on April 3 after having undertaken a days-long journey to flee the war. They were welcomed at the town’s Sanctuary of Maria Santissima della Stella and are being housed in its recently renovated accommodation. Local reports say one child is only 11 months old. They are expected to remain at least a few months in the hamlet or as long as it takes for the conflict in Ukraine to be resolved.
Local media reports that inhabitants of the village have come together to supply the children, who escaped from Ukraine with just a few personal possessions, with clothes, toys, games, books and art materials. As news site ANSA reports, “The structure adjacent to the sanctuary which is usually used for welcoming tourists is now a warehouse full of toys.”
The youngest members of the group have already begun to attend the local kindergarten and elementary school, where they are being helped to overcome the language barrier. In the kindergarten, a large colorful poster hangs on the wall with a drawing of boys and girls holding hands and the words “Welcome” in Italian and Ukrainian.
For the underpopulated village, which dates back to the 9th century, it is a delight to see the streets filled with children again. Italy’s rural towns and hamlets have been struggling with severe depopulation over the last decades as residents have left in droves to find work and better services in bigger towns and cities.
The residents of Migliano rarely get to celebrate the birth of a child in the village, so the small community has been overwhelmed with the presence of so many youngsters. “The initiative has touched the heart of the whole valley,” local newspaper La Nazione writes, “and immediately sparked an incredible movement of solidarity, gathering toys and essential items.”