“It’s not just the horrors of war. This is the time of the birth of empowering stories. The most important support for me is sisterhood, the strength of women who understand and help each other”.
Olha, 34, is from Makovyshche, in the Kyiv region. She left Ukraine with her 7-year-old daughter.
My least favorite way to wake up in the morning is getting an early call from family. I have been taking antidepressants for two years now due to anxiety. My dad called me and said, “The war has begun.” It was weird to hear this from him because he always assured me that nothing would happen. We live close to Irpin, Bucha and Gostomel and immediately heard explosions. I was still looking for the strength to joke, I told my husband, “Dear, will you have some coffee, or are you awake enough without it?” We hoped that everything would end soon. After the siren, we had to wake up our daughter, Yasya. We did not want to scare her, but she always asks direct questions, so she immediately understood everything from our serious tone. I quickly gathered up some basic things.
Maybe I should thank my anxiety, because I always must have a plan. The day before, I got some cash, currency, bought energy bars.
When the war started, a friend of mine and a writer Halya Tkachuk invited me to Lviv. The moment a person calls you to his or her place means a lot. Then I received a message from another friend that my daughter should not see the worst things of this war.
We left on the third day because the air defense work was visible all around, and explosions were raging everywhere.
After three weeks in Lviv, I applied for a scholarship in Poland, provided by the Pogranicze Foundation, in the village of Krasnogruda on the border of Poland and Lithuania. Then I felt great anxiety about the future. The plan was to have a literary residence in Latvia, in the house of writers and translators in Ventspils, and then we moved to Krakow. I would like to thank the Poles, all these places of great help, thanks to which we went through another difficult month of our lives abroad.
Also, our sisterhood during literary residences helped in all this. We were like sisters, we cooked together, we cried together. It’s not just the horrors of war. This is the time of the birth of empowering stories. The most important support for me is sisterhood, the strength of women who understand and help each other.
Text by Vira Baldyniuk
An exhibition by the Galicia Jewish Museum,