Lesia’s family are from Bucha, just outside Kyiv which has seen some of the worst atrocities of the war so far. Lesia’s sister and her two young daughters were able to escape after the first days of shelling and armed assaults but her parents were among thousands trapped in cellars with minimal supplies and no utilities or communications. This was a harrowing time for the family – we did not know if they were still alive. After two weeks they were able to escape through the brave efforts of Ukrainian volunteers. Sadly, as I write this I think of the millions of Ukranians that are still living through this terror. Arriving at the border we met Petro and Luda with open arms, a generous and dignified couple who had never hurt anybody in their lives and were part of the fabric of their town, now destroyed by the Russian military. We met with journalists and crew from BBC Panorama and World Service who documented our story, in particular the family reunion and accounts that Lesia’s parents brought as civilians living through the terror of the invasion.
The family reunited. Speaking to BBC World Service on 13th March and Lesia's parents, Petro and Luda speaking on 14th March
With Galya and the girls came Tanya and Melya from nearby Irpin, which has also been devastated. They formed a close unit which we will keep together by welcoming Galya and her daughters to our home in London and ensuring that Tanya and Melya are very close so that they have the option to attend school together. We also helped three students, Marta, Yulia Iryna who were in need of logistical support and a place to stay before moving on to Austria and Germany. Our role was also to provide aid and advice to people in various networks and those in need who we met during our time in Suceava and Siret.
Helping us with a medicine supply run and then walking through the late winter snow
Kate and Petru, some of the boys from Sange Pentru and the brave volunteers in Ukraine