Voices from Ukraine – Alla

Pictured here is Alla Hamad in her Dublin Hotel room.

“There is this famous painting from the Second World War from a Ukrainian painter. One day, about five years ago, I came across it online and it really stuck with me. It’s a painting of a warm late summer’s morning with a couple sleeping on their bed and a small baby beside them. The window is open behind them and the sky is full of military planes arriving. I came across this painting many times in my life since and it always made me wonder. My husband is a Palestinian refugee and he told me a lot about what it was like living in a war. I felt a sense of connection and empathy with the couple, despite never having experienced war before. But then, one morning my husband woke me up and whispered: ‘Wake up, the war has started!’ As soon as he said those words, this painting jumped into my head. I could not believe it. It was happening to us now… The war started at 5:30 in the morning and many of our friends and relatives went straight into bomb shelters. My husband asked me to start packing while he went to work to get his computer. I think I was in a state of shock. I was sobbing on the phone with my mom while trying to get all our belonging into bags and luggage. As soon as my husband came back, we left our home and went to a relative’s house in the suburbs of Kyiv. There were another 12 people in a small house there. We stayed there for two weeks before my husband asked me if we should leave the country. I remember crying a lot. I didn’t want to leave at all. I remember waking up in the middle of the night, listening to the explosions in the distance and thinking about how I should lie down to cover my daughter better. The explosions and the shootings were becoming louder by the day. Then, one day, we were sitting in the garden when shootings started nearby, followed by a loud explosion. My husband shouted: ‘Lay down! Lay down!’ I jumped up and covered my daughter with my body on the ground…I never felt so scared! After that moment, I understood that it was time to leave… We were able to come to Ireland because my husband’s sister lives here. You know, I heard so much about Ireland and had always dreamt about visiting. I watched all the movies, read books, and looked at pictures of beautiful Irish landscapes and nature. I just never thought that we would get here one day as refugees.”

Please help the war efforts in Ukrain by donating to the official sites only like this one: https://prytulafoundation.org/en/home/support_page

Painting: Valentin Fedorovich Papko “Didn’t even dream” The Morning of June 22, 1941