10.    Kateryna (Kyiv)

Back in Ukraine I was an actress. I worked in films, commercials, the theatre… Acting was my calling and I loved every minute. I had a wonderful husband and children, we owned our apartment, we had exciting trips planned, our days were full of love… and we lived in a free and beautiful country. We had everything we needed for a happy and FULL life!

That first night of the war there was an explosion so loud that I jumped out of bed… I’ve never been so scared in my life, never. With my hands trembling I messaged our local group chat, trying to find out what was happening... We packed a few essentials and ran to a house nearby with a basement. We slept there in cold and terror. I remember the children were so quiet and still... More and more people joined us in the basement. Animals too: dogs, cats, even a tortoise... I felt cut loose from the world I knew… You’d hear from people who were leaving the city, people who were moving in with friends… Where would be safest? Nobody knew.

I crossed all of Europe with the children, first Poland then on to Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France... We had our bulldog with us all the way, which complicated matters... Finally we reached the UK. We were met by our wonderful sponsors, who took us to what would be our new home. It’s been a long, tough, painful time, but I always knew why I had to do this, and who I was doing it for. 
You have to hold on to love. However hard it is, you can’t give in completely to hatred. I draw my strength from music, cinema, walks in the forest, the sounds of nature… and the belief that we’ll return home again.

PERSONAL ITEM: vyshivanka OF HER daughter

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