Meet Zhaklin

My name is Zhaklin. I am 16 and I come from a beautiful country – Ukraine. I was born into a happy family; I have two sisters. I love my family very much. We used to live in the small town of Nizhyn of the Chernihiv region. I would go to school like other children, and learn English with my private tutor. I also did judo as my hobby. Everything was great, and I had all I wished. Like other teenagers, I had many dreams and goals for the future. That had been my life until 24th of February. My family and I will never forget that day – the day when everything was ruined. The day when we learned what a real war was… Until then, I had seen such things only in movies; until then, I had never known the true horror of war! It is when, for the first time, you hear the explosions next to you, see the worried faces of people around you, smell the smoke and feel terror with every cell in your body, hiding in a dark basement, it is only then you finally realise what true horror is and how much you want to live…

Next was Kyiv, a train, an air raid alert in Lviv, and Hungary. Volunteer Thomas helped us with food and a temporary shelter. We went to Ireland thereafter, where there were also many good people. And now we are in England.  I can finally go to school and practise my favourite sport, judo, again. I am still very worried about my country and relatives who I left behind. In fact, the war has taken everything from me, and now my life is like a blank sheet of paper on which I have to write something again. And I truly believe that everything becomes possible, and I will be able to achieve anything I set my mind to.

  Meet Oleksandra

Oleksandra is a 12-year-old Ukrainian refugee who was forced to flee her home in 2022 because of the war and has since settled in Dacorum, Herts.

“The last thing I remember of Ukraine was when my mother and I were travelling through the country from our place to Lviv - to take a refugee train to Poland. I saw many desperate women with children who, like us, left their homes and old lives behind to start over in a new place.

Back at home, I left my friends who I miss a lot, and my cat Lucky. I would play with him and feed him. I really hope that my neighbours are still caring for my pet. 

I am very thankful to my host family and people who helped us start a new life in England. It's been the longest year of my life, but things are finally getting better.

I love drawing and painting very much. Making things with my hands teaches me to see the beauty in everything around me and makes me feel happier”.  

       Meet Margo

I am a seventeen-year-old girl who fled the war in Ukraine after the Russian invasion in 2022. I have been lucky to find a safe and quiet place in the UK and to make friends in my new school. It is also important that I can continue my art studies here; painting and drawing help me express my individual and cultural identity.

I was born and lived in Dnipro, a city in south-central Ukraine that lies along the picturesque Dnieper River. When I was 15 years old, the war broke out – my country was ruthlessly invaded. Many never expected or could predict it! And now it is my second birthday that I’m celebrating away from home. But life continues and there is no space for giving up. I go to school like many other children, I go on with my life like many other displaced Ukrainians.  

My English is improving as is my confidence, and I have all reasons to say that I am adapting to cultural changes and doing really well for which I am very thankful to our welcoming and supportive community.