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“I LOVE UKRAINE AND ONLY THERE I WANT TO LIVE! I WILL DEFINITELY COME BACK”
Mira Pavlovskaya, our activist, friend and mother of three. She, like hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian women, decided to take her children to a safe place during the war. Today they are in Denmark. We’ve talked with Mira about solutions that were found for the first days of the war, about kind people, as well as about Danish medicine and their government programs for people with drug addiction.
Until February 24, 2022 my life was very different
I have three kids, they lived with me and my civil husband in Krivoy Rog – one of my sons is fourth, the next nine years old. The eldest nineteen-year-old son studied and worked in Kyiv before the war.
I worked in sex industry. I was an activist in CO «Legalife-Ukraine» and together with colleagues and a team of self-organized participants in human rights actions, I was trained for advocacy. Like many others at the end of February, being tired of cold, I was dreaming on how we would go with the kids to the sea in the summer. How we will ride on water bikes, splash in the sea, and visiting zoo. But, unfortunately, Putin did destroyed all my plans and dreams of my children.
I belonged to such a percentage of people who were sure that there would be NO WAR! Therefore, I was completely unprepared for it, neither physically nor morally.
FIRST DAYS OF THE WAR
…I could not understand that this is REALITY! I refused to perceive this terrible information. It seems to me even now that I will wake up and everyone around me will also come to their senses, and everything will turn out to be a dream …
This day was followed by others, more terrible days. Every new morning depression was piling up, there was no strength – at some moment it even became difficult to breathe. I was helpless and drowned in tears and hatred for the “subhumans” who came to “save” us.
Naturally, this terror started to hurt my kids. My mental condition began to be transmitted to them – they became more frightened, anxious and also, they began to be afraid of the slightest rustle. The younger son began to be afraid to sleep alone.
During the day, when the alarm siren sounded, we ran to the nearest bomb shelter. At night, if there were several hours of silence, I laid mattresses in the corridor near the load-bearing wall, and the children fell asleep there, dressed. I lay down next to them, but I couldn’t sleep at all – only quietly, so as not to wake my family, I cried, remembering the life that was quite recently lost.
It was absolutely impossible to get rid of heavy thoughts. One and the same question spun in my head constantly – WHY?! one insane moron can play with our fate, destroy our families, kill faith, just trample on everything valuable that we had?!… WHY can’t we punish him!?… WHY can’t he be swapped with those who died from the tortures of the “Russian world”?!..
With the war, new problems came into my life, primarily material ones. My children and I were in dire need of basic things – such as food, medicines, hygiene products. I thank God and fate for the help sent to me through wonderful people who work in the CO “Legalife-Ukraine”. Thanks to their support, my family and I were not left hungry and without a roof over our heads.
In this chaos, I was very afraid for my kids. My dear good relatives who found themselves in the occupied territories spoke to me about the horror that they and their families, their acquaintances and neighbors did experienced. Therefore, I knew the truth about what the “liberators” had brought with them. But until the last, as far as possible, I did not want to leave my home – the city, friends, relatives. I could not leave my eldest son (now he is in the territorial defense of Kyiv) and my husband.
Then my own sister left for Turkey with the children (her husband was from there). Then my mother and cousin did left with her son. Alongside all news got tougher. My condition worsened at an incredible rate. It was painfully difficult to make a decision…
I DECIDED TO TAKE MY CHILDREN OUT OF THE COUNTRY
And so, on March 13, 2022 I, my children, my cousin and my beloved cat Marusya – we did left – at first to Lviv. We rode in the vestibule of train cart, on bags, because the train was overcrowded. Arriving in Lviv, we stood in line for free travel to the border of Poland.
You know, at that moment, I didn’t realize at all that today, tomorrow, next week, I wouldn’t open my own door with a key, I wouldn’t look into the eyes of the person I loved, I wouldn’t meet my eldest son. Everything was in a fog.
We arrived at Przemysl in Poland. We crossed the border quite quickly – 4 hours maximum, and we were in Poland. Then I had no idea where to go. But there was 100% certainty that God would tell me the way.
At the border, Polish volunteers gave us everything we needed: water, first aid kit, wet wipes. Even my Maruska was presented with a carrier, she was fed and wrapped in a blanket.
I have never met so many people in my life. Everyone were just ranning forward, as if they were afraid to be late somewhere. Well, we, accordingly, did not lag behind, – it seemed that this human wave certainly knows what to do next. There were buses in front – there were flights to Denmark, Germany, Belgium. I decided that it would be better for us to stay in Poland for the time being, and we went by bus to the station.
The second day of the journey was coming to an end. It was getting darker, and fear of the unknown started to grew inside of me. By the time we got to the station, it was completely dark. I thought it would be better to spend the night there – after all, there was people around. At the crossing we met three young men, Poles, who helped us with our things. They also led us to a volunteer girl, thanks to whom our fate was decided.
