Her pleasure in that second masks the worry she exhibits every time the tranquillity across the seventeenth century monastery the place she, her sister and her mom have discovered refuge is damaged by a loud noise from a automobile or an plane overhead.
The eight-year-old has cerebral palsy and can’t communicate.
Alexandra spends her days strolling via the gardens along with her ladies and consuming with different refugees.
Locals have helped her discover a pool to renew therapy for Alevtina and dance courses for elder daughter Viktoria, 12. The guards who helped them on the border as they fled their dwelling return to check out the household.
“The youngsters have been actually terrified of the sirens and the explosions,” Alexandra, 38, stated whereas pushing Alevtina via the monastery’s sprawling gardens in a specialised stroller.
“Alevtina remains to be very scared,” she stated. “She is underneath fixed stress and we attempt to distract her by going to the pool and taking walks. We attempt to stroll as a lot as doable and play exterior and little by little she is getting via it.”
The six nuns who run the monastery present meals in the cafeteria and locals have helped with monetary help, clothes and toys, which embrace two teddy bears perched on the windowsill of their small room.
However every day since they arrived in Poland on 12 March brings totally different challenges. When a helicopter hovered above, the usually smiling Alevtina curled right into a ball as her eyes crammed with worry as a result of noise Alexandra says her daughter associates with battle.
Alexandra had wished to remain in Ukraine however her son insisted they escape as a result of the shelling and explosions have been terrifying for Alevtina because the villages subsequent to their dwelling metropolis got here underneath assault.
Russia has denied concentrating on civilians in what it calls a “particular navy operation” to demilitarise Ukraine.
The household first went to the opposite aspect of the town however the subsequent morning, on 10 March, they have been satisfied to go away, Alexandra stated.
“He pressured us to go away,” she informed Reuters, referring to her 18-year-old son who was a scholar earlier than Russia’s invasion on 24 February. “He stated ‘Mom, how will you disguise with Alevtina? Alevtina is afraid of sirens, Alevtina is afraid of all the pieces’.”
The household boarded a practice to Lviv with pet canine Luna earlier than making their strategy to Poland, the place Alexandra recounted the kindness of volunteers who helped discover them housing and guards who carried Alevtina’s stroller throughout the border.
The combating has displaced greater than 10 million folks and pressured greater than 4 million to go away Ukraine in Europe’s largest refugee disaster because the finish of the Second World Struggle, in accordance with the UN refugee company.
Greater than half of the refugees – like Alexandra and her daughters – have crossed into the European Union via Poland, which shares a 535km border with Ukraine.
Different refugees have moved on to different cities or international locations however Alexandra has chosen to stay in Jaroslaw, 40km from the border, so she might be shut sufficient to return to her son and her metropolis as quickly as she will be able to.
“Each morning I’m waking up hoping that somebody will name or textual content me that now we will return dwelling,” she stated. “Day by day, that’s all I’m ready for. Our suitcase is packed, and we simply wait for a name.”
Photography by Hannah McKay, Reuters