Stories Of Hope and Hardship On The Ukraine War Anniversary

Forced to leave their homes and their loved ones, refugees of the war in Ukraine share their stories on the anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion.


When Russia launched its latest invasion of Ukraine one year ago, millions of people were caught in the middle of the conflict.

PODAJ DALEJ/ Doctor Piotr Janaszek PAY IT FORWARD Foundation is one of the many nonprofits that mobilized to provide relief to Ukrainians escaping the conflict. They helped people with disabilities evacuate from war zones and welcomed them in Poland. The organization provided temporary boarding in an accessible hostel, food, medical supplies, coaches, physiotherapists, and psychologists as refugees rebuild their lives. These are the stories of six people they supported.


    I was making dinner for my family. The kitchen table on which I was preparing pielimieni (a type of Ukrainian dumplings) is opposite the window. Suddenly there was a swish, a terrible bang I don’t remember much because I fell under the table. When it calmed down a bit, I looked out the window and saw only the ruins at my neighbor’s. I could hear women crying, men screaming that someone was left under the rubble… The next day on the internet on the rehabilitation and volunteer group, I asked if they would take us to Poland from this hell. The answer came the same day. In the morning we were already packed.


    We were able to take a few pictures from our home in Ukraine, the rest is in our hearts and heads. The place to live is where the family is. For me, family is the most important thing, and the fact that we’re alive, that we’re together.


    The war took us terribly by surprise. Mentally but also physically. We live in a tiny house in the suburbs, without a basement, and therefore, without a shelter. We survived all the bombings at home, lying flat on the floor under the table. Bomb alarms sometimes lasted all night. So I would crawl out from under that table to bring something to eat… War is terrible.


    It was hard to pack up and leave everything. But there was no way out. Paradoxically, it wasn’t Ukrainians who helped us to escape from Ukraine, but Poles, my close rugby friend Sebastian, who helped us to get in touch with the PAY IT FORWARD Foundation. Here we have peace, safety, rehabilitation, normal life…

    There is no point in waiting and waiting for the end of the war, we have to live here and now.

    Support refugees and the community-led efforts that continue providing relief on the Ukraine war anniversary.


    My grandparents come from Armenia. Many years ago they fled from there to Ukraine for a better life. Now, when it came to running away again, they said no. They want to stay in Ukraine until the end of their days, no matter what. I miss them, I miss my old grandmother, I miss the house we bought with such difficulty. Fortunately, the house still stands, so we have somewhere to go and we have each other, which is the most important thing, because together it is easier and love is more important than anything


    I am 61 years old, and I no longer have dreams. Since the war broke out, I have stopped dreaming. I live from day to day. But I do have wishes. I wish that I could wake up every morning and drink coffee, talk to a nice person, read a good book, play the guitar, eat something good, and fall asleep without fear. This is what I crave every day. Is it too much to ask?

Nonprofit organizations like Pay It Forward have dedicated their services to supporting Ukranians within the country and in neighboring states to help them find some peace in the continued turmoil.

On the one-year anniversary of Russia’s war in Ukraine, support refugees who are rebuilding their lives.


Featured Photo: A shelter for Ukrainians who have lost their homes by Tvoya opora

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