Following our Ukraine-focused Monthly Team Meeting in early March, we sat down with Alina to speak to her a bit more about how she was doing, and about what being Ukrainian means to her right now. These are her words.
I’ve been living in Kyiv for almost 7 years now. When I first moved there I was fascinated by its beauty. My friend who had been living there for a long time said that I would get used to it, and that I would stop noticing everything I liked about it. That never happened. Every time I walked the Kyiv streets I felt lucky that I got to live there. Every time I came back from trips to other countries, I felt happy to land at home. In Ukraine, people learn from other countries and cultures but still cherish their own heritage. Being Ukrainian means that even if all the borders were open to us (something Ukrainians have been dreaming about for a long time), the place you want to be with all your heart is back home.
I put my AirPods in and turned on a Headspace meditation … I wondered, “if there are going to be air raid alarms, maybe I won’t hear them with my AirPods in”.
The night before Russia attacked Ukraine, I couldn’t fall asleep. I thought that was just anxiety from the news nagging me. I put my AirPods in and turned on a Headspace meditation, which I had to listen to 3 times before I could ‘switch off’. I wondered, “if there are going to be air raid alarms, maybe I won’t hear them with my AirPods in”. When I woke up, I saw calls from my family and messages about the news: “Ukraine announces a military state”. I called my mom and she was panicking, saying it had all started. The war that we’d been afraid of for the past two months entered our lives.
We spent a day and a half in the underground parking because of constant air raid sirens alarms. I felt like my life had stopped. All that I’ve been building for the last 30 years.
I started packing my emergency backpack using the list I had created ahead of time (it helped to fight my anxiety). And then I stopped for a moment and cried. This was probably the scariest thing I could ever imagine. I bought food for us and for our elderly neighbour. We spent a day and a half in the underground parking because of constant air raid sirens. I felt like my life had stopped. All that I’ve been building for the last 30 years. My normal life stopped. The next afternoon, we fled Kyiv with our friends. The road was long, tough, and scary – especially when we heard air raid sirens in the small cities at night.
Now, I’m in the western part of Ukraine trying to work and support my country by any means available (at least by paying taxes and donating funds). I don’t have future plans, I am just planning one day at a time. And looking forward to democracy, freedom, and life to win. I’m looking forward to peace, to being able to complain about regular everyday stuff, as all people do.
If you’re interested in reading some of the other stories we have shared from our Ukrainian team members, you can find them here.
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