The women and children left on the first train, the elderly on the second – including Olena, who miraculously escaped danger. The third train was meant to take the remaining people, but fell under gunfire. No more trains left after that. The war in Ukraine continues and we stand in solidarity with war-stricken Ukraine.
Olena comes from the city of Kramatorsk. She had been prepared for war since 2014. It was already clear at that time that Russia would not let up and would try to grab more than just Crimea. When she went shopping, she made sure she bought enough to last for a few weeks. “I fled. I was driven out of my home, located near the airport, by the roar of falling bombs, smoke and the sight of the neighbourhood being turned to rubble. I left the supplies behind. I don’t know what condition my home is in or whether it is even still standing. I hope my supplies will be useful to the neighbours who stayed behind,” she says.
She ran down to the cellar on the very first day of the war. “A cellar is no shelter, but at least you can’t see what’s going on around you. It was cold, sometimes around zero,” she recalls. The cellar also turned out to be a death trap. When some people became seriously ill from the cold, they decided to return to their flats.
“From then on we only ran downstairs when the sirens were sounding. I remember one day I tried to cook borscht. It took me a whole day, because before I got everything ready, the bomb alarm sounded 7 times. When I came back to my home after the last bombing, there was no glass in the windows, and dust covered everything in the flat,” Olena says. The will to live made them flee westwards. “I will never forget the sight of the destroyed housing estates,” says Olena.
Olena still remembers the railway station and the crowd of people. She and her two sisters waited six hours for the train. Olena and her sisters got on the second train – the last one that was able to leave. They arrived in Lutsk and immediately wanted to continue west to Poland. Eventually, they stopped at a hotel in Lviv, which had suddenly become an aid station for refugees from the east. Even when the Russians bombed a nearby oil depot, they did not want to flee any further.
“It’s time to go home. I am waiting for victory. In Kramatorsk each of us has a flat. One of us three might survive the war. We will live there with our sisters. We are definitely going back.” Olena said with tears in her eyes.
We are still raising funds at the Good Factory. There is also an ongoing collection of clothes for Ukraine, as well as of food and hygiene products, which we are sending to our Ukrainian neighbours (if you would like to donate such items, please contact us directly). Olena and all the women in the hostel in Lutsk received clothes, underwear and food from you. This is what was needed the most, because when fleeing, most did not take anything with them.
If you want to continue doing good work with us for those who have chosen to stay in their homeland despite the attacks, please join our fundraiser, which is still in progress. Since the beginning of the war, we have raised almost one million PLN. Much of it has already been turned into very tangible aid! Join us! Let’s stand in solidarity with Ukraine!