This girl helped us to register, she charged our phones, showed us where the toilet is, where we can relax and spend the night. In the large hall of the station, mattresses were laid out in 2 rows, on which people were located, many of them showed that they had been there for more than a day, and in general they were not in a hurry to go anywhere.
There were also a lot of volunteers who were holding sheets of paper with the name of the country, or with the living conditions. I looked at them with apprehension (I heard many stories and read on the Internet about missing and/or deceived refugees).
… I found where you can get hot soup and tea, and just as we were about to have dinner, our volunteer came running with several more refugees and asked me if I wanted “the youngest child to go to kindergarten as soon as possible while there are still places in the Danish commune,” with which they have an agreement. They said that living conditions there was simply excellent, and besides, she warned, “Poland is already overcrowded, many are settled in schools, circuses, gyms.” And in Denmark, according to her, there are still places.
I agreed because I felt that God was leading me.
And now, almost 18 hours later, we are in Denmark. Thank God, on the third day on the bus I managed to sleep for 4 hours. The kids slept too.
SUBSTITUTION THERAPY PROGRAM FOR PEOPLE WITH DRUG DEPENDENCE AND MEDICAL ASSISTANCE IN DENMARK
In Ukraine, I have been receiving treatment under the Substitution Maintenance Therapy (SMT) program for several years. Who knows what it is – understands how important this was for me to receive treatment in different country on time. But on the road, I tried not to think about it. For some reason, I thought that everything gonna be okay.
We arrived at the commune, we were met by the employees of the municipality and the main representatives of the commune – they gave us some tea. After they showed us the rooms – the conditions, however, turned out to be just excellent. Private shower, toilet and single family room. Shared kitchen, laundry and lounge with a huge plasma. In general, housing that I could not even dream about.
On the same day, I said that I needed a drug (methadone). The next day, a nurse arrived in the commune in the morning, and we went with her to the clinic. I was asked to take packages of my Ukrainian methadone with me. The clinic did an analysis that confirmed the presence of methadone in the body and EVERYTHING! From that moment on, I was on the ST program. They didn’t demand any Ukrainian medical documents or extracts from me. The first week I received it every day, then they began to give it with me for a day ahead.
By the way, I also have thrombophlebitis, and so, they give me pills for this case.
In general, people here are not bad and everyone wants to help somehow. I did not feel any negativity from the Danes. The people around are very friendly and smiling. The only thing that was not familiar to me – the way how locals solve any issues – they are generally in no hurry anywhere and don’t worry about anything. Well, for example, my 4-year-old son fell ill – he got hight temperature, cough, sore throat. I was told that an ambulance could be called only if he lost consciousness, had a long breath hold, and so on. I still insisted on consulting a doctor “by phone”. She (the doctor) told the representative of the commune how I should check my son’s stomach, how to look at his throat, and I had to do all this by myself!
I asked for a prescription for cough syrup, but they refused, saying there was no need. It’s good that I took with me from Ukraine the remnants of cough syrup and baby panadol. I gargled my son’s throat with what I could find (soda and salt). Another 3 days passed, the syrup ended, but the cough did not get away. On the 4th day, we got to the doctor again, who advised to give the patient a warm drink (at the same time, the doctor did not even “listen” to the child). A week later, I got a prescription for cough syrup and strepsils. In short, – it is not customary to be ill there, and the treatment is not customary as we do. If the temperature is 40 and it lasts more than 4 days, then it can be considered a symptom of the disease.
In general, as everywhere, there are some pitfalls, but I really hope that everything will be fine. The main thing is to believe in the best and strive for it.
For now, until our Victory (and I am 100% sure of the Victory of Ukraine), I will look for work in Denmark. There are many jobs here in Ballerup – just last night, the local mayor came to meet us (Ukrainian refugees). And he assured that there will be work for everyone. Because there are not enough workers for factories (insulin is produced). Lots of other options too. The children have already been enrolled in school and kindergarten, so in the very near future, they will begin to attend them.
Now, while I am waiting for documents and a residence permit, we are trying to move away from our bad experience, we are walking around, getting acquainted with the architecture and sights. We were promised that soon we will be able to use the swimming pool and tennis courts…
Will I return home? Certainly yes.
I love Ukraine, and only there I want to live!
Interview: Natalia Dorofeeva for the website of CO “Legalife-Ukraine”
The publication of the interview was made possible thanks to the support of the Government of Canada within the framework of the Women’s Voice and Leadership – Ukraine project implemented by the Ukrainian Women’s Fund (UWF). CO “Legalife-Ukraine” is responsible for the content of the information. The information presented in this article does not always reflect the views of the Government of Canada and the FFA.