- March 9, 2022
About the War in Ukraine from the First Hand
Ina Vuich along with her mother-in-law Halina Vuich, daughter, and son, as well as her friend and her two children, fled from Ukrainian Vinnytsia to Lithuania. They took up residence in Trakai at Vytautas Zalieckas, owner of the agritourism farm Vytauto Kaimas.
People live in shelters, basements
“Ukrainian cities look very different now. Nowadays people live in shelters, basements, in subway stations. That’s where the children are born too. When we were leaving Ukraine, our husbands remained there, to defend their city, their fatherland. Our husbands have never had a gun in their hands. However, when the war broke out, men consider it their duty to defend their home. But to fight at peace, they send their wives, children, and mothers far away from war, to ensure their safety” tells Ina Vuich to Kurier Wileński.
She says it’s really hard to give up everything, but in this situation, one does not think about all the possessions left behind.
Their life was left there.
“Everything was left there. Our life was left there” cries Ina.
They gathered their things in a hurry because explosions could still be heard, Russian soldiers kept on attacking. For some time the whole Vuich family lived hidden in the basement of their parents’ house outside the city.
They sit in the basement for several/few days
“All of us sit together in the basement for several days. We were scared, we did not understand what was going on, we did not know what to do. We needed a few days to recover and make a decision to run away. The news were getting more and more worrisome and in the span of half an hour, we decided to run away” Ina Vuich recollects the events.
Road to Poland was very hard
The woman says the road was very hard and dangerous. This was the first time the women traveled so far away without their husbands. The queue at the border is about 25 kilometers, filled with children and women waiting in cars. The family rode to Poland for 48 hours. It was only when they crossed the border that they felt relieved and safe.
The men hardly speak
“Our men hardly say anything, they are very serious. When I call my husband, he does not talk to me about anything. The texts I receive are much alike: I’m alive, healthy, the night went on normally, we’re defending the home, our apartment is still standing, I’ve fed the cat” she tells with tears in her eyes.
Halina Vuich says that her son stayed in Ukraine. The mother did not want to leave the country, she did not want to leave him.
“I told him that I won’t go anywhere, I’m staying with him. I understand: he the man, he has to take care of the family, secure them. I’ve kept saying that I want to be with him, there’s a lot of women like me there, a lot of our friends stayed there. Now my friend collects duvets for volunteers, for soldiers. The fact that my son isn’t here is what hurts me the most” says bitterly mother Halina.
Gunshots do not stop in cities
In Ukrainian cities, gunshots do not stop. Thousands of people leave their houses, residential blocks, schools, and buildings of public institutions are destroyed. Dead bodies lay on the streets, there are wounded everywhere, cries and screams can be heard.
“The view of Ukrainian streets is horrifying. Injured people with sick kids sleep underground, in basements or subways. It’s frightening… You’re constantly listening for another bombing, the sounds of military aircrafts flying above your head. It cannot be conveyed in words. Being there, I, as a mother, feared more for the safety of children and grandchildren than mine. Of course, I’m glad that my grandchildren and daughter-in-law are safe, but my heart bleeds every time I think about my son still being there, far away from us” confesses Halina Vuich.
Road like in war movies
To Halina, the road from Ukraine to Poland looked like the ones featured in scary war movies, where sentenced people walk to their death.
“When we were saying goodbye, they promised we’ll meet again – and you believe these words. But it’s getting harder to believe that we will see each other again” says Halina Vuch.
Thank for help
With tears in their eyes, Ukrainian women thank for help.
“They are wonderful people, hospitable, honestly worried about us; they are upset as well, and then you begin to understand that you’re not alone, that you have someone who will help. It helps us not only materially, but also psychologically. We feel people worrying about us, thinking of us. I didn’t even think it can be like this. Complete strangers took care of us by creating wonderful living conditions and providing help in everything. We are so grateful to people who welcomed us to their houses, as well as those helping our fellow countrymen. May God Bless you for your goodness” thanks Halina Vuich.
Lithuanian citizens are not indifferent to what is happening in Ukraine
Almost nine out of ten Lithuanians agrees that we need to help Ukrainian war refugees in finding a safe shelter. Over half of them declares to provide temporary shelter in their own houses to Ukrainians fleeing from war. Over a thousand people from different Lithuanian cities have already offered their homes, and the number is still growing.
Avoiding the subject
“I try to not bring up the subject of war, because whenever we start talking about it, their eyes get teary. We’re doing our best not to reopen this wound and to integrate them with us, to help them feel better. Of course, we sometimes talk to them about war, but very discreetly, because, as they say, the hardest was to leave one’s house and just drive off” told us Vytautas Zelieckas, owner of the agritourism farm Vytauto Kaimas who took care of Vuich family.
Fr. Górlicki took care of the Ukrainian family
Father Prelate Wojciech Górlicki, parish priest at Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Vilnius, “Pole of the year 2020,” together with his parishioners took care of one of the first families fleeing from war in Ukraine. The family is scared and in great shock.
“The family consists of mother, daughter, and daughter’s son, so grandson. They come from around Lviv, and came to us on Sunday, after driving for two nights. They were walking on foot for 11 kilometers. Their men are in Ukraine. In order to save themselves and the child, they arrived in Lithuania and are now safe, but naturally, in this sort of situation they are also full of anxiety about their loved ones, about their family” says fr. Górlicki during the conversation with our press journal.
War in Ukraine, escape to Poland, war victims, Ukrainian refugees, family tragedy, help from Lithuania,
Translated by Sonia Dados within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.