11.    Yevgeniya (Kyiv)

First of all I have to pay tribute to our people. Ukrainians really are an invincible nation. And we’ll never give up, ever! I also want to say a huge thank you to the British people for everything they’ve done for us: for the help and support, for giving us refuge. It really means so much.

Before the war I lived in Kyiv. I was a businesswoman, the manager of two pet shops. I wanted to expand and I was looking into financing options. Well, the war put a stop to those plans…

My journey out... you could write a book about it. I drove with ten cats all the way from Kyiv to Warsaw, a seven-day journey... Seven days in my little car with ten feline passengers... Some nights we spent parked out in a field, shivering in the car. The cats were exhausted, going out of their minds. I was trying to reassure them all, stroking them, talking to them…

We met some wonderful people on the way. In Vinnytsia we stayed with a woman called Lesya… Just an incredible lady who gave us shelter, food… We arrived at night and she picked up all ten of the cats, carried them to her place. And they were scratching her arms, going for her eyes! Ahh… I’m just infinitely grateful to everyone who helped me...

On the 29th of April 2023, my cousin Volodya was killed in action in Bakhmut... I remember him teaching me to ride a bike, I remember his wedding like yesterday... He’d message us from the front line. I told him he should write a book about his experiences. Reading our last messages, I realised that I never said “I love you”. I’ll never get the chance now.

Volodya was many things: a journalist, PR manager, organizer of vintage car shows… and officer of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, call sign “Lightning”. He leaves behind a wife and two young sons.

Volodya! Heroes live forever! And victory will be ours!


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