07.    Polina (Kharkiv)

I was the deputy manager of a solar energy company, and I ran my own little travel agency and an online shop selling dancewear. I was also involved with the Women in Politics initiative and I even ran for city council. But overall you could say I lived an ordinary life: I was working, raising my children, travelling...

In those first days of the war, we came to know our new reality… the walls and windows shaking day and night… long queues and bare shelves… enemy planes overhead at night… hearing the rumble of tanks and not knowing if they were ours or theirs. The nights were the hardest. We slept in our clothes and shoes. You were woken by the shells whistling past your house, the blasts shook your walls, and you didn’t know what to do. We felt this would surely end soon… We live in a civilized world, it’s the 21st century, how could this happen? But little by little we started to adjust... I volunteered, made food for the guys manning the checkpoints, donated to the military like everyone else.

My story’s no different from so many others. You know you have to keep moving forward despite everything, you can’t throw up your hands. You adapt to the new reality and start your life afresh, in a foreign country, with a different culture, a different language, and no relatives to support you… But you’re not alone. Because there are people around you who try to help, who stand for decency and justice – and who believe in Ukraine’s victory. 

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