Easter far from home: Hearing from Ukrainian refugees

Apr 14, 2022
Easter, just like spring, represents a time for rebirth, renewal and hope. But, things just don’t feel the same this year as the deadly conflict in Ukraine continues. The world has watched in horror as thousands of people have been killed and 11 million more have been forced to run for their lives as their homes are reduced to rubble.
During a plea for peace, Pope Francis recently summarized the Ukraine war in a poignant list: Mothers who mourn the unjust death of husbands and sons. Refugees who flee from bombs with children in their arms. Young people deprived of a future. Soldiers sent to kill their brothers and sisters.”
Perhaps some hope can be found in the resilience of those who have been most affected by these tragic events. I spoke to a few of the Ukrainians who will be spending this Easter far away from friends and family who have taken refuge in shelters, schools and people’s homes across Ukraine and in neighbouring countries like Romania and Moldova.
Hear from these Ukrainians, who share Easter in their own words.

Liza, 22, from Odessa, Ukraine, now staying with a host family in Bucharest, Romania

Liza wears a black blouse and has long reddish-blonde hair.

“Here in Romania they celebrate Easter just like we do. They make coloured eggs just like Ukrainians. The family hosting us will join us and we will make eggs and cakes. Usually in Ukraine we get up in the morning and go to church and then go to my grandparents to eat and play games and talk. At Easter, everyone should be together.”

Anton, 15, from Odessa, Ukraine, now staying with a host family in Bucharest, Romania

Anton is a tall pale young boy wearing a black sweater.

“(During Easter) we should pay attention relatives and don’t forget about them. Usually when we have Easter we have a lot of people, we have food, eggs and cake. It’s very good spending time with family when you’re in the kitchen and cooking so that then when you’re eating you understand that you did it with love with your family.”
Mother and Daughter Julia and Sofia are staying in a school shelter in Chernivitsi, a town in western Ukraine

Julia is a 30-something woman with strawberry blonde hair and blue eyes.

Julia: “(This Easter) I want to see my family. Never in my life have I wanted to see them as I do now. We are all different and when everyone gets together, we argue, often it’s loud but (next time) we will be silent. We’ll just be happy to be together and alive.”

Sofia: “Maybe I will help my mom make sweets and after that I will get to eat the glaze and sprinkles that go on top of the pasha (Easter cake). We’ll also eat eggs.”
Xenia, 12, escaped Kyiv and is staying in a school shelter with her mother and younger sister in Chernivitsi, a town in western Ukraine

Xenia has bright blue eyes and wears a pink hoodie and a somber expression.

“We buy Kinder chocolates and hide them in the house and search for them with all the family. We also play with eggs. The egg game involves two people holding eggs and crashing them together. The winner is the one whose egg hasn't broken. We use paper to make rabbits.” (Ukrainian origami)
Tatiana, from Odessa, Ukraine, now staying with a host family in Bucharest, Romania

Tatiana wears a white blouse and looks off to the side. She has blue eyes and mid-length brown hair.

“Usually for Easter, in the morning we got to church as a family and then altogether we go to my parent’s house and talk. It’s such a pleasure to be all together. Maybe this year we can all be together again with my husband.”
World Vision has been working in Ukraine and Romania since the first week of the crisis and is quickly scaling up its work to support children and their families with basic essentials and other critical services with the goal of reaching nearly 300,000 people in Romania, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia within the next few months.  

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