It's much better to be out in nature than stuck in a garage

Children who have fled Kharkiv share their dreams

29 June 2022

Kira is 14. She had lived in Kharkiv for her whole life, and dreamt about pursuing higher education, and working in the hotel and catering business. Until February 24th she had the life of a typical Ukrainian teenager, with school, math lessons, bead weaving, and dance classes. But when the war started, she, her 12-year-old brother Yehor and their parents had to leave their home city.

"A building of a college, which I wanted to apply to now has no roof and its floors are ruined. Our apartment has also been destroyed. The thing I miss the most back home is my room. I also miss my friends very much," Kira says.

Kira, 14 y.o.

"But it's much better to be in nature, than being stuck in a garage," adds Yehor. 

The last time Yehor and his sister saw their friends was in March. Most of them have fled Kharkiv too — some found a safe place in western Ukraine, while others have moved abroad and there are those whose whereabouts are unknown.

As soon as the war started, the family moved into their tiny underground garage.

"When we entered the garage for the first time, there was a lot of sand underfoot. We spread foam rubber on the floor to use as beds. Later, my uncle, aunt, grandma, and my cousin joined us. The top of the garage was a little bigger than my room. The basement was the same size, only underground. It was cold at first, but then we started switching on the heater,” - Yehor recalls. 


Kira says she was constantly scared: "Since the first days of the war, there were a lot of explosions and planes were flying around. Ukraine is at war. People are still worrying and panicking. I want things to be as peaceful as they used to be."

Yehor, 12 y.o.

"I miss home the most. We can't go back as gunshots are still firing there. I saw photos of our house with many of its windows broken. I also know there was a fire there recently. I wish all the kids around the world to always come back to their homes. For myself, I wish the war to end," says Yehor. 

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), more than half of Ukraine’s 7.5 million children have been forced to leave their homes because of the conflict. Among them are 1.8 million children who are now refugees living abroad, while 2.5 million boys and girls are internally displaced.

UNICEF continues to call for peace and protection of children.