OVER the past nine days the Olive Press has been keenly following the epic journey of local hero, Jesus Perez de Tena, a greengrocer from Sevilla—also crew member for one of flamenco’s greatest dancers Farruquito—who has clocked up over 8,000km in a hair raising adventure into the very heart of the Ukrainian war zone and back in a selfless show of humanity.

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Local hero, Jesus Perez de Tena (left) arrives back home to Spain after rescuing 7 refugees and a dog.

After safely escaping from Ukraine, having delivered critical medical supplies for Ukrainian hospitals, it was time for the return journey.

After travelling 4,500 kilometres in his greengrocer van, de Tena was adamant not to return empty handed. With room for refugees, de Tena, thanks to a contact in Poland, was able to bring back to Spain seven refugees plus a dog.

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Life possessions limited to a suitcase.

“We left the two mothers with their two daughters, who we had picked up in Krakow, in Valencia, from there they will be taken to Murcia.” de Tena told the Olive Press.

“Our goodbye was very emotional. We are strangers, we don’t even speak the same language, but we have made a connection for life.” he added.

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Six of the seven Ukrainian refugees.

“Before we said goodbye, I gave everyone a rosary that had been previously blessed by the church I go to. So that they can continue their onward journey safely.”

“The 18-year-old girl, together with the elderly couple, brother and sister, of 70 and 72 years, have relatives in Huelva and will stay in Sevilla until they can be joined with their family.” he said.

“As well as their dog Adele. We couldn’t possibly leave Adele behind.” de Tena confirmed.

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The little dog, Adele, was also rescued.

“This has to be one of the hardest journey’s I have ever done, yet at the same time the most rewarding.”

“I even had time to wake up extra early after the night we spend in Valencia, a 4 am to be precise, to go and stock up my van with some fresh fruit for my fruit shop in Sevilla ‘la hija de Carmelita Montequinto.’” de Tena told the Olive Press.

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Mother and daughter embrace, lots of emotions on the return journey.

Jesus Perez de Tena, together with his brother-in-law Sergio finally arrived home safe and sound late last night, Friday March 18, after an epic nine day journey, that not only took them into the heart of the war and back, covering more than 8000 kilometres on the way, it was a journey of solidarity, of compassion, unity and plenty of emotions.

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Finally home, safe and sound at the fruit shop in Sevilla ‘la hija de Carmelita Montequinto.’

For seven Ukranians (and a dog), these brave, unsung heros will never be forgotten.

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