I’ve interviewed a number of Ukrainian families in support of the Energise Ukraine campaign.
These wonderful people have constantly amazed me with their stoicism, their easy readiness to laugh and smile as well as the gratitude they express to us for taking them to our hearts and providing that most elusive thing of all – a safe haven for them and their children.
Of course, they would all rather be at home in their own country but in the meantime they are just getting on with things, making the best of their lives here: they’ve found work, schooling for their children who, in turn, have made new friends, probably for life.
When they have eventually returned home, as they will, they will be remembered by an extraordinary network of local people whose mission it was, for a short time, to make them part of our community; their lives will also have been enriched by the experience.
Lastly, towards the end of our interview, Tetiana produced her mobile phone and was very insistent that I watched a short video of her home town, Chernigive.
It revealed a beautiful place with wide boulevards, plazas, fountains, street cafés – scenes typical of any European city.
Then the video switched to Chernigive after the Russian army came calling, creating scenes of mindless destruction, broken lives, broken houses and apartments, smashed buildings that were unrecognisable from the previous peacetime video.
A brand-new football stadium, readied for the new season, its terraces destroyed and a massive bomb crater in the middle of the newly-laid pitch.
Dead and injured, smoke, dust, chaos and devastation everywhere. It was heart-breaking and shocking all at once; we had to halt the interview while we all got a grip on emotions of anger and deep, deep sadness – it was just unfathomable, wanton violence.