It seemed to last forever: long road to safety

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Olesya and her daughter left Ukraine on the first day of the war. “I didn’t think much, I had to protect my daughter”, she says. Evacuation trains regularly ran from the south of Ukraine, but there were an incredible number of frightened people in those first days. The trains were overcrowded. People rode for several days, sitting in the aisles, sometimes without food or water. But the goal — to save yourself and your children, prevailed.


Olesya had friends in Poland, so at first, her goal was to get there. For two days, she and her daughter traveled by train to Lviv. She remembers how the train stopped in the field at night, the door opened, and the conductor said, “We will stand here for 8-9 hours. The door is open. You can go out and do whatever you want”. It was February 26. These nine hours in the winter in the middle of the field seemed to last forever. A cold and uncertain future. The door finally closed, and the train moved on. They drove for about three hours and stopped again. They were already in a suburb of Lviv, which seemed to accommodate all the refugees at that time.


The third and last stop was at the border into Poland. The main thing was to cross the border — that was the only goal in Olesya’s head. “We will be safe there”, she thought. The passenger documents got checked quickly, and the train moved on. In Poland, Olesya’s friends welcomed them. She and her daughter spent two nights in their home and decided to travel further to another country. Volunteers bought them plane tickets to Sweden.


First, they settled in Malmo. Then they found a place to stay in Lund through Swedes for Ukraine. There, Olesya’s daughter could go to high school, and she started learning Swedish. Life began to return to normal as much as possible under such circumstances. “Just as we arrived in Lviv, we heard an air alert. The station was full of people. Everyone froze and looked at the sky in horror — what would happen now?”, recalls Olesya. A thought that millions of people have thought in such moments. Olesya was lucky. Lucky to survive and lucky to get to Sweden. Now she and her daughter have a chance to get a peaceful and bright future.