Although the news had suggested that the war with Russia might begin, when the war broke out in Ukraine on February 24th none of us expected it to really happen.
The situation escalated quickly, forcing us to retreat down to our basement as the sound of gunshots and explosions got closer. After spending weeks inside, with 9 of us hiding in our cramped basement alongside our pets without electricity, heating and a mobile connection, we were finally made aware of some volunteers who provided buses for us to leave the village.
Escaping was scary – we hadn’t been outside in so long that we were unsure what to expect when we finally surfaced. We were also unaware of what would happen when we left – where would we go? Would we ever return?
When it came time to go, my grandparents decided to stay – they were willing to die there.
The worst moment for me was when we had to leave our dog, Roxy. She was too large, and we didn’t know if we could take her with us, so I had to leave her with my grandmother and grandfather and they would take care of her.
After some time, the situation became too hostile and my grandparents were also forced to leave. When they left, they couldn’t take Roxy with them. They were elderly, and my grandmother struggles to walk, so Roxy was left with our neighbours.
I miss Roxy so much, she’s just so loving. We found her abandoned near our yard – she was about 3–weeks–old, about four years ago now. She became our family member. Before Roxy I was really afraid of dogs. At our house, when I came home she would run to me standing on her hind legs singing and greeting me. We could say ‘Roxy, sing’ and she would sing for us. She used to sleep with me all of the time. In the evening when I was in my bed watching movies or reading and she’d be with me, that is what home means to me. It feels loving, comforting and safe – it’s a feeling I hope everyone gets to experience.
Join Natalia in submitting #WhatHomeMeans to you today by visiting the Gallery of the (New) Home.