Irina (35), Miroslava (12)

Wednesday, March 16, 22, Zilina

When you read about the numbers of people who have had to flee Ukraine in the last days since the outbreak of the war, you can hardly imagine how the volume of those people looks like in reality. For me, the image materialized in Zilina. On a large floor of the former office building mattresses were laid out on the ground, the beds were in a large minority. Separated by cloth screens, so that the new occupants of the building have at least some privacy and space to recharge their batteries for the next trip. Some stay for a shorter period of time, some longer. Everyone stays as long as they need. The first days after the arrival are the most difficult, people are coping with a new reality that none of them could imagine would happen. Like Irina, who arrived in Zilina just few hours before my arrival.  

"We ran away mainly because of the children. At home we had to hide in shelters. We kept listening to the sounds of exploding bombs and sirens. You are under enormous stress, you constantly expect the building above to fall down on you. When we hear a louder sound, we are still shaking. I guess we won't forget it so easily. Unfortunately, my husband had to stay at home. Fortunately, he is not fighting yet and we are in daily contact with him via video / Telegram /. From Dnipro (until the Orange Revolution it was Dnepropetrovsk) we traveled to Slovakia by train. We found out that the train had been parked on the wrong platform when we arrived at the station. We had to jump over the tracks and climb to the second platform to get on it. Luckily, there were people who helped us. Fourteen of us were squeezed in one compartment. We traveled to Lviv for twenty hours, from there to Uzhhorod and then we came here, to Slovakia."

"We came last night. We need to rest. We want to stay here for a week, maybe two, and then, if we succeed, we would like to go to Germany. We have an uncle who works there and he promised to find accommodation for us. We would like to return home as soon as possible, but we already know that the war will last longer, not just for a month."

"If I could, I would like to tell the Russians to take it to the streets. You can't overthrow a reign individually, but together you can. After all, the soldiers themselves, many at a young age, do not know where they are and why they came to Ukraine. They also don't want to fight, they think they're just on a military training."

"I would like to thank to everyone who helps us. We have things to eat, it is warm here, we also get enough of smiles, we have everything we need. Children also like it here. We only have few things in our suitcase that is just enough for us to change. My daughter has a backpack with clothes for two days. But as I say, people help us, we don't need anything else yet."