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Sisters: Olya 26 y.o. and Anya 17 y.o.

Before Russian aggression lived in Rivne

Our stories

Olya

 

On the night the war broke out, I did not sleep like I did all the nights before. I knew that at night I would receive a message from someone that a war had broken out, or that a special news release would come out and I would be notified. I waited every night for this to happen. At six in the morning on February 24, such a message came from my student. He wrote that the lesson was canceled because there were explosions in Kyiv. The news reported that the Russian Federation had invaded and that explosions were heard in Kharkiv and Kyiv. That's how it started. I went out on the balcony and called my dad and all my loved ones. They were still asleep. It was still dark and empty outside. My neighbors, my family, packed groceries and bags in the trunk of the car, then sat down and drove away. When I came to withdraw cash at the ATM at 7 am, there was already a huge queue. There was no queue at the village shop, but people took carts and bought canned food and bread. I looked in their baskets to figure out what to buy, but in the end I came up with nothing. Buying 10 loaves of bread seemed silly to me. My boyfriend came to help me pack my things in my suitcase, and I didn't know how to put in everything I valued, all my books, clothes and archives of four generations of my family in one suitcase.

 

At first I moved in with my parents. We slept dressed, and when the sirens sounded we hid in the bathroom. Every day I went out to buy more canned food and supplies, because I was afraid that we would not have enough food. Within a week we decided that my younger sister and our cat Borshchyk and I would go abroad. It was unbearably difficult to say goodbye to my parents at the train station. First we went to Poland and stayed with the parents of my uncle's employee. For the first time in our lives, complete strangers prepared food for us, bought food and clothes, and took care of us like family. But even though we were surrounded by worries from everywhere, I really wanted to go home and all the time I felt like I had made a big mistake, leaving home and my parents. Eventually we ended up in Portugal with our aunt, who also lives by phone calls to relatives and constant reading of the news. I planned to visit her this summer, and now I would give everything in the world to return home.

 

Anya

​February 24 changed the life of every Ukrainian, including mine. I was no longer worried about going to university and grades for tests. All quarrels with loved ones have become so meaningless, and the words "I love you" - not enough for eternal happiness together. I didn't care about my appearance and all these daily to-do lists. Now I don't care about anything. For ANYTHING, except for my relatives. I just wanted to hear my mother's calm voice, not run to withdraw money and buy groceries in the store. I wanted to wake up and hear that all this is just a nightmare, a mistake, not our reality. I felt fear. Fear of being left homeless, without family, without friends, without freedom, without hope. Studying the history of Ukraine in textbooks, I had no idea that we will be on these pages. The 18th century with the mass enslavement of Ukrainians, the liquidation of our Cossacks; the 20th century and its famine, genocide, shooting revival, the First and Second World Wars… How could it come back again?! How did this become our reality !? It is difficult to leave your country. It's hard to leave your parents. It's hard to live knowing that people are dying there. It's hard to read the news every minute and be afraid to see "Air Alarm, Everyone Shelter" in your city. I wake up thinking about the war and go to bed after my parents say that they are all right. I want to go home. I want to hug all my family. I want to live in peace. I want a peaceful sky in Ukraine. February 24 changed the life of every Ukrainian and, unfortunately, it will never be the same again. We will win, I'm sure. We will rebuild cities, that's a fact. We will live better, because we are strong-minded people and not subservient to anyone. The support of the whole world only adds to this confidence, both at the political level and in everyday life. Millions of people get to the streets and don’t remain silent. Thousands volunteer and help us. They send humanitarian aid, weapons, and help refugees abroad. I feel that we are all one now and we have a common enemy. The kindness of the Europeans does not make me lose my faith in people. It helps to restore it as I see how many people want to help Ukrainians and it's invaluable to me. The world is with us. Justice for us. Everything will be Ukraine!