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Ukrainian women balancing family, safety amid war

Posted at 6:52 AM, May 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-06 09:52:32-04

This is the place where Mariya and Maryna say they feel the most comfortable.

Both women say they know their way around the kitchen, yet this one, just like everything else, is foreign to them.

"It's very difficult to be far from our country because everything is different," explains Maryna.

Both women are mothers, wives, and Ukrainian refugees, fleeing their homes two months ago just as the war broke out. For Maryna, it was anything but a quick escape.

"Two nights, we slept in the car with children."

Along the way, Russian soldiers stopped Maryna's family at checkpoints.

"When I began to stop, my eldest son said, 'Mom, no, it may be mined.'"

This isn't Maryna's first experience with war. In 2015, her hometown in the Donbas region was under attack from Russia. Marina was eight months pregnant at the time.

"I stayed in my native city for three weeks and they ran out of food and water in the stores and the banking system was shut down and I even cannot get a birth certificate for my child."

Maryna considers herself to be one of the lucky ones; her husband was able to leave Ukraine with his wife and three children, but not everyone was as fortunate.

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Mariya's husband was forced to stay in their hometown, which is now occupied by Russian troops. As an engineer at a nuclear power plant, the government required him to stay.

"The hardest part is that he's all alone...and to know that he misses us so much and also that he is in danger," Maryna said when asked what she felt was the hardest part about her husband remaining in Ukraine