Life, upended: Nine stories from Ukraine’s refugees on starting over after fleeing Russia’s war

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It has been nearly a year since the world woke up to war in Ukraine. The Globe kept in touch with 19 refugees who left in the first weeks of the war. Here are their stories, struggles and life-altering journeys.

‘Sometimes when I sleep, I see dreams that I’m already at my home. I see it like it’s reality. It’s so sad when you wake up and you’re not at home.’‘This word, to hope, believe. It’s really important thinking.’ – Olena Tsebenko

The morning had been a blur – the race out of Lviv after the first bombs hit the city and the brief stop at Andrii’s parents’ house in Sambir. Olena saw the fear in the face of Andrii's mother as she begged them to go to Poland: “Today rockets are falling down and we don’t know what will happen tomorrow.”Mapping the journey: Ukraine to PolandShow the journey

The family at a restaurant in Przemysl. Andrii, 32, left Ukraine only hours before he would have been mandated to stay.It has been nearly a year since the world woke up to war in Ukraine. We kept in touch with 19 people who left Ukraine in the first weeks of the war. They come from all walks of life and they’ve endured varying hardships. But each one has seen their life change forever.‘God gave us what we have now. Everybody is waiting for something better.’ – Halyna Lazar

As the family fled, the line at the Polish border seemed to go on forever. Halyna hoped the few snacks she brought would be enough for Eva, Lisa and the friends they’d crammed into the car. But on the third day, they had nothing left. Just as Halyna began to panic, she noticed people coming out of their homes along the highway, handing out food to everyone in line. “A miracle,” she said, smiling.

Eva loved the Ukrainian school in Przemysl. She loved her new friends. She loved feeling safe, and she found herself skipping and singing down the sidewalk for the first time since the bombs. Halyna Lazar and her daughters Eva and Lisa stayed in Ostrow, Poland, for a short time before moving on to Przemysl. Disoriented, Halyna struggled after fleeing Ukraine.

When the first bombs fell and the Russian soldiers began advancing on Irpin, they had to pack in a hurry. Varvara wanted to take her pet rabbit, Korgik. He’d been a Christmas gift, a special surprise from Santa. The car was jammed but Nataliya couldn’t say no. She tucked Korgik in a cardboard box and made room in the back. “The life of the rabbit was more important than things.”

 

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pwaldieGLOBE Who gives a governments should take care of there own problems before starting war

pwaldieGLOBE West Co's PPL have been pushing 4 peace talks yet west LDRs are pushing to print money & send it away with weapons & censor their own PPL, going on a full yr where co's are in recession/stagflation, PPL lost their rights, & are facing food & energy shortages. RU's war Really?

pwaldieGLOBE Absolutely pure evil. Must be destroyed.

pwaldieGLOBE I think worst is yet to come.

The vast majority of them are women and children. Some found the separation from home too difficult and went back. But most have stayed away and tried to start over.

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