Karina from Dnipro region, spent her summer helping UA refugees in Poland

On February 16, information about the war appeared on the Internet. No one paid attention, although I was very wary.

Wednesday, February 24, day X. At six o’clock in the morning, as usual, everyone was ready to go to work until they turned on the news; it seemed to me that at that moment, everyone was dreaming of going to school, college, or university.

From that day on, military helicopters, planes, etc., began to fly outside the window. We raised money and collected food for the military. We went to school to weave camouflage nets to protect our city. That’s how seven days of war passed. On the morning of March 4, I planned to weave nets as usual. But instead, my grandmother came to us in a panic and quickly helped to pack things, because at 14:00 there was an evacuation train from our city to Lviv, they said it was the last one so that day a lot of people just didn’t fit into the train, people were fighting just to get on it. My mother and I got into a compartment with ten other people, a dog, and a cat. We traveled for more than 27 hours, had one toilet for 250 people, slept in turn, and shared food and water thanks to volunteers who donated water at some stops; it was very helpful. After arriving in Lviv, we immediately lined up for the Lviv-Przemyśl train. We stayed in line for more than 14 hours without being able to even go to the toilet, and 60,000 people stood in line, according to volunteer estimates. We didn’t make it on this train of hell, so we went to Zakarpattia since we had relatives there and stayed there for a week. On March 11, we left for Uzhhorod, and on March 12, we went from Slovakia to Poland. We had acquaintances there, and they offered us a whole house for free. Knowing the language, my mother immediately found a job, and I went to volunteer. It was not the best volunteering experience; there were many disappointments, such as cheeky people who thought everyone owed them something. I volunteered in Poland for more than a month; I gave out food at train stations, helped with filling out documents, and stayed at refugee shelters since there were the most problems.

On May 28, my mother and I decided to come back home to Ukraine, thinking, “everything will be fine.” On that day, nine cars fully loaded with people with the same thought returned to Ukraine. I have been home for two weeks, and so far, there are no problems with volunteers, so I am spending my summer in peace.