Viktoriia refugee mother fleeing Ukraine to Poland with her two children

“In Ukraine, everyone stays until the last moment”

“In Ukraine, everyone stays until the last moment,” says Viktoriia, a mother of three fleeing violence in Ukraine with her two youngest children. 

Viktoriia’s shock is written across her face. Standing in a refugee shelter in Iasi, Romania, she is over 500 kilometres away from her home near Kyiv. This is the first time in her life that she and her two young children have stepped outside of Ukraine.  

Tears well in her eyes, as her composure crumples with grief.  

“No one wants to leave… but when the bombing is just hundreds of metres from your home, it is impossible to stay.” 

For ten days, Viktoriia, her husband and their two young children lived out of hastily packed bags in a freezing basement on the outskirts of the besieged capital. With little more than the clothes they were wearing to protect them from the snow and below-zero temperatures. 

Then flu ravaged their makeshift home, which was without heating or protection from the icy weather, and the time came to travel south-east. Her husband drove the family for seven hours, through Moldova and dropped them off in the small university town of Iasi, 26km inside Romania. He then returned to Kyiv. 

Paradoxically, Viktoriia still considers herself lucky. Her eldest daughter is waiting for her, 900kms away in Warsaw.  

Viktoria a young refugee from Ukraine sits in on her makeshift bed in a warehouse in Romania
Veronika, her mother and brother are currently staying with more than 400 refugees at a warehouse and office centre in Iasi, Romania after fleeing Kyiv. Because they had to pack light, Veronika left behind her favourite stuffed bear. She brought a smaller one but misses the other one as the one she brought is not large enough to cuddle with when she is feeling sad.  

 

Viktoria wells up again as she tells us how she tries to contact her husband and her only brother back in the Ukraine every day. She does not know when or where they will be reunited again or what will await them if they are ever able to return home. 

Her younger children, she says, are still mercifully oblivious to the family’s displacement. “How can young ones understand? It is the adults who know…”  

Viktoriia’s is just one story.  

Displaced children’s futures are as uncertain as the journey ahead of them. Refugee children often miss months of school – an education already interrupted by two years of the pandemic. They face ostracism, a new language barrier and the trauma of both the violence they have experienced and that of an unsure future.  

With your help, World Vision can help families to find safety and stability in uncertain times. We have over 70 years of experience offering support to the world’s most fragile communities.  

How can I help children and families made vulnerable by this crisis? 

Donate to help children and families forcibly displaced by the crisis in Ukraine. 

Pray for peace to be restored quickly and that children and families will be protected from harm. 

Advocate add your voice to call for peace in Ukraine and protection for affected children and their families. 

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