АвторAuthor: Oleksandr Nikitin | Translation: Anna Shliakhova
24 July 2022
Oleksandra Savitska lived in Kyiv together with her husband and baby. On 25th of February they were awakened by an explosion nearby. Her husband and she immediately decided to flee. The family spent a few weeks in Lviv, then together with her daughter, she went abroad to Montenegro. The woman told us about everything that happened during her evacuation until they returned to Kyiv. “Monologues of the War” has published her story.
My name is Oleksandra Savitska. Before the war my life was full of fun and travels. For many years, together with my husband we spent winter in warm countries. But not this time. This winter was marked by the birth of our small daughter.
A few weeks before the 24th of February my husband issued a foreign passport for our daughter in case we had to flee urgently. But we didn’t do it on time, because we didn’t believe the war would come and it would be so real.
I didn’t hear the first explosions. But, I learned about them almost immediately because a friend of mine called to tell me the war had begun. I was scared, but they said in the news that attacks were directed against military objectives. It calmed me down a little bit. But, we didn’t know what to do. Roads were jammed and since 6 a.m. there were already hours long lines to gas stations. We were monitoring the situation all day long, and it grew from bad to worse. I was the most afraid for our tiny daughter who hasn’t seen the world yet, and we desperately wanted to show it to her.
There were no air-raid sirens by the moment, it was not clear when we were supposed to go to a shelter. Though, people just went outside with their grab-and-go bags, pets and children. It was easier to be outside. In the late afternoon when I heard that many of our friends fled the city, I was already so scared and insisted that we should flee. Though we stayed until the morning. I had time to pack our belongings without a hurry. I planned it for 2 months. It meant I needed winter and spring clothes for me and my baby. It was very difficult. I had to predict my baby clothing size and the unpredictable weather. I can say in advance that my guess was incorrect. That night I took shower and bathed my baby, anxiously hoping for positive changes.
The next day at 4:20 a.m. we were awakened by a strong explosion. We planned to leave right after the end of the curfew. I also convinced my sister and nephew to flee explosions in the capital. We were incredibly lucky to have a car. It was not ours, but our friends’ car. They flew to warmer climes and left us the keys, and asked to warm up the engine from time to time. And it was so helpful! On the evening of the 24th of February my husband went to fill it up and was lucky to do so.
Lviv was decided as our destination. Also, we contacted our friends in Slavuta and they invited us to stay at their place. At the moment, it was quiet there. We could stay there, but were afraid of the nuclear power station’s proximity.
We packed ourselves and our belongings into a pretty small car. Baby carrier and child seat were left abroad. There were 3 adults with the 5-year-old boy and the 2-month-old girl on laps going for 13 hours.
On the second day of the war Kyiv streets were largely empty. Still, our way to Slavuta took 13 hours instead of 5. Many traffic jams were caused by the lines to gas stations. Going around Hostomel we heard explosions. It was terrifying. It seemed the line of cars in a traffic jam would be shot from the sky right now. The thought of returning back home passed through my mind. It was scary going forward, it was scary coming back. Anyway, nobody knows what to expect them to do and where the safest place is.
We spent 3 days in Slavuta. We waited until my husband’s parents came. They miraculously managed to run away from Ivankiv that was occupied in the first hours of the full-scale invasion with occupiers were shooting at civilians and their vehicles. They managed to use a 15-minute break to escape.
We decided to go to Montenegro because we learned that the rental rates are lower there than in Europe in general.
Then we went to Lviv. We spent about 2 weeks there without even unpacking. It was so strange to see working stores, cafes, beauty salons, and people working along the street. It was strange to see that life went on. By the moment we all were frightened of every sound. We heard the sound of phantom sirens, helicopters, and explosions while a washing machine or a gas heater were working. It became scarier every day and we discussed our plan to get kids out of there. It was hard to dare.
We decided in favor of Montenegro, because we learned that the rental rates are really lower there than in Europe in general. And at the top of that there is the sea and the sun. It was inspiring. By that time a friend of mine with her family was already there. And it’s really nice to see familiar faces being under stress.
We went together with my mother-in-law, my sister, and her son. We booked an apartment on Airbnb. It would have been cheaper to find something through local realtors. But it was more comfortable for us not to bother ourselves with this problem as we were with kids.
We spent 2 months in Montenegro. For that time being, the Kyiv region was liberated and it became relatively safe there.
Personally for me, adapting to live abroad was easy. I have had such an experience every winter and it was helpful. I missed my husband and it was the worst. Especially given the fact that he missed 2 months of her daughter’s life.
There were problems with healthcare provision in Montenegro, especially with children vaccination. They didn’t have the vaccines we needed. Though several locals tried to help us and we visited the clinic 4 times, we still had to go to Croatia to be able to get her vaccinated in time.
Now my family and I are in Kyiv. My mother-in-law came back to Ivankov, my father-in-law is in the army. My sister and her son are also in Kyiv. We monitor the situation. We are ready to flee if needed. Still, we hope we won’t leave our home again. For the time of air-raid we go to the corridor according to the rule of “2 walls”.
With regard to the new values and knowledge that this war brought us, I’ve learned not to postpone living. Honestly, I have had it before. It’s important to appreciate every moment of life, don’t fight and don’t worry about not important things, to appreciate relationships and find words to say that and to say thank you. I’ve already had all of these in my life. This war brought us only grief and sorrow. I’m trying to avoid them, but they are always with me.
How will our country look like after our victory? I hope Ukrainians will change mentally. I hope they will become kinder, more attentive, and polite. For now, I can’t see these changes. I believe our country will be more developed and it will be comfortable to live here.
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