[Submitted by Vladyslava Vertogradska, LCC student (class of 2022) currently in Ivano-Frankivsk.]
When I was younger, my grandmother told me a story about her colleague from the theatre. Back when World War II started, he was far away from home on a work trip and had little belongings with him. He had no way of getting back home to get his things. Ever since that experience, he always carried a suitcase with some essentials. When asked why he always brings the suitcase everywhere, he'd reply: 'What if war begins tomorrow?'
I was forced to leave my home in Donetsk when I was 13 years old. I remember my mother telling me to pack things I cannot live without into my backpack. We moved to Ivano-Frankivsk, which is in Western Ukraine, and have been living here for the last 8 years. When major Ukrainian cities were attacked on February 24th, many children woke up to the sounds of explosions and had to pack their belongings into a backpack. Again.
I am safe for now and my family is trying to help others as much as possible. The region has become a shelter for those who are leaving their homes in other parts of Ukraine. Here, housing, food, and essentials are provided for them. I provide emotional support to people who feel like they need to talk to someone.
I also translate and fact-check the news for an NGO in Kyiv. Locals are busy donating money to the army, preparing food, gathering clothes, and sending medicine to other cities. Everyone does as much as they can to help our army succeed.
Ukrainians are a strong nation, and our spirit will not be broken. Slava Ukraini!