“I heard an explosion and the war had started. We couldn’t believe it. We thought there would be explosions, but that everything would pass in a month.”
37-year-old Sasha is from Luhansk region, where, before the war, she lived with her husband and two children. On 23rd February 2022, everything changed.
“We did not evacuate because we were afraid. It was too scary to go to the evacuation point. Any moment, a fragment from a rocket could fall on our heads.
“We lived for three months without heating, gas, water and electricity. When the gas was turned off, we cooked on the fire in the yard. I was cooking, and explosive shells were flying overhead. Slate fell on my head from the explosions. I remember my husband shouting to me, ‘lie down.’ We could hear explosions. It was really terrible.
Sasha and her family were finally able to flee to safety thanks to a Ukrainian soldier who drove them to the evacuation point in an armoured car. “He died later. But he saved us.
“Then we went to Kyiv. We left without money. We had 2,000 hryvnias on our bank card [around £43]. We didn’t know where to go.”
Finding safety at Depaul’s family hostel
To help prevent homelessness for families like Sasha’s, Depaul Ukraine now operates family hostels in Kharkiv, Kyiv and Odesa. Fortunately, Sasha heard about Depaul’s Kyiv hostel via Facebook. After speaking with a member of the team, she and her family were invited to move in.
“The hostel manager said we can live here for three months. She said that we can adapt and start looking for jobs. There are nice people, and everyone is friendly – no one quarrels with one another. The shower and rooms are always clean here. We love this place.”
Hope for the future
With support from the Depaul Ukraine team, Sasha was also offered a job as a kindergarten teacher. But, after accepting the job, her daughter was hospitalised. Depaul’s manager, Olena, liaised with the kindergarten, who agreed to hold the job for Sasha until her daughter recovered.
“I think we will settle down soon. My husband will find a job. And our children will switch from online education to full-time, face-to-face education. I want to take my daughter Eva to the kindergarten where I will work. And we need our own housing – we can’t live in the hostel forever.”
With a hopeful smile, Sasha concludes, “I think that everything will change.”
Together, we can ensure that more families like Sasha’s have a safe place to call home so please give as generously as you can.