This is a personal project based on the stories of Ukrainian refugees. I've collected them personally and had their real apartments as inspiration. Some of the homes are already destroyed. It's a deeply emotional project as I'm also a refugee and had to leave my apartment in Kyiv. I miss my city and my home very much, and I wanted to express that in my illustrations.
Approximately one-quarter of Ukrainian total population had left their homes by 20 March 2022. 90% of refugees are women and children.
"I left Kyiv for Kamianets Podilskyi. Unfortunately, I took almost nothing with me. Because I packed my backpack for the night in the subway bomb shelter, but as it turned out, I had to go to another city. I only had documents, a laptop and a cat with me. Some acquaintances gave me clothes.
I miss home very much. I didn't take anything dear to my heart. I frequently have dreams of my apartment: I see my favourite things, water the flowers, and look out the window at the city landscape. I remember where I left almost every little thing. But all my flowers are already dead. And I still can't force myself to buy extra clothes because I only want the ones I left at home.
I don't want to admit that I am so attached to material things, but it still hurts. I moved into my apartment six months ago. And I spent a long time arranging everything to my liking. It only just started to feel like my home.
Lesia (the illustrator), while I was writing this to you, I read on the news that a rocket was shot down a block from my house on Svyatoshino. But the wreckage still did damage to my building.
You have to say goodbye and be ready to lose it all."
"I did not take my childhood photos and did not have time to digitize the video from the tapes, where so many childhood memories are. The house burned down, and with it, a part of me did the same.
Direct hit, no roof, windows burnt out. It hurts to understand that you are unlikely to be able to return, that only walls remain from the once warm and large home.
I left all my valuable memories accumulated over the years, 3 photo albums, 6 cassettes, an envelope with various checks, notes, tickets, my favourite herbarium, and drawings. My city is destroyed, my school, my favourite places. A feeling of emptiness, as if I had been erased as if the past never existed.
Everyone says it's life from scratch. But it's hard for me to realize that I have nothing else. The only thing that pleases me is that I found a couple of old photos in the archives of my phone. They will warm my soul and give me hope."
"That night we learned that martial law was introduced in the country. And this means that I have to cross the border alone with my daughter. I categorically refused this idea and we decided to head west with my husband. I was afraid that the roads would be shelled, and then I looked at the back seat, where my daughter comfortably sat and was just happy about the trip. I could not comprehend this new reality.
When we arrived at our destination, I felt a mixture of incredible relief and great sadness. All the books I carefully chose, all my perfumes and essential oils, and my favourite cup remained at home.
But of course, the saddest thing is that everything we created and worked for our daughter was left behind. When we left, I threw a few of the first-best toys and one book into her backpack. And that's all. The rest of the things remained. Already in a new place, I was disappointedly unpacking my suitcase and scolding myself for being so short-sighted.
On the move, we tried to be our daughter's shelter from reality. We entertained her, played with her, gone for walks. She is happy where we are. But it is incredibly difficult for me to accept this happiness.
There are nights when I cry over my peacefully sleeping daughter. I always wanted a wonderful life for her, and this world turned out to be completely different. The feeling of my helplessness and the impossibility to change the situation at all is killing me.
The day before yesterday, my daughter (she is almost 3) learned to say "Air-raid alarm". The daughter looks at me with her sincere gaze. And I look at her in response and understand that I cannot guarantee her what every mother is obliged to give her child. Safety."
More than 4.5 million Ukrainians have returned to Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion. But not all of us have someplace to return to. Parts of our country are occupied. Some are completely erased from the face of the world.
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