Indian restaurant comes to rescue of students in Kyiv with food, shelter

“I will continue to offer shelter and food for as long as I can,” Manish Dave, the owner of ‘Saathiya’ restaurant in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv said. Manish Dave’s restaurant has offered shelter and food to many in the past few days as people were urged to take shelter amid deadly shelling by Russia. 

His restaurant now houses dozens of children, pregnant women, students, homeless people and older locals. He has provided food and shelter to over 132 people till now. 

Dave came to Kyiv from Gujarat’s Vadodara in 2021 with plans to open an Indian restaurant for Indian students studying in the country. “I opened the restaurant to bring Indian culture to the country,” Dave told the Washington Post. 

Located near a hostel for international students of Bogomelets National Medical University, he opened his restaurant in January. “Everything was going nicely. Suddenly, all these things happened here. There was fire, blasts, bombs. It has been very scary. People are scared,” he said. 

After a series of explosions when civilians desperately sought shelter, Dave thought of opening the doors of his restaurant. He said, “A basement is a safe place. The place is so big, and I should help.” 

At first, he reached out to his customers, who are mainly students, and then he posted on social media, inviting anyone in need of shelter or food. “If you don’t have any proper safe place to stay during this time, please go here,” he posted. He added the address of his restaurant. “We will try our best to arrange free food and stay according to our capacity. Stand united with Ukraine,” he said. 

“Any nationality, any person can come here and take shelter,” he told the Washington Post. 

Ukrainian national Natali Antontseva, who took shelter in Dave’s restaurant said, “I can’t express how happy we were when we entered a clean, warm room, with a pleasant smell of Indian spices. Despite the fact that there was not much space, doors were opened for everyone. They offered us some hot tea and dinner. I was also happy for my pregnant friend who could sleep on a small couch instead of a cold floor of the basement we were in before.” 

Nataliya Hernandez Flor and her family have been at Dave’s shelter since Thursday. She said Dave and his employees were ‘very hospitable, polite and attentive.’ 

Dave does not take any financial help from the people who took shelter in his restaurant. Instead, he asks them to help him with groceries. “We are like one family. We all contribute things, not money. People are donating rice, food and vegetables. We are all contributing and sharing,” he said. 

He said his family back in India is worried. However, he hopes to stay in Ukraine for now and has plans to leave if the situation escalates. In that case, he will hand over the keys to people taking shelter in the restaurant. (Article source: 

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