LUGANO – The Telegram group украинцев в Тичино, “Ukrainians in Ticino”, was born with the arrival of the first refugees. Today it has 700 members and hosts a cascade of messages every day. There are those who give away a high chair for the children, those who are looking for pointe shoes for their son and others a good sushi in Lugano. “The Swiss say that to go to Italy you save money,” replies one user.
caring community – The main topic is the bureaucratic procedures related to asylum applications: “How do I get to the Bellinzona counter?”, “Who has already received the cantonal allocation?”, “Be careful, today the Chiasso center is closed”. But there is no shortage of advice on dentists and doctors, school and housing issues: all in the typical chaos of very crowded chats.
Money for a hot video – The messages are not always constructive or well-intentioned. In recent weeks, an advertisement written in Russian offered “help to Ukrainian families in difficulty” and invited “those who need money to write privately.” Elina*, a 39-year-old mother of three from kyiv, replied: she was offered 150 francs in exchange for a racy video. “I was so embarrassed that I didn’t even write to the group to expose it. However, after a while the ad disappeared.
40 francs a day – This is not the only case of indecent proposals. The association Strawberry Movement, active in housing aid for refugees, reports several complaints from users of the group employed as nannies or housekeepers for a few francs. Katerina* (18 years old) says that she found a job as a nanny for two small children through chat in the center of Lugano. She “she cared for them for 12 hours a day or more, also cleaning and cooking. A terrible experience,” she says. All for 40 francs a day, which for the 18-year-old “seemed like a lot of money”. Despite this, on the third day she gave up due to stress.
“Ticino is not without its pitfalls” – According to the association, the cases would be different: “It is important that refugees are informed and assisted in a territory they do not know to avoid unpleasant situations”, observes volunteer Eugenia Lomak. “They think that Ticino is a place without cheating, but it is not like that.”
* names known to publishers