Torn between wanting to stay and having to go
When the escalation of conflict in Ukraine began, it took Vira* a few days to decide whether to leave her home in Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast with her children.
But the opportunity to leave came suddenly when her friends told her they were going to Romania. They told her, “Pack your things, we're going tomorrow." But as the crisis quickly escalated, only a few minutes later they returned and said, "Pack your things, we're going in two hours!"
Vira only had a chance to pack her bag with the most essential items.
Taking only the basic things
Vira remembers the day clearly. “I had a sort of panic attack. I was afraid of the border, and I didn't want to leave Ukraine.”
She wanted to take many things with her. “But you decide it's not needed and you take only the basic things, warm clothes for kids. You don't take anything special for yourself.”
Vira shares that she only packed for a few days, having no plans to stay away for too long. “We went to spend three days here … We didn't think it will take long, so we took only the basic things – documents, some food for our journey.”
A difficult goodbye
A nurse and a mother of two young children – three-year-old Marta* and six-month-old Alona* – Vira had a good life in Ukraine. With her husband working abroad as a humanitarian aid truck driver, they lived together with her parents.
When it came time to leave, the hardest part was saying goodbye to them. “They won't leave, even in a critical situation. My mother [who works as a paramedic] will go to help. [Leaving is] out of the question … I'm torn apart, I have to stay and I have to go.”