On March 2, 2022, I packed my life into a backpack and decided that my daughters and I must leave Kharkiv. By pure magic we managed to get a lift to the train station where we were faced with a swarm of people.
There was panic. It was chaos. The station was packed with people, children, elderly people, dogs, all pushing and shoving each other. When the evacuation train arrived, all hell broke loose: students tried to get on first, sturdy men were elbowing aside women and children; so we didn’t manage to get on that train.
Before the next one arrived, people dressed in military camouflage and carrying guns managed to reinstate some sort of order and lined up women and children on the platform.
The train going from Bakhmut to Lviv arrived, but it was already full. Everybody ran for it, breaking the lines, cursing, and shoving their way through the crowd. As the train was departing there was a loud bang and the crowd ran back to the train station. I was petrified that I’d be separated from my children in the crowd…
When we’d already spent 8 hours at the train station, the curfew began, and the crowd thinned out. Suddenly we saw a train, a double decker Škoda intercity train, approaching from the direction of the station and we ran for it.
The door in the last car was open. Only women and children were allowed on. We made it, we got on the train! Both train decks, hallways, and steps were packed with people. The children fell asleep crammed into one seat, and I just sat on top of somebody’s suitcase.
Yulia, an illustrator from Kharkiv