Gbolahan Bada (Jibi) and Jesuniyi Omoiyin (Ni) met on the train from Ukraine to Budapest.
They both left Nigeria for a distant, Ukrainian university. Jibi had been studying in Kharkiv for five years and Ni for only five months when war broke out, and they suddenly had to flee. Valaszonline.hu made a heartfelt interview with the two young men, as well as László Szávay, the man who gave them shelter.
When they got off at Nyugati station, they had no idea where they were going to spend the night. Just then, they were approached by some Hungarian men.
One of them was László Szávay, who used to be a figure in Hungarian politics. He immediately offered accommodation to the two Nigerians who had fled from Ukraine.
Ni says that before he started studying at the Ukrainian university, he worked in customer service at a digital bank in Nigeria. After a while, he decided to study to earn more money. He says the cold weather in Ukraine surprised him the most.
he has never experienced temperatures below 20 degrees Celsius before, but in Ukraine, it was 5 degrees when he arrived.
Before going to Ukraine to study medicine, he spent his civilian service on a chicken farm in Nigeria.
When asked whether they felt the tension between Ukrainian and Russian residents in Kharkiv, Jibi said that they did and were worried about the escalation. The young man was only a few months away from his final exams when the war broke out.
“At five in the morning on 24 February, someone banged on the door of our dormitory room. My roommate opened it. The person said that there was a war going on, there was shooting, we should be ready when the sirens started, we had to go down to the basement. There, it was decided that we had to get out of here. There were no more planes, we had to take the train,”
Jibi and Ni had never met before, they met on the train to Hungary. Ni’s university is supposedly still intact, Jibi’s university has already been destroyed by the Russians. The young man’s birth certificate was also destroyed.
When valaszonline.hu asked the two men if they had imagined that they would find themselves in the middle of a war in Europe, Jibi replied that, coming from a safe city, Lagos, he was shocked by the outbreak of war.
Thanks to his ancestors’ stories, László Szávay knew exactly what it meant when the “Russians were coming”, which is why he decided to help some refugees.
Together with some friends, they founded the Palm House Charity and went to Nyugati Railway Station to help.
Szávay added that they have not yet discussed how long the young Nigerians will stay with him. He says as long as they need to.
“When we arrived that Monday night, we thought we would have to sleep on a bench at the station. In comparison, everyone helped, selflessly. We slept in a bed the first night. Thank you very much!”