Written by Marina Andreoli
Sharing a Peace of Home
Over 200,000 asylum seekers from Ukraine, mainly the elderly, women, and children, have entered the Czech Republic.
There’s no need to guess where Prague’s people stand on the matter. From the Metronome to Petrin tower, landmarks have blazed blue and yellow. Countless individuals volunteer time, goods, and money, or invite the displaced to a home where they can get back on their feet.
If you’re preparing to host, consider this practical advice when opening up your home to a refugee.
You’re likely to already expect a cultural and language barrier. Many hosts vouch that Google Translate is a useful aid—all Prague’s ex-pats certainly know it well! Alternatively, if you have the capacity, you could learn the basics with Duolingo, or even get out a notebook and draw pictures.
These people may feel others won’t be able to handle what they’re thinking about. However, talking heals, so try to get to know them as you would under different circumstances. Questions like ‘Could you tell me a bit about yourself?’ will help them open up in their own time. Another recovery tip is to process trauma with writing—so buy a notebook they can use when remembering events.
Touch of Home
Research Ukrainian culture—it will not only help you understand your guest but enrich your outlook. You’re embarking on a life-changing step for both of you so stay open to the richness of this shared experience. If you are able, source products they might be familiar with from home to provide a sense of stability.
After trauma, sudden and unpredictable noises can overwhelm a person. What are the sounds of your household? Try to think about balancing your noise levels- whether it’s the smoothie maker grinding ice, the loud rumble of a dryer, dogs barking, or a child that needs to get outside.
This looks different from household to household, so do the best you can to provide guests with a sense of their own space, to be used however they want. Show them where doors are, and try to organize keys or a system that they can come and go whenever they want to.
One of the most important things for all refugees is internet access. This is how they can stay in contact with loved ones who are still in Ukraine–so remember to let them know how to get online.
We all have strategies to soothe ourselves–this can be making/eating food, a walking routine, or some sort of ritual. What could this look like for your guest? Encourage them to take care of themselves—rest, eat, drink water, and sleep. Try to help them access ways that will help them soothe.
A sense of Purpose
These are capable people who have experienced crises. Some days, they might not want to get out of bed, but having the choice to contribute will help restore a sense of power. A good phrase for expressing thus freedom can be along the lines of “We usually take turns to cook here, we won’t mind at all if you want a turn too.”
Hosting is a meaningful way to help, guaranteed to change the lives of every household member. Just remember not to do it alone! Make sure you share your experience with trusted others and stay up to date with support offered by government and voluntary avenues.
For information on important updates on national lodging, transport, and humanitarian aid, please visit the Interior Ministry