Voices from Ukraine – Yuliia

“I consider myself a very independent mother. Before the war started, I was raising three kids while in a leading position at an insurance company. My husband was an adventurer with a full-time job. We just moved into our new apartment a year before. Everything was going so well… We were an active family, always on the move. A week before the war started, we were on a skiing trip in the Carpathian Mountains. We arrived back from our trip at two am, we put the kids to sleep and, at five am, the phones started to ring. That’s when the war officially started. Many of our friends lived close to Borispol Airport, which was bombed first, so they were first to spread the news. Despite all the initial panic, we spent that day as if everything was normal. Everyone was in denial. The streets were infused with a sense of confusion, but everything was just weirdly normal. By the evening, I heard that many of our friends were preparing to leave Ukraine. By the second night, my husband packed his military bag and we moved all the beds into the hallway. The next morning, my husband told me that it was his duty to sign up for military service. There was no time for pleading or crying. I put on a brave face and I drove him to the military base and we said our goodbyes… My husband fought in the war in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea. He was trained in case Russia attacked Ukraine again. He loves adventures. He used to discover caves and climb mountains. He was always on the go, even before I met him. I was used to him going off on his own. However, this time, it felt different… On the way home, I saw people buying bulks of food. I filled my tank and I also stocked up on food. By then, the news was talking about a crisis coming. I remember hearing some explosions and sirens in the distance, but they still felt as if it was all happening somewhere else. Somewhere very far away. Soon after I got back home, my husband called and said that in one hour we must be ready to leave.”

“We drove to the local Evangelical Church which had a shelter. We spent four days there before we got the opportunity to leave for Ireland. My cousin lives in Ireland and his mother was in Kyiv when all this was happening. He asked me to take my kids and his mom and go to Poland and, from there, we’d take a flight to Ireland. It’s all very blurry now, but it was at that moment that I decided to leave Ukraine. I was able to convince my mother to come with us. My father said he would not leave his two sons behind, so he stayed while my brothers joined the army. We had a big car, a seven-seater, so I was able to take my children, my mom, my sister-in-law, my aunt, and a friend with me. It’s been over seven months trying to manage my work and our lives from a hotel room. Most of my clients are in Ukraine. A lot of my business has been affected by the war so I had to take up another job here. I work as a waitress in the hotel’s restaurant. We are trying to get used to this, but it’s very difficult. We really miss home but I am very grateful for Ireland. It’s a beautiful country with wonderful people. At the beginning of every month, our keys to the hotel room stop working and we have to go and check in again. It’s now been seven times that the keys have stopped working and every time my heart drops. It’s weird to count time this way. I don’t think I will ever get used to it. I always considered myself a strong and independent woman, but I am losing my confidence and I cry often after the kids fall asleep. My husband got a break from the army for the first time in months. We will be able to travel to Ukraine to see him for a few days. I am very excited, but also frightened for the moment when I will have to put on a brave face and leave him behind once again.”

This story was highlighted by North Clondalkin Library. The project was made possible using Dormant Accounts Found (DAF).