In March 2022, Anastasiya made the difficult choice of sending her children, Khrystyna (18) and Denys (12) away as the fighting in Ukraine grew closer and closer to their village. Anastasiya, who worked as a cook at a school, stayed behind to provide aid to those in need and to help evacuate people. It was an extremely stressful situation; the village was without internet for three days which made co-ordination difficult. It wasn’t long before Anastasiya realised she too needed to leave.
“OUR VILLAGE WAS DESTROYED, AND MANY PEOPLE DIED. WHEN WE LEFT THE VILLAGE BY BUS, WE PASSED A COLUMN OF SOLDIERS WHO STARTED SHOOTING. WE SAW CRUSHED HOUSES, AND CHILDREN ON THE BUS WERE SCREAMING A LOT. OUR BUS WAS FULL OF PEOPLE – THEY WANTED TO TAKE EVERYONE WHO WANTED TO LEAVE.”
Anastasiya spent 12 hours on the road, and continued to travel to safety the next day. She had no money to pay for transport, or relatives with whom she could seek refuge. “I was driving to nowhere,” she says.
Fortunately, people from her village suggested she remain with them, and she initially lived with several strangers. Her children Khrystyna and Denys later joined her and they found somewhere separate to live.
Denys has made friends and is able to continue his hobbies of fishing and riding his scooter. But he children’s education has been disrupted; Khrystyna didn’t get to enjoy the graduation from her secondary school that she’d been looking forwarding to. Denys is currently in the process of registering at a new school as he doesn’t enjoy online learning.
“I miss everything we had in the past. Work, friends, home, my job… we dream that the war stops and never starts again,” says Anastasiya. Many of the family’s friends have gone abroad with no plans to return to Ukraine any time soon.
The family is grateful for Lumos’ help in providing emergency support including food and medical items, but they’re worried about the dropping temperatures, and Anastasiya is struggling to find work.
“It’s very difficult,” Anastasiya says. “We’ve got a house to live in, but we need firewood as it’s freezing here. I can’t save money to buy a car, or even firewood. As soon as I’ve saved some money together, one of us gets sick, or something else happens. Winter is coming – we need shoes, clothes… we left everything at home.”
Thanks to our generous supporters, Lumos is helping families like Anastasiya’s prepare for the coming winter, but there are many more families who need urgent support.