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  • Українці розповідають про пережите під час війни з росією

    Ukrainians talk about their experiences during the war with russia

    Alina Pelyukhivska

    Alina Peliukhivska: “It’s more frightening to be abroad without loved ones than to stay at home under shellings”

    Ukrainians abroad

    АвторAuthor: Oleksandr Nikitin | Translation: Anna Shliakhova

    17 June 2022

    Alina Peliukhivska was forced to give up her creative vocation and leave her home, taking her children away from Mykolaiv. They are now in Poland. Read on to find out how the Peliukhivskys were received abroad and what feelings have been overwhelming them.

    Last years I was working in a pawnshop and creating art from natural materials in Ukraine. I was well-known on social media from various art groups. A lot of articles were written about me last year and I inspired many followers to create beautiful things. I really miss that now. I currently work in a supermarket as a shelf stacker for 8-10 hours a day. It is very difficult due to my back problems.

    Last year I was nervous…I knew something was wrong. I constantly told my husband that we needed to change something. I wanted to go abroad to work because I felt something wasn’t right. I had a complete apathy towards life. I was able to set my feelings aside somewhat thanks to my husband and my art, but most of the time I didn’t want to do anything. Before the war we had been severely ill with COVID-19 and our bodies were recovering strength as if it were preparation for hard times.

    Before the war

    With children before the war

    When my friend told me the war could happen 6 months or more ago I thought it was a joke, it made no sense to me. WhenI had a phone call at 5 a.m. on the 24th of February, I was shocked and couldn’t realize what was going on. In my thoughts I still was getting ready for work.I didn’t panic. I was more or less calm through all of the war time spent in Ukraine. I was certain nothing bad would happen to us. Sometimes I cried from feeling that nothing could be changed. Other people in the city panicked, but I did everything calmly and consistently. I withdrew all of my money from my bank accounts and bought food and water for long-term storage. When I arrived at the pharmacy there was almost no medicine left. Everyday I went out to the shops to see which were still open, for how long, and if there was anything new. One day I found frozen capelin and it was as tasty as a delicacy. At the beginning it was more or less quiet compared to now.

    If I was forced to flee, I had to go abroad”

    For 18 days of the war I stayed at home. My husband hinted that our kids and I had to flee, but I didn’t want to hear it. We learned to recognize sounds of bombs and air defense. We knew when it was time to hide in the corridor behind 2 walls, and when it was safe to stand near windows.

    I started to think about evacuation on March 12th when they started firing at our district. They bombed a children’s playground, then a shell fell near our school. Many people in lines at the ATM and the supermarket died. There were casualties among our military as well when they were resting. They were shelled in the night. Near our house begins the area of private buildings. The second row there was damaged. When it happens far away one doesn’t think about danger.

    I decided if I was forced to flee, I had to go abroad. The war won’t end soon and the devastation will last for years. I needed to go where I could make money and help my country. On the 14th of March 2022, at 7 a.m. my kids, Andryi and Elvira, and I went to Odesa. We paid for our tickets because we couldn’t reach the Red Cross. I have no regrets. We met nice people on our way that helped us all the way to Poland. I liked a waiting room in Odesa for moms and kids where they fed us tasty food while volunteers played with the kids.

    Evacuation train

    In the evacuation train

    Chaos began when we were getting on the train. Foreign men pushed kids under the train and were smoking in the line making it difficult for the children to breathe. They paid no attention to our requests for them to stop. We were lucky, as we had a sleeper car the entire ride so we had our own sleeping place the entire trip.

    On May 15th at about 3 p.m. we were in Lviv. It was difficult because there were so many people and so few volunteers with little information. We were listening to the crowd to try to get information. It was very cold and we couldn’t leave the queue and not lose our place. People were napping on their bags. We were waiting for our train until  6 or 7 a.m. Foreigners here behaved the same. When we arrived in Poland, we immediately felt that they were waiting for us. They were ready to give us almost everything. I was crying at the railway station. It was so nice, so caring. 

    “The Polish are so kind to us and help us as much as they can”

    On the 16th of March we came to the Polish city Slubize. My friend was waiting for me so I didn’t worry about a place to live. She also helped me to find a job which I started on March 19th. My colleagues helped me to find an apartment. I can say the apartment found me, so I was very lucky. It is a tough situation with renting, especially for those who came with children or pets.

    Now I live in a Polish man’s apartment and try to get assistance for Ukranians-about 40 zlotyh for a person for 2 or 3 months. For now we live there for free. If I don’t get help, I will pay rent.

    We have been here for 2 months already. It is hard for us, everything is alien to me even though the Polish are so kind to us and help us as much as they can. Their language is easy to understand, but speaking is difficult. Kids are much more adaptable. The hardest thing is the language barrier. Slowly, we are learning Polish as we are here and have to know their language. Now I work a lot, try to get my kids schooling, and have no plans for the future. For the time being, I work and send money to Ukraine. I am helping my country the best I can.

    On the way to Poland

    On the way to Poland

    When war begins, one reflects on everything. All of our values have changed. It turns out that our kids and closest people are the most valuable things, and money and stuff are just a matter of time. My mom was left at home, my middle brother with his family are in Brovary, and my husband with his brothers are in Mykolaiv. My heart hurts a lot for my loved ones. I feel guilty for the peaceful sky over my head while they are still in hell. Its hard to know that I can’t help them. It’s more frightening to be abroad without loved ones than to stay at home under shellings. Explosions weren’t as scary as this situation.

    Also, my eyes have opened and I see now who my friends, brother, sister are… and who are the enemies. My brother lives in Crimea, he is military. I could only say: “I have no brother anymore” It’s the worst loss during the war.. I believe that after the victory, our country will be the best and the most famous in the world. Everything will be Ukraine!

    Чому важливо поширити цю історію?
    Якщо українці не розповідатимуть свій погляд на війну в Україні, світ поступово забуватиме про нас. Натомість цим обов’язково скористаються росіяни. Тому не даймо їм жодного шансу.

    Why is it important to share this story?
    If Ukrainians do not share their views on the war in Ukraine, the world will gradually forget about us. Instead, the Russians will definitely take advantage of this. So let's not give them a chance.

    АвторAuthor: Oleksandr Nikitin | Translation: Anna Shliakhova

    Ukrainians abroad

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