Lada, 20 yo: I was a KNUIA cadet and a future investigator, therefore I heard the first explosions while staying in the university dormitory. Confusion, fear of the future – I had no other emotions. Unfortunately, I had to spend the entire day of February 24 in the basement of the university and only managed to get home a day later.
Until July 2022, I stayed in Balakliya. We went through all the trials of the occupation. I had no plans to evacuate until May because there was my family in town that needed support. I feared uncertainty and leaving home. Still, with the beginning of summer, when the city was shut and fighting took place every day, it became too tough to tolerate everything happening. Therefore, I was very happy to find HTL and safely leave an occupied city.
It was scary to start moving because safe evacuation usually took place on Mondays, and volunteers picked me and my younger sister up on Friday. We stayed with strangers who within a few days became like family to us. But the most frightening thing was going through the occupiers’ posts because I never knew what would happen next. When we finally reached the safe part of Pechenihy, we felt great relief and pain from the difficult journey. Thanks to the volunteers and their work, the evacuation process went smoothly and everything was done for our comfort.
My treasure is my little sister, who was only 10 years old at the time. I felt a huge responsibility for the child who had not yet experienced life but had already witnessed the manifestation of evil in men. I couldn't show my fear or uncertainty because I was there to protect my sister, so I controlled myself.
I am now abroad, but it is difficult for me to regain my sense of security. But therapy and time do the trick. I am grateful that I met incredible people along the way – Volunteers who did everything possible to save each life. I will never forget how, during a bus trip from Pechenihy to Kharkiv, some girl carried with her a ferret, which, perhaps, was also the happiest, finally feeling safe.