Only few people who escaped the war were able to flee as a whole family. Most of the time, war tears families apart. Women and children flee to quieter regions in search of peace and security, but men must stay and take up arms.
But it was different with the Mikhalev family. They moved from Irpin in the Kyiv region. This city is one of the most affected places in Ukraine by this war. They managed the almost impossible – an escape from the city occupied by Russian forces. The family consists of four people: father Serhiy (46), mother Lesya (40) and children – Stanislav (9) and Anna-Maria (5). The father was injured and cannot be drafted into the army at the moment.
In the first days of the war, two enemy planes literally flew over her house and dropped bombs in the direction of the peaceful residential area. “Stanislav and I were packing things when everything happened… Within a few seconds there was an explosion. It was very scary,” Serhiy recalls. 9-year-old Stanislav himself says he felt no fear. Being the eldest among the children, he only thought about his younger sister. “We lived in the basement for the first eight days of the war. We saw Russian soldiers moving in a column near our house,” says Stanislav. After that, without hesitation, the family got into the car and drove as far away from the war as possible. “We didn’t know exactly where we were going, we just ran out of the house in slippers. That’s how we ended up here,” says Lesya. Like almost 80 other refugees, they found accommodation in the St. Basilʼs School. Here they got warm clothing, shoes, hygiene items, a roof over their heads and, above all, a feeling of security. “You are very well looked after here. And anyway, all the people who help us do it with great love! We feel it,” says Lesya.
Perhaps this family’s greatest fear is whether they will have a place to return to. They don’t know whether their house is still standing. However, the family is convinced that everything is in God’s hands. “We are believers and try to trust God. If the Lord wants us to live and get us out of this hell our country is in, everything will be fine,” says Serhiy. Today, Stanislav is already attending online classes at one of the local elementary schools. His 5-year-old sister Anna-Maria is also very happy about the various events that volunteers organize for her at St. Basilʼs School. Among them the art therapy organized by the two students who also find refuge in the same house. “The first thing I will do after the war,” says Stanislav, “is go hiking with my parents. I want to spend the night in a tent in the Carpathians. And I really don’t want military planes flying overhead again.” The family has been living in St. Basilʼs School for more than a month, which since the beginning of the war has been one of the places of the Archdiocese of Ivano-Frankivsk of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church where internally displaced persons are taken in. The plan is to return to the hometown of Irpin, if of course it is possible.