My sister Viktoria and her family (her husband, 12-year-old daughter, and in-laws), on February 24th, at 5 AM left their home in Kharkiv possibly forever. After they heard the Russian air attacks, they rushed from their beds, taking just a few bags, passports, and their pets to the suburban area of Kharkiv. They fled to a summer cottage that had a small underground food storage space where 10 other people had found a safe place. For a few days, they thought the war was a mistake and that it would be over soon. They were keeping their plans for a return to their normal life, jobs, and school, until the bombing become more and more regular, getting closer to their shelter. They then decided to evacuate from the summer cottage and were lucky to do so safely. For the next two weeks, they were on an escape mission, five people, suitcases, pets, squished into an old car, under the bombs and coldness crossing the country from Kharkiv in the East to Lviv on the western border. During this time, they found some night stays, shelter, and food from some local people, however, they were able to eat only once a day and haven’t had a full shower yet. On March 14 my sister group finally got to Lviv – the border city with Poland.
Unfortunately, there they were met with air raids! My sister sent me a video where she said that they can no longer hide in the bomb shelters there at night, they are tired, and they don't care what happens to them.
The Russians have now moved their attacks all over Ukraine, including the western region. It is clear nowhere is safe in Ukraine now. They are heading to the Polish border as soon as they can.
For now, they only have what little they could hastily pack. They need money for essentials, food, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, underwear, socks, etc. Many European countries are helping with assistance, but the lines are long, and they are running out of accommodations and supplies to assist families in need.
Vika and her husband will have to separate. Only women and children can leave Ukraine now. Vika’s husband Yanis, who is a dentist, is going to attempt to take his elderly parents (his father has muscular atrophy) back East to a place near Kharkiv, where he will volunteer at a local hospital, deliver food to people, help others in any possible way.
My sister Vika and her child will try to cross over to Poland and then onto Austria or any other country in the West where they will then be on their own. Later, if I can get a visa they may be able to travel to the US.
The Russian war is the reason for many deaths, terror, destruction, pain, and family separations. The Ukrainian people have lost everything they had, including the hope for a known, stable future for their children. All are gone now.
P.S. several other family members are staying behind, in Kharkiv due to medical/health reasons. I am also going to help them with support from this fundraiser. Thank you for your kindness and support!!