No power or water, no way to collect the dead in Ukrainian city of 400,000
Russian rockets are forcing many Ukrainian families to choose whether to stay or go, or even leave behind loved ones who can’t make the treacherous journey out of the country.
Elena Belaya fled Kyiv to Poland with her 2-year-old daughter. Sharing videos and pictures of a helicopter overhead as they were trying to escape, Belaya said she was worried they wouldn’t even make it to the border.
Belaya said it was 5:36 a.m. and she was catching up with the news on her phone when she heard “something like a big burst” outside.
“I sent my husband to look what’s going on outside. He said that, yes, something really is going (on) but very far. Then we started to look through the news, and we realized that the war (had) began,” she said.
They decided to leave for the Polish border but her husband couldn’t go with them — Ukrainian men ages 18 to 60 are barred from leaving the country.
“It was most difficult (time) in this situation… He said that I must save our child and go to the (place of) safety, and he convinced me to cross the border alone only with my child.”
At the border, Belaya said they encountered long lines of cars and they had to walk 30 kilometers to cross into Poland.
“It was very, very hard because I don’t know (the) Polish language. I don’t know Poland at all. I have only money for several weekends to live, for this money with my child. It’s like something very unknown to me and because of my child I made this step. I couldn’t let my husband go for very long period of time. We were crying, we were hugging,” she said.
“I realized that I must stay strong for my daughter. It’s a big mission for me to protect my daughter.”
Belaya said her daughter asks every day when daddy is going to be with them. She texts her husband constantly to check he is still alive, she said.
For now, she’s living day by day in a hostel with about 40 other refugees, including children, with only the clothes she has on her back. She said her daughter has made some friends and it’s like a kindergarten there. They’re holding out hope that one day their family will be reunited.
“We must survive, and I think that Ukraine has a big future,” she said.
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