By Svitlana Dukhovych
When you meet them, they seem to have known each other already for years.
Both have a common vision of curiosity and confidence with which they view the world. Adriana, a 13-year-old, lives in Rome with an Italian-Swiss father and a Ukrainian mother. Margherita, 12, is the daughter of Ukrainian refugees who fled the war when it began.
When speaking of their newfound friendship, formed during the “Youth in the Vatican” summer camp, it is clear that while they enjoy having a good time together, they also understand that friendship can be used as a way to help others.
The Birth of a Bond
Despite still learning Italian, Margherita has nonetheless managed to get along well with the other children at the summer camp, using the few Italian and English words she knows.
Everything changed when she met Adriana, who speaks both Italian and Ukrainian (as well as German and English).
"I was going to the pool and I heard that someone behind me was speaking in Ukrainian," she says, "and I understood what she was saying. The person next to her didn't understand, so I turned around and translated what Margherita was saying to the friend next to me. And then Margherita asked me: 'Do you know Ukrainian?' So we talked, we got to know each other and now we are friends."
Three “incredible” weeks
For Margherita, the participation in the "Summer Youth in the Vatican" program was particularly important: many of her relatives and friends stayed in Ukraine and she remains in constant contact with them.
When reflecting on the situation, she can barely hold back her tears. "If I had stayed locked in the house here in Italy, I would have thought so much about Ukraine; instead this way I got distracted," she confides. "These three weeks have been wonderful and fun, and I've been able to take my mind off the war and experience normality."
The hope to visit Ukraine
Adriana knows what is happening in Ukraine from the stories of her mother’s relatives living in the country that has been invaded by the Russian army. She says she has not been able to visit them for three years: first because of the pandemic, and now because of the brutal ongoing war.
She also regrets not being able to practice her language, as she only speaks Ukrainian there and therefore manages to improve her language significantly. "I hope the war will end soon," she says.
"Thank you," is the word that, despite her young age, Margaret knows well, and she repeats it to her new friend, to her summer camp classmates, and to everyone who has made her life and her family's life more peaceful.