Ukraine: What would you bring if you had to flee in a hurry? - CARE

Ukraine: What would you bring if you had to flee in a hurry?

Portrait of refugee family

Daria, 30, with daughters Sofiia, 10, and Serafym, 11 months, mother Tetiana, 49, and grandmother Nina, 74, in an emergency shelter in Lviv, Ukraine. Photo by Roman Yeremenko/CARE

Daria, 30, with daughters Sofiia, 10, and Serafym, 11 months, mother Tetiana, 49, and grandmother Nina, 74, in an emergency shelter in Lviv, Ukraine. Photo by Roman Yeremenko/CARE

More than 13 million people have left their homes since the escalation of the war on February 24. Half of these are seeking refuge in Western Ukraine. Most have left everything behind and were only able to take a few essential items with them. Some thought they would be able to return home soon. In times of uncertainty, trauma and fear, it is sometimes the little things that give you hope and strength. Often it is something that reminds you of home. Here are a few people sharing what they were able to bring with them while fleeing from their homes.

Portrait of Daria and family
Photo by Roman Yeremenko/CARE

“We are just glad that we are all together and that we could bring the great-grandmother of my children with us. Also, our dogs give us strength here,” says Daria, 30.

Three months ago, the family fled from Kharkiv to Lviv where they live together in a shelter. Great-grandmother Nina, 74, misses her home. “I miss my garden and my flowers. We had to flee unexpectedly and leave very fast. At that time, I wanted to plant a fir tree. The tree is now waiting in a bucket of water at home.”  

Portrait of Natalia and Kristina
Photo by Roman Yeremenko/CARE

“It is funny, but I only brought a bowl and a knife from home. No one planned to go for a long time, so we didn’t take a lot,” says Natalia, 39.

She fled with her family from Mykolaiv on March 10 and now lives in a shelter in Lviv. “We only had one backpack each with us,” she adds.

Portrait of Kristina
Photo by Roman Yeremenko/CARE

Natalia’s daughter Kristina, 4 brought two of her stuffed animal toys: A cat and a pig. “They are both also called Kristina.” 

Photo by Roman Yeremenko/CARE
Photo by Roman Yeremenko/CARE

Her brother Sasha, 15, brought two comic books, his Rubik’s Cube and some drawing materials. He loves to draw and wants to sell his paintings in an auction. “I want to use the money for my paintings to help children with cancer,” says Sasha.

He himself has suffered from cancer for five years. 

Portrait of Sasha with a painting
Photo by Roman Yeremenko/CARE
Portrait of Maya
Photo by Roman Yeremenko/CARE

“It sounded like rain, but there were no clouds,” says Maya, 62. “When I stepped out onto the balcony a missile flew by. That’s when I decided to flee West.” 

She now lives in a shelter in Ivano-Frankisvsk. She was a singer, but due to COVID, she cannot sing anymore.

Her husband died a few years back. When the war arrived at her place, she was in shock and only took the essentials. The two most precious things that she brought with her are the shirt that she is wearing – it belonged to her husband, and a picture of them together on her mobile phone. 

Photo by Roman Yeremenko/CARE
Photo by Roman Yeremenko/CARE