АвторAuthor: Oleksandr Nikitin | Translation:
28 June 2022
Anna Bortnik lived in Nikolaev before war. After the first explosions, I decided that I needed to leave the city. The next day, together with children and neighbors I left Nikolaev. After spending three days at the checkpoint, she managed to get to Poland, where she is now. Zhynka wrote a series of posts on her Facebook page, in which she told about the first day of the war, leaving Ukraine, and life in Poland.
* The story is published with the permission of the author
On February 24, I woke up to an explosion. Since there was an avenue near the house, I thought that a tire had burst in some car. Then she heard another and came. Even after the plane flew rapidly and very loudly near our house, I realized that something was wrong. Everyone woke up except the children. At first it was that this city was a military training, because there were no military in ours. Only after I saw pillars of smoke and fire at Kulbakinsky airfield on my own side in the window, I realized that this is WAR !!! Sadness and anxiety in his eyes, and one question in his head: “What to do?”
Hastily collected a bag of essentials for children. I spent the whole day thinking about what to do and how to do it. She kept the address of the nearest shelters and bomb shelters. But there was no point in those shelters, because it’s just the basement of high-rise buildings and it won’t be safe there. The nearest bomb shelter is miles from home, to learn to run with two children takes too much time. Being just in a 9-storey apartment is also dangerous. And most importantly: “How to explain to a two-year-old hyperactive son that you need to run somewhere to hide, it’s time to just sit in one place and not go anywhere?”
The thought flashed that it was necessary to leave the city and, perhaps, even from the country. There are relatives of the man in Transnistria. But I do not have foreign passports for children. She ran to the neighbors of the well-known procedure of leaving the country during the war. But she had no information at the time. The council was looking for information on the website of the border services. I monitored them all evening, but found nothing.
On the morning of February 25, a doorbell rang. A neighbor was standing in the doorway, who said that she was going to Poland by car in a year (they have a business there with her husband), she had a free place and offered to choose me with the children. The procedure for going abroad is simplified, passports and visas are not required. I called my husband and heard, “Go.” With trembling hands and tears in my eyes, I packed up and a year later left town: two women and four children. On the morning of February 26, we arrived in Ternopil. There were a lot of tow trucks along the way. There are 170 kilometers left to the border checkpoint. Compared to those kilometers that have already been traveled – it was a trifle. But we did not know what lay ahead.
22 kilometers to the checkpoint we stood within. In this queue spent THREE DAYS of his life !!! In THREE DAYS we drove 15 kilometers !!! I WILL NEVER FORGET THESE THREE DAYS !!! We found snow, rain, hail, frost and sun.
“People who did not have a car went on foot. Those people are poor. They left their belongings, wheelchairs, toys, wheelchairs. Those children were carried on their shoulders, in their arms, and women, men, and the elderly were dragged as best they could”.
A low bow and a big thank you to the volunteers and just not indifferent people who fed our endless day and night with endless hot drinks, food, sweets, fruit. Some pitched whole tents and lit fires for heating, some traveled by car and distributed food, some carried food and drink along the cars. Everything is free. They were all one whole mechanism. It was especially difficult to follow the queue at night, because some days without sleep and fatigue just turned us off. The children were asleep, and we … The neighbor, when she saw that the queue was not moving, understood that someone had fallen asleep. She walked and woke up the drivers in front. Although there were waters that waited for someone to fall asleep and took their place. Apparently, it was because of such “tricksters” that we spent so much time in line.
When the first checkpoint passed and it was five kilometers to the checkpoint, we learned that there was no queue at the neighboring checkpoint at all. But it is necessary to go to it about 200 more kilometers. After analyzing the speed at which we approached the border, we realized that we would be like this for a few more days. So they decided to take a risk. When we arrived at another checkpoint, we saw that we were not the only ones to learn that there was no queue. It has already appeared, but not so long. We were about five hundred meters from the point. They crossed the Ukrainian border in three years. And a spark of hope has already appeared in my eyes, that we have almost passed everything, there is still quite a bit left. But they stood in the transit area for six hours! Together with the neighbor they were already exhausted, the mind was like in a fog, they were telling one such nonsense, just not to fall asleep.
At 4:00 am on March 1, we passed a Polish checkpoint. We were met by acquaintances in the car. Divided into two cars and drove to the destination another 200 kilometers. But behind the wheel of both cars were not tired men, then slept for several years. Settled in a hostel. It is still in it. We arrived in Poland, so to speak, in the forefront. Poles simply asked on the street if they needed any help, made discounts in shops, brought humanitarian aid to the hostel (toys, delicacies for children, things, shoes, etc.). There were also other Poles who drove their cars to the humanitarian aid station, which they organized on their own.
“One woman at the supermarket checkout just paid the bill for me, even though I refused. Also, the laundry woman did not take a penny from us, although according to their prices we had to pay 200 zlotys (about 1,400 hryvnias)”.
There was a trolley for a baby. I wanted to buy, but when the Pole found out that we were from Ukraine, he just brought me and refused to take the money. He also gave an office and a whole bunch of goodies for children.
Poles are also very respected at the official humanitarian aid point. They just ask what is needed: medicine, medical care, housing, schooling, clothes, shoes, personal hygiene products, toys, food. This item is not a one-time aid, but a weekly one. I am VERY THANKFUL to ALL POLES WHO HELPED AND ARE HELPING OUR COUNTRY !!! I appeal to Ukrainians who are now also abroad: “I beg you, behave with dignity. By your behavior, foreigners judge our entire nation. “
Unfortunately I heard very unpleasant stories:
1) In the shop near our hostel, Ukrainians came in who were just as drunk and could barely stand on their feet. And with them were children. The Poles called the police. For them, such behavior is not clear.
2) At an official humanitarian aid station, an elderly Ukrainian woman was hauling large and heavy boxes with her words. When a Polish volunteer approached her and asked, “How often does she come for help?” She heard, “Every three days.” The Pole was very common and dissatisfied, so you can use it once every 7 days.
3) At the same humanitarian aid point, a handbag was stolen from one of the volunteers. The Poles were forced to let one person into the building. And those who wanted to go to the bathroom were accompanied by a policeman.
I don’t know how else, but I am very ashamed of such behavior of Ukrainians. They help you as much as they can, and you behave horribly. At present, there are many Ukrainians in Poland, and Poles are simply indifferent at times, and sometimes dissatisfied when they see Ukrainians. Not all, but … I often ask myself, “Did I do the right thing when I left the country?” But when I hear terrible news from my hometown every day, I see that many people are still leaving their homes. And I hope that my husband and family are calmer, that our children are safe.
Currently, the daughter goes to a Polish school, but they took not a class, but her other to another, which she does not know the language. Like I like it. The child is not taken to the kindergarten, only from the age of three. Thanks to the care and attention of children – life goes on. Although the heart is divided into two parts: one here, with children, and the other – in his hometown with and relatives. Although my daughter is quite old, she has not seen all the horror and not very often what is happening. For her, it’s like traveling to another country, new acquaintances and friends. The son has not noticed any changes at all, except for a change of residence, the same hostel where he likes everything. Every day to follow all the events that take place in the homeland. I miss my family very much, but I hope that it will end as soon as possible, and we can all return home, to our native country, to our native land, to our native city, to our house, which my husband and I started building two years ago. I believe that there will be nowhere to return.
I miss you infinitely … With Ukraine in my heart !!! Glory to 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: