Ever since the Russian invasion of Ukraine threw normalcy out the window Indian restaurant Saathiya, located in the capital Kiev, provided food and shelter to many Ukrainians. Dozens of children, elderly people, homeless people, students and pregnant women have been accommodated in this restaurant.
Restaurant owner Manish Dave has provided food and shelter to more than 132 people so far. Dave, who came from Vadodara to Kiev in 2021, opened this restaurant in 2021 for Indian students in the country.
This restaurant opened in January and is located near a hostel for international students at the National Medical University of Bogomelets. Dave told the Washington Post“Everything was fine. Suddenly all these things happened here. There were fires, explosions, bombs. It was very scary. People are scared.”
He thought about opening his restaurant to civilians after a series of explosions. Dave noted, “A basement is a safe place. The place is so big, and I should help.
Initially, he reached out to students, who make up the majority of his clientele, and then asked people in need of shelter and/or food to contact him on social media. He posted: “If you don’t have a safe place to stay during this time, please go here.”
He also shared the address of his restaurant and added: “We will do our best to organize free food and stay within our capabilities. Stay united with Ukraine.
He added that they do not take money from people who have taken refuge in his restaurant. Instead, he asks them to help out with groceries.
Dave added: “We are like one family. We all bring things, not money. People donate rice, food and vegetables. We all contribute and share.
Natali Antontseva, a Ukrainian national who took refuge in the restaurant, spoke at length about her experience. She said that despite the limited space, the doors were open to everyone and we were offered hot tea and dinner. Antontseva added that she was happy for her pregnant friends who could sleep on a sofa instead of a cold floor.
She said, “I can’t express how happy we were when we walked into a clean, warm room with a lovely smell of Indian spaces. Despite the fact that there was not much space, the doors were open for everyone. They offered us hot tea and dinner. I was also happy for my pregnant friend who could sleep on a small couch instead of the cold basement floor we were in before.
He also noted that his family in India are worried and he hopes to stay in Ukraine for the time being. However, he plans to leave Ukraine if the crisis worsens. In such a case, Dave plans to hand over the keys to the refugees in the restaurant.
Also read: What is Operation Ganga? all about the evacuation mission from Ukraine
Also Read: Here’s Why Russian Cyberattacks in Ukraine Proved Ineffective