Alyona 33 y.o. and Rostyk 3 y.o.
Before Russian aggression lived in Kharkiv
On February 24th, at 5:24 a.m., we woke up from the explosions. To my right my little three-year-old son Rostislav was sleeping, and on the left - my husband. I looked at him, I knew he was not asleep, in a trembling voice I asked him, "Has the war started?" He replied, "Yes.”
I was overwhelmed by enormous fear: fear for my son and fear for my husband.
He already had experience with Russian aggression. In 2014, my husband Volodymyr studied at the Russian studio of the Moscow Art Theater in directing courses. It was at the time when Russia invaded the eastern part of Ukraine, launched a war there and annexed Crimea from Ukraine.
Because my husband was a student with a Ukrainian passport in Russia, he was publicly humiliated by teachers, school management, and classmates. He suffered from excessive pressure and contempt. In 2015, he graduated from directing courses but was not even awarded a diploma. Instead he got a serious illness due to the constant stress. Doctors diagnosed him with multiple sclerosis. He almost lost the ability to walk and he could only move with crutches or a wheelchair.
The first thing I did was go to the nearest bank to withdraw cash. There was a huge queue. I saw people chaotically running into cars to go. Unfortunately, we do not have our own car. We did not have enough time to save up to buy one. After standing in line at the bank for an hour, I quickly ran to the store to buy groceries for a few days, but the shelves were almost empty. I managed to buy some sugar, bread and cookies.
The next few days were a complete horror mixed with insomnia. My son was constantly crying because he was scared of the explosions. We were sitting in a wet basement every day. We were lost in time and days. The lights were turned off, it was hard to breathe, there was no water and toilet, but at least my family and I was alive. Every day the number of people sitting in the basement with us became less and less, as they all fled the city, but unfortunately no one could take us with them.
One day we got information that an evacuation train had been launched from Kharkiv and we decided to leave. In fact, I had to bring my son and my husband with a disability to the train station, and we paid almost all the money we had for a taxi there.
The whole train was filled with people. The air was permeated with the fear of death. When the train arrived, all the people started pushing. My husband fell and couldn't get up, at this time my son was looking at his dad and crying. Volodymyr was picked up by the conductors and they helped us to take a seat moving some people onto the floor. That trip was enormously long since Kyiv and other cities were under air strikes and our train had to make stops every half an hour or so. No one announced why we stopped and we could only hear explosions nearby. We were going with the lights off and it was hard to breathe due to the crowd in the carriage. We
had only a small bottle of water for our child and no food except for a loaf of bread, which we bit into a couple times. We reached Kyiv and stopped for two hours without explanation. I went online and read news about a series of explosions in the capital. I cried silently, swallowing my tears. My whole life flashed in my mind. I thought, I don’t want to die, I don’t want my beloved son and husband to die…
Finally, we started to move but very slowly. My son was sleeping in my arms. I was reading on the internet how to get into the evacuation trains from the city of Lviv to Poland. The news was very bad. Due to a high number of people it was almost impossible to get into those trains and add to that having a small child and a husband with disability. We arrived in Lviv but then, it was a continuation of our nightmare - going through a huge crowd consisting of thousands of people who were trying to get to the evacuation trains for Poland. When we finally made it there with the help of volunteers because my husband could barely move there was that lady - the border officer, who started to yell at us that she would not allow my husband on the train due to the absence of some document (which apparently she made up since we had all the necessary documents). Then some military person took our documents and went somewhere. In a couple minutes he was back and said to follow him to the first carriage (can you imagine that trip..? With a kid and my husband who literally barely could move and all the people on the platform who seemed didn’t care about providing some space for us to go through). When we somehow made it there was a trainmaster who didn’t want to allow my husband on the train despite the fact that according to the law disabled males could leave the country. She didn’t react on any argument of mine and only after I sat on the ground and started to cry in impotence, and my son started to cry looking at me (he never saw me crying before) and kept asking why they didn’t allow his dad on the train - she just said: ”take care of your son” and put all necessary stamps in our passports allowing us to border to the train which moved us to Warsaw, Poland. The people who met us at the train station in Poland seemed like angels to me. They handed out food and water, and gave children toys and sweets. I cried. I couldn't believe we escaped the war. Shots are not fired here and missiles don't fly over our heads. We are alive and free!
It was a miracle that my family and I made it alive.I want Ukraine to win as soon as possible. And with every cell of my body I wish Putin to die and I have been cursing the entire russian nation, who silently support all terrorism against my people. Innocent people are suffering, hundreds of children are dying, and all this is happening in a democratic and independent Ukraine in the center of Europe. We will never forgive them. Russians as a nation do not exist. Glory to Ukraine!