Ukrainian Refugee

Hello everyone! My name is Tanya Mahel, my maiden name is Danylyuk. I’m 32 years old. I have a son, his name is Arsen, he’s almost 8. He went to school. I had my own peaceful life, I had a big house with a big and green yard. I had a job. I had our beloved German shepherd dog. I had nice clothes and pretty shoes. 

You ask me why I write everything in the past tense? Because one February day changed everything in my life, in lives of all Ukrainian people. 
So, how it was?

On February, 23 2022  it was very cold and dark evening. Our dog was very nervous and was barking all time. We were scared. 

Our morning on February 24 started as usual. I got up at 6 a.m., I prepared the breakfast, put on my clothes, my son woke up and we were ready to go out. My phone got a message. My son’s teacher wrote that the war started, cities like Lutsk and Ivano-Frankivsk were bombed by Russian soldiers and all schools and kindergartens became closed. Time has stopped.

How did I feel at that moment? I felt despair, pain, fear, anger. These were emotions that could not be described, they just had to be experienced. There was only one question in my head, what to do next?

When I was getting to my work, I saw a lot of people near the shops and supermarkets. Gas stations were overcrowded with cars, a huge crowd of people at ATMs and empty shelves in pharmacies. Chaos and panic were in the streets. This is the beginning of the great Ukrainian struggle for independence and democracy.

It would seem that this day lasted an eternity, and the night was the longest in my life. We were very scared. We spent a few days in our basement. Today is the 21st century, but we left our home and had to live in a cold and damp basement, because it was safe place. 

In a few days, we decided to go abroad to our relatives in Poland. Only women and children could go. Our fathers, husbands, brothers, adult sons stayed in Ukraine. Our, I even don’t know how to say, way or trip to Poland was hard and very long. We just took one small bag with documents and some necessary stuff. It was night, there were a lot of policemen, women, sleeping babies, children, old people on the Ukrainian-Polish border. And, you know, it was  terrible.

People left their homes, houses, they left everything just to save their lives. So, we did the same. We left everything in Ukraine, house, jobs, clothes, pretty shoes and so on… And now we’re in Poland, in a foreign country without job, without money, without my dad and other native and beloved people. My mom is very upset. I don’t know how to explain to my son why we left Ukraine and why he should study in a Polish school. Every day we pray God, that the war is over.  We are afraid every day, emotionally it is very difficult to realize that in Poland we have to start our  life anew. 

What does it mean war? War is a lot of bombs, crying, human cries, fire, death, horror, destroyed houses, streets, cities, infrastructure, the economy as a whole.

Just few days ago my native city was bombed by Russian rockets. This is the war, our today’s terrible reality.

I, my mom and my little son, are reduced to begging everyone to help us in this difficult time. We are just one family!