We have a house not far from the centre of Kharkiv. We live near the train station. Now it’s very dangerous in this place. Martial law was declared on the evening of February 24. We have a basement in the house where we used to go when the sirens went off, and we had previously received warning messages from the authorities. When the danger had passed, we could get out of our hiding place, prepare something to eat, etc. Worse with those people who live in apartments, condominiums, hotels. They have gone permanently to safe places (underground, cellars), from which they have not yet come out. There they are given food and necessary things… We are on the fifth day of this war. At first, we thought it would be over soon. There was hope in us, we prayed! However, on the fifth day the bombing began, as a result of which some buildings were destroyed. Then we started to get scared and quickly made the decision to leave.
On the morning of March 1st, the curfew ended, so we went to the train station. Trains were replaced every day, about six, now certainly more, maybe eight. There are no timetables at the station. When the train arrives, people get on. At 8 in the morning, we boarded the Kharkiv-Lviv train. The train also stopped in Kiev and collected other people who were waiting. That was a nightmare. The number of people who journeyed on this train was around 7,000. It was stuffy, there was no water, people fainted. We spent the night in Lviv in a youth centre. Early in the morning, we reached the Ukrainian border by taxi. There we waited 15 minutes as there weren’t too many people at that time. Then we went to the Polish border. We were warmly welcomed. When they found out that we wanted to continue our trip to Estonia, to Olga’s husband, who works there, we were directed to people who were waiting to leave for Warsaw, from where we had to continue our journey.
In the meantime, a middle-aged lady on crutches approached us and wanted to take us to dinner at her home in Tomaszewo. We defended ourselves because we had only one thought in mind to get to Estonia as soon as possible. However, she compelled us by saying that she also does the transport of people and has a driver who is her son’s friend and they travel together. She said they would just get back to Łódź and that they could take us to Warsaw. In the meantime, they brought another woman: Tatiana with two children. She was supposed to return to Estonia in May. So, we all went together to the house of this woman who welcomed us as a very close person.
After lunch, we left for Warsaw and this is how we arrived at you, at the Salesian Missionary Centre. We know that it was God himself who brought us to you. We had already entrusted him with all this. We are very grateful to you. We are currently in constant contact (by phone) with Olga’s husband. Our city is already 60% destroyed. The seat of the regional state administration and adjacent buildings were partially ruined. The residential complexes of Kharkiv, the main square of Kharkiv, the church were also attacked … There are constant attacks, on one side, on the other, but Kharkiv is defending itself!
Olga (33) and her son Mark (11) and Valentina, Olga’s mother (62) were from Kharkiv. Valentina’s husband remained in Kharkiv with his mother (81 years old). The aid chain continues. Thanks to other good people, on March 5th, Olga, her son Mark and Valentina left Warsaw by bus to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, and arrived happily!
This is the story of another family that we have helped.