The road from russian occupation to safe Sweden

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Kherson has been under occupation since the first days of the war. Russian tanks entered the city from Crimea. Oksana and her family lived in the occupied area for a month until they felt it unavoidable to leave.

But it appeared not so easy to do. To get to the neighbouring Nikolaev they had to pass many checkpoints — first russian, then Ukrainian. The russian militaries behaved differently: some of them let the cars pass, and others refused to let people leave the territory. In that case, you just had to turn around and go back. It was best to do this quickly, otherwise, the soldiers started firing at the wheels. Oksana and her family made several attempts to leave. The last one, fortunately, was successful. Oksana, her husband, their two sons and all of the family’s animals finally left the occupied territory.

Her husband and their animals stayed in the Nikolaev area, but Oksana and her children continued their journey. They crossed all of Ukraine and then the border to Poland. Oksana’s plan from the beginning was to go to Sweden, as she had some friends here, so she didn’t stay in Poland that long.

She started to look for a place to stay in Sweden while she was still in Poland. Her friends sent her a link to “Swedes for Ukraine”. Oksana registered and in a few days, the hostess of her future home called her. They discussed the details over the phone and, knowing that Oksana and her children now had people waiting to greet them, they continued to Sweden. She booked a ticket for the ferry and wrote to the hostess: “Tomorrow I’m leaving Gdynia.” In a few days, she and her kids were on a farm in Viken, near Helsingborg.

The hostess greeted them more kindly than Oksana could ever expect. She fed them after their long journey, filled the refrigerator full of food, and took care of all the little things they needed. From April 26 until today, Oksana and her sons live in a separate house on the farm. Every day they are amazed by the friendliness of the neighbours: some of them invited them to play tennis, and others organized a pony ride for her children. So in addition to a safe place to live Oksana’s family received a lot of care and attention.

Oksana mentions the joy of people who managed to leave the occupied territories. When they met Ukrainian soldiers at the first Ukrainian checkpoint she remembers a three-year-old boy, who gave his small badge with the Ukrainian flag to the first Ukrainian soldier he met, leaving the Kherson region. The boy was so happy to see Ukrainians and to go under their protection. Oksana remembers this moment and imagines how happy they and, perhaps, that little boy will be to return to their native home, in Kherson with big Ukrainian flags fluttering over the city. But right now she is grateful to Sweden, its people and “Swedes for Ukraine” for the help they have given her,  while all Ukrainians believe in and long for the war to end.