"We don’t need anything but peace in our country so that we can go back home"

Published: Mar 10, 2022 Reading time: 4 minutes
© Photo: PIN

Natasha fled Kharkiv with her son Ivan immediately after the first bombs fell. They arrived in Morshyn, western Ukraine, three days after the Russian invasion. “By the time we left Kholodna Hora, it was already under fire. At the same time, people were quietly walking to buy some bread. I mean, a lot of people still hope that everything is going to be okay,” Natasha describes the day they left home. “I called the taxi. The taxi driver said that he took his family out of the town, and he continued working. I asked: ´Why do you not leave?´ He said, ´Who, if not us?´,” she says. 

“I realized that wars do not end quickly. So, I have accepted my company’s offer to relocate, and I have come here by bus,” Natasha states, adding that they crossed many checkpoints and passport controls on the way. “It breaks my heart to realize how many of my friends are staying there.”

An up-to-date overview of PIN's activities

West of Ukraine

People in Need's trucks regurarly arrive in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv with much-needed humanitarian aid. We also provide psychological assistance in the region and help to create refugee centres in smaller towns. Trains from the Czech Republic with humanitarian aid arrive in Kiev.

East of Ukraine

We distribute water, food parcels and hygiene items in eastern Ukraine. We provide direct financial assistance to particularly vulnerable families. We are sending trains to Dnipro, from where is the aid distributed to other places. Two of our trucks got to the city of Sumy.

Czech Republic

Social workers assist refugees in almost all regions, we are part of the organizational structures and we participate in the creation of systemic solutions for the integration of incoming Ukrainians. We have established a telephone hotline in Ukrainian language. We financially support helping organizations.

Border States

In Moldova, we have reinforced our existing office and are helping to set up and equip accommodation facilities for Ukrainian refugees in cooperation with local organisations. In Romania, we also financially support local organisations. In Slovakia, in cooperation with Človek v ohrození, we are helping at border crossings I inside the country and with aid coordination in the Ukrainian Transcarpathian region.

Natasha and Ivan got to Lviv in western Ukraine and began looking for a place to stay. Finally, they found a place in an old sanatorium in Morshyn. This building was recently re-opened for people are fleeing the war. Natasha needs to carefully consider her next moves, noting, "I am not going anywhere right now. Only if the bombs will fall, I would leave." Although her son Ivan is highly adaptable, Natasha is concerned about him. “He is fine, but I think he is traumatized. In any case, it could reveal later on,” she concludes.

We wanted to take our children to a safer place

“We’ll never forget Thursday, February 24th. Our children spent nine days in the basement after it,” says Svitlana, currently displaced in Opaka in western Ukraine. After the time spent in the basement, fear, and concerns for her family's safety, Svitlana decided to flee. She fled with her daughter Nastia (24 years old), granddaughter Maia (1-year-old) and several other mothers with children who were afraid to stay home due to the intensive fighting in the area.

The women took the train from Zaporizhzhia to Lviv, which took 30 hours. Svitlana informs us that the journey “was terribly cold in the train. When we entered, there was no heating. But on the way, it was already warmer. The train was very slow on the way; besides, we stopped every time when the sirens were heard,” she goes on to note that “The train was full of mothers and children, some of them were crying. Nobody wanted to leave our city, our husbands, fathers, brothers, relatives and friends. But we wanted to take our children to a safer place. We were scared. But we’ll come back home because we’ll win this war”.

After thirty hours on the train, Svitlana and the other women and children went to the sanatorium in Opaka. They covered more than one hundred kilometres by bus and were utterly exhausted by the very long and complicated journey. “When we arrived, we were happy that it is calm here. Despite the fact that there is no heating, we are happy. It is a beautiful landscape. It’s very nice here. But we desperately want to go back home,” she noted wearily.

We’ve spent several days in the bomb shelter

“We’ve spent several days in the bomb shelter with my six years old daughter. It was terrible there. There were other mothers with children, and some of them got sick as it was cold and wet in the shelter. And we decided to leave to Lviv, jointly with other women and children as it is much easier to go together,” says Iryna, 30-years-old from Zaporizhzhia. Like many innocent civilians seeking safety in Lviv, she spent thirty hours on the train with two more on the bus to the Opaka sanatorium, where the families are hosted for free.

“It is very quiet here. We are not afraid as we were in Zaporizhzhia,” shares Iryna. “But anyway, we desperately want home… In the worst-case scenario, if the bombing will start here, we’ll go to Poland. But I don’t want to! I want to go home,” adds Iryna. “We are not discussing the war with children. But they feel and understand that something very bad is happening. We don’t need anything but peace in our country so that we can go back home,” says Iryna.

People in Need plans to support centres where people like Natasha, Iryna and Svitlana are seeking safety. PIN will arrange delivery of mattresses, bedsheets, heaters, hygiene items and other humanitarian material.


Autor: Alyona Budagovska, Petr Stefan, People in Need

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