The war changed my whole life. So for many people, emigration has become the only way to escape. When it comes to women with children with disabilities, it is a very difficult process to leave with such a child, when you are surrounded by war and the road to the unknown. We have helped and are helping such women. Thanks to the financial help of the Belgians, we left Mechelen at 10 am on March 19 and on March 20 we were on the border between Slovakia and Ukraine. Our organizer from Kharkiv, Gavrilyuk Olena, gathered more than 40 mothers with children, many of whom were disabled and autistic. It is impossible to imagine that both mothers and children survived, being in the basement, getting on the terrible road between life and death. Elena herself, with two children aged 11 months and 5 years, was able to support women, give confidence and hope that everything will be fine and everyone will be saved. Our women are incredible, real heroines. And having gathered the whole group in Uzhgorod – 90 people, she was able to organize a joint transition and by the evening we were able to accommodate everyone in our two-tier bus. There was a time when there was not enough space on the bus, several families with children joined us at the border and it was impossible to refuse them, mothers looked at us in despair and fear that we would leave them. And our eternal friends are cats and dogs, without which the children refused to leave home, and took everyone with them. One of our organizers, Radomyr Kurovskyi, stayed in Slovakia to accommodate everyone. As another car from our group with people was driving from Gostomel, a woman was behind the wheel, Radomyr decided to wait for them and drive the car himself to replace her on the way.
That’s how we got there. The road was not easy, but we are infinitely grateful to the Belgians who were with us, our mothers, who were very friendly and helped each other. The children survived the trip, late at night we arrived in Mechelen, the local authorities accommodated all the refugees in hotels. Tired of the war and the road, our mothers and children fell asleep, and in the morning the bus took them to Brussels, for registration after which the Belgians placed everyone in the family. We have become one family, and we support each other, communicating in a joint telegram chat, organizing meetings. Later, other Ukrainians joined us, who came earlier, later than us. If you are in Belgium, we invite you to our team.
Stories of mothers from our evacuation bus
It was like looking into the future and seeing nothing. When your father went to the store, and won’t be able to return. We thought we would be shot. And it was possible. This is our fear of war and it lives on in our hearts to this day My morning of the 24th began with my mother coming into the room and saying, “At 5 o’clock they started bombing the city.” I still did not believe. There were clients in the salon and I was going to go to work in Kiev. I didn’t think it was that serious. Can we be killed in the 21st century just like that? My mother was worried and had to stay. Then they reported on the fighting near Gostomel. Even then, I didn’t want to believe it was so serious. So explosions were heard, so aviation. But we did not want to believe. I thought it was a few days We had potatoes in the cellar and some bread. My father learned that they would give humanitarian aid. And went a kilometer and a half. He didn’t come back for long time. Their cars were driving down the street. There and back, there and back. Such green and people on top. We didn’t even guess what it was. Armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles – these words mean nothing to me even now He returned. No one wanted him to follow the humanities anymore Life was divided into before and after. Crazy nights. But not in heaven, but in hell. It was a test. Around 20-00 it all started. If further, the floor moved a little. Closer, the windows moved. Our euro windows are taped. Which we put with such love. And what right did these people have to go and destroy? These are non-humans! There is no excuse for them Our garden must have blossomed now, and no one at home. In our house, where my grandmother lived. Grandparents built. There are still deserters. They cut someone’s chickens, heat the fireplace and are surprised by the latest news. They drove through the village. We heard the moan of their cars. They saw how they look at the neighbors. Green men were walking down the street. We waited for the shots. Borodyanka used to hum. We thought it was up to us. The Kadyrovites really wanted to find something. But it was not. Everything worked out – they didn’t come to us. We lay on the floor and my mother prayed. She prayed all the time. She prayed for us. Dad crawled on his knees to the kitchen to turn off the gas, because the porridge was cooking on the stove. They did not come. Went on … Nobody knew what they wanted … Don’t eat for sure. Find something … They smashed the gates with a tank where there were no people or it was closed. They knocked out a door or a window. They were looking for something. After that check, I know that one was taken away. They found a photo of the helicopter in the phone. We were all scared, because everyone knew about Bucha, Borodyanka, Irpin. Destroyed everything I always felt like an old man. The skin of the aged face. Slept on the floor in the toilet. Tight …. Dad went to the room after the second night. We are not. We held each other. And they prayed We will never forget. We will never stop hating Russians. We cried. Then. At first couldn’t. My mother recalled how her grandmother and great-grandmother in Polissya hid in a trench in the woods in a blanket at night. Because the Germans could shoot. They were going to the farm during the day. Even then, my grandmother put a piece of bread behind her cheek all her life and ate soup first, and then bread. But the woman also went Golodomor. Now my land, if not killed, is cut. And so deep that to the soul No weapons! No – violence! No – wars! Yes to peace! Yes – a bright future! Yes, the state!
I have always considered myself a strong person. I experienced a lot, saved my child more than once and thought that I could cope with absolutely everything, survive in any situation and all the worst is behind… When at 5 am I saw explosions on the horizon, my world collapsed! First of all, I was afraid for the child, what would she think, how to calm her down? I coulnd’t tell her it will pass… And then I panicked. This state has never been before. It didn’t fit in my head: the 21st century and the war, all dreams and developments go nowhere, Kharkov, which was rebuilt and which we were proud of, was destroyed, many cities no longer exist at all, innocent people are dying, children are dying … In a terrible depression, I just constantly cried sitting in the corridor in an embrace with my daughter and mother. I did not understand what to do, I did not know how to survive and where to seek salvation. My salvation was the charitable organization Ruthenia! The offer to go to Belgium seemed simply unrealistic with my girl (special nutrition, a ban on stress and a change of scenery, constant medication), and besides, there was no way to take my mother with me. But I decided for the sake of the child. The road was long, but the organizers made it as comfortable as possible. We managed and I am immensely grateful to everyone who convinced me to go, who organized the move, who traveled with us – now we are a big family that will do everything so that PEACE comes to Ukraine as soon as possible!
Our girls share their experience of moving and accommodating in Belgium
I’ll tell you how we traveled and what you need to arrange here upon arrival in Belgium. On the evacuation train, we drove from Kremenchug to Mukachevo. There rented an apartment for a day there (it’s better to find it in advance). You can do it for free at the volunteer center, they will feed you and provide you with an overnight stay in a common room, but there is no shower and kitchen, the toilet is on the territory. a lot of humanitarian aid for everyone (diapers, baby food, fruits, sweets, water, juices, etc.) To get through customs in Slovakia as quickly and conveniently as possible, we just got off the bus and asked not to be dropped off, because the children were different , with disabilities, complex diagnoses, babies. Our requests were answered and we were taken as close as possible to the border. From the border we took a bus to the city of Mihailovce. Slovakia met us wonderfully, the people are very responsive, they fed us hot food, gave us coffee, gave the children kinders and toys, helped to transport things across the border, gave free SIM cards with free internet and minutes in Europe, it was possible to take the necessary things from humanitarian aid. In the town of Mihailovce in Slovakia, a large double-decker bus was waiting for us. During the trip, we were provided with food, comfort and everything necessary, there was a lot of humanitarian aid. Upon arrival in Belgium: The bus arrived in the city of Mechelen (Mechelen) index 2800. This is a town located between Brussels and Antwerp. We were all accommodated free of charge in the hotels of the city (it was a gift from the mayor), the accommodation was handled by the chief policeman of Mechelen. In Brussels, the next day, we were all brought to the Registration Center and we registered without a queue (usually it takes a whole day, the queues are long, but now they have already made an appointment for registration). In the same Registration Center, everyone was settled in different cities in families. Of course families live together. Here it is immediately better to take a Belgian SIM card for free and, if necessary, a humanitarian aid. Accommodation, electricity, gas and more – free of charge. We were provided with basic necessities, food, clothes, but it’s lucky for someone, someone buys it himself. We registered at the place of residence in Comune, received an A card (status of a temporary military shelter). According to it, we can stay in Belgium until everything in Ukraine is rebuilt. At least a year. Then you can extend or re-register for refugee status. You also need to open a bank account and health insurance, which will reimburse funds for medical care and drugs. Now you need to learn French intensively (there are free courses), and then you can look for a job, the labor exchange is very developed here. I found a specialized school in French for Klim and they took us to it. There are schools in French and Dutch. You need to directly contact the principal of the school and ask if there is a place and if they can take the child to school (I wrote a letter to the school’s email and we were invited for an interview). According to the documents: type A card, this card entitles you to absolutely the entire list of insurance, provision and services as for an ordinary Belgian. This means that there will be insurance for all medical expenses. Covers approximately 80% of the cost of all services. We left only with Ukrainian documents without international passports (Ukrainian passport and child’s birth certificate).
Ukrainian Committee of Refugees
At the moment, I am very satisfied with the choice of the country and the reception that we received here. The Belgians are very responsive people, they try to help us as much as possible in everything. I am immensely grateful to all the Belgians and the Ruthenia Charitable Foundation for such a welcome, support and help 🙏🙏🙏 We were provided with housing, food, help with paperwork, we were given a chance for a normal life and a safe place where our children can live, go to school, receive medical care, and not sleep in basements and wake up from the sounds of explosions.