Displaced Ukrainians search for stability

It doesn’t matter how old you are, but you feel like a child when you start your life in another country

“I woke up on my birthday and got a gift from Russia,” said Maryna Nozhka. “A rocket hitting my neighbourhood.”

Nozhka is originally from Nikolaev but lives in Kyiv, Ukraine. She is currently a salesperson for an international automotive parts company. She recited a beautiful poem on the situation of the Russia-Ukraine war.

“Every morning after the air strike and shelling, the poem circulates on the internet. That’s okay airstrike. All get ready as sirens all get ready. Okay, all clear today. It is not here. It is not you because it’s somebody else. With a thought like that, today is to me gift. It’s not me today, it is a building in another neighborhood of Kyiv. That does not mean it can’t be me any morning.”

UNHCR data shows that there were around 3.7 million people internally displaced in Ukraine as of February 2024, since the war has started whereas 6.5 million Ukrainian were recorded as refugees across the globe.

“My grandma wakes up every morning and walks long for water as Russians bombarded our water supply plant,” said Maryna.

“It’s been two years. Still people need to take bottles and walk for so long to fill them and a lot of international companies have left their production in Ukraine after the war started, but people still need those products as they are basic needs of their daily life,” she added.

According to her, In Kharkiv, schools were built out of shelters to educate children. Some schools are working but children have to immediately rushed to the shelters after the air sirens.

Flags on the memorials of Ukrainian soldiers in Kyiv. Photo: Maryna Nozhka

“There are memorials where just flags are waving, full of bodies and every flag indicates how much life has been taken by Russians from those who were defending Ukraine while fighting against them during the war,” said Maryna.

The Russia-Ukraine war had led Ukraine to become one of the biggest country from where people have migrated to another country. The number shows that nowadays Ukraine, Syria and Afghanistan hold around 52 per cent of refugee population globally.

Alona Tonkhykh. Photo: Alona Tonkykh

‘It doesn’t matter how old are you. You still feel like a child who starts from zero when starting your life in a different country,” said Alona Tonkykh, a web designer in Vienna, Austria, who left Ukraine after the war started.

“When the last thing you saw in your country is awful before leaving, you have that picture all the time,” said Alona. She expresses the pain she had to face leaving her country during the war and believes she still has to face her past.

“You can learn the language, you can have a job, but you always will feel like a stranger,” said Alona.

The war has had a psychological impact on her, leading her to stop following the news as it caused her great distress seeing verything she loved and memories destroyed.

“I want to go home, but nobody knows when the war will end,” she said. “I don’t know when the war between Russia and Ukraine will end and what kind of person I will be when the war is over, but I want to go home when the war is over.”

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