Dear G7 leaders,
Three months ago, I went for a morning run in my home city of Kyiv. That was the last time I would feel normality.
A friend called: “It’s happened - they are bombing Kyiv.” Within 20 minutes, I had my ten-year-old son, two cats, clothes and documents in the car. Fleeing for our lives.
My mum joined us, but dad stayed to defend his city. We left without him. We queued for hours at the border, reaching Moldova at 3am. The stress gave my mother heart issues, hospitalising her. The moment she was strong enough we continued 2,000km to Poland, where friends were offering help.
The people here are so open and friendly. One woman told us: “I have an apartment, you can live there. I will not take any money from you.” She came with mattresses, pillows and kindness. In the face of the very worst of humanity, we have found the very best here. This is not only my story. So many Ukrainians have the same experience. The Polish people work hard, it’s not an easy life but they are ready to share everything with us.
I found a job working for CARE, helping other refugees. It gives me joy. We support them with food, clothes, shelter, education, jobs. 90% of Ukrainian refugees are women, most have children and some of the risks they face are unthinkable. Yet the women come together, helping each other and sending food and medical supplies to family and communities remaining in Ukraine. It is not only men who are fighting – the women are in a battlefield of our own. The worry is exhausting, but we fight on. And we need your help.
Ukrainians will thank the world for the rest of our lives for their support. But the countries with the most refugees, countries along Ukraine’s border, are not the richest countries yet they have taken in most refugees -3.5 million in Poland alone. The people have opened their hearts and homes, but they have needs too. I ask you, G7 leaders, to offer them more support.
Many Ukrainians are risking their lives, returning to Ukraine because of a lack of money. They can’t pay for accommodation, food, public transport. I understand why Poland can’t cover everything for so many. But support from other countries would make a big difference. Please continue to support vulnerable refugees from Ukraine without existing support systems. I never thought I would be a refugee, but now I see the great need for relief for refugees worldwide, no matter which crisis they are fleeing.
Daria Khrystenko, Warsaw, Poland