Arrived in Gdynia with daughters. Husband, parents and other relatives are in Ukraine.
What were you doing before February 24th?
I’ve been trading all my life. I was on the stock exchange for a while, I needed rest. On February the 1st I went back to work.
What about this work now?
Now I’m not doing this anymore. In Poland I work in a restaurant, helping in the kitchen.
What were your plans for February 24?
My daughter had her birthday on this day. She was supposed to turn 10 this year. .
How did that day go? How did the time go before leaving Ukraine?
I woke up from my father's call, he said that the war had started. We opened the window but it was quiet. At 7 a.m. I started working, went outside and saw a big queue at the gas station. I haven’t seen such queues before. I called my husband and said that something had really started. And then explosions and siren alarms started. My young daughter and husband were outside of town with grandma, my older daughter and I were in the city. Husband came and picked us up. We took almost nothing with us: we left in what we were wearing. Moved to a new place, 25 km from Chernihiv. We thought Russian soldiers wouldn’t occupy the village. We stayed there for 9 days. Explosions were heard very clearly, we saw that everything on the horizon was burning. On March the 3rd we woke up earlier than usual. Now planes were flying very often and at very low height. We woke up, had breakfast and approximately at 9 a.m. our village started to be shelled. Nearest villages were occupied, we had our military in the village and there were Russian soldiers around. We were shelled from every side. From one side we had the possibility to leave, but there was shelling. At some point a 20-30 minutes pause appeared while shelling continued from that side. We again jumped in the car in what we were wearing. We managed to eat something and change clothes. And fastly, we drove away. Highway was empty. Car parts were lying around, tires... and nothing else. Even though it was only 20 km, we were flying, not driving in order to leave that place fast. Those were the longest 15 minutes in my life ever. Drove away not far, to a quiet place. Lived there for around 1 week. And again planes and other stuff started. We decided to move further. Then we drove 150 km away from Chernihiv. It was very quiet and calm there. But in 2 weeks our soldiers arrived. Taught by past experience we moved again. It was very scary. With every removal we thought: “Again?” Children were scared. When my younger daughter asked about sounds in the street and whether it was from our side, I always answered yes. In reality we didn’t know from which side it was, but those words made her calm.
Why and when did you make the decision to leave Ukraine?
We made the decision to leave because we were tired of moving each time. We were tired of searching for a new safe place in Ukraine. We moved to Poland on April 5th, and crossed the border the next day.
How was crossing the border? What did you feel while crossing it?
It was very difficult. Volunteers and I drove from Niszyn to Lutsk. In Lutsk we spent the night in a church. In the morning we were taken from church to the border. There, our border guards put us in cars which were going to the Polish border.
Did you come to Gdynia right away?
After crossing the border we had to spend the night somewhere, because they couldn’t immediately send us to Gdynia. The next day we went to Warsaw, then to Gdynia. We were going to visit my friend. We were expected, home was waiting for us.
How did your children cope with this?
Very hard. My Oldest daughter’s boyfriend is in Ukraine. Young one experienced immense panic because father wasn't near. It was very hard. Now we’re a bit used to it. Children are studying. New acquaintances, new feelings. We are learning Polish. Now it’s a bit easier.
How was accommodation?
We were helped by the family we live with. They also have children. At the start, we tried to go for walks and get distracted. We tried to go for a walk in the park, to the sea. We have an airport nearby and we still shudder at the sound of airplanes. Of course there are times when we want to go home. But there is no time to miss. And it’s scary to return home now.
What were your plans for this spring?
We had lots of plans. Husband was working in the field. Now I forbid him to do this because we experienced heavy shelling. I planned on working, going on a vacation near the sea in summer. There weren’t global plans, but at least something was possible.
Maybe you have plans now?
For now, I plan to be in Poland until the beginning of September. If the situation in Ukraine changes, we will come back. We have a home in Chernihiv, the place where we stayed after February 24th was destroyed. That’s why we need to build it from the very beginning.
What has changed in your worldview since the beginning of the full-scale invasion?
We live only once. And what is planned should be done now, not postponed.
What makes you happy and fulfills you?
Children are in a safe place. That's the main point for me. When they smile – it’s happiness for me.
How are your relations with the Poles?
Everything is very good. Even when I came to get a job without needed documents – I got a job without any questions. They understood my situation. They are helping. They are People from capital letter. I’m very thankful for help and for what they are doing for our country.
I’m more scared for children than for myself. We have already lived a bit and seen something, but they… I’m scared for the children the most.