Aryna, Iryna & Oleksandr

By Iryna Paltseva

What would you pack with you if you only had one backpack and you needed to leave your home maybe for forever? Millions of Ukrainians now know an answer to this uneasy question, because, when Russian invaders came and started shooting innocent people and bombing all the houses they could reach on the way, they were forced to do it. Very quickly.

Unfortunately, I am one of them. Never in my life I would’ve thought I will become a refugee and rush to another country to save my life. Well, as the saying goes, never say never.

Today, everyone who follows world events at least a little, knows where Ukraine is and what is happening there. It wasn’t always like that. All my life I have lived in a very calm, relatively small country, where nothing significant happens, and life obeys a calm and somewhat boring rhythm. And it seemed that it would always be so. Looking back, I can say with confidence – I was so happy! Now I understand that it was so stupid to worry about little things, and I would gladly go back to those old “problems” of mine.

But everything changed in one day. February 24, 2022, began unusually early – with the sound of a powerful explosion at 5.30 am when a Russian missile hit an airfield only 15 km away from my town. Then there were 40 days in occupation, panic and an all-consuming fear.

One thing I can say for sure: nothing can prepare you for cruelty of reality. When war comes to your house, everything turns out to be a hundred times worse than you might think. For me, the most terrible thing was complete helplessness, when I realized that myself (and, worst of all, my child) can be killed or raped at any moment, and there is no escape. 

Well, almost 6 months later, I’m among the lucky ones. Here, in Canada, among truly wonderful people, I finally feel safe. Canadians are now collectively performing a miracle – they volunteer time and money, open their homes and souls to those who needs it. Canadians aren’t only helping thousands of Ukrainians survive, but also restoring faith in humanity! But still so many Ukrainians need help, and although there is less and less talk about Ukraine on TV, the war continues, and Putin isn’t stopping.

Iryna Paltseva and her husband Oleksandr and daughter Aryna stayed in Jackson’s Point for one month before moving to Toronto in June to find work. They left Ukraine on April 7, after living under Russian occupation in Melitopol for 40 days. 



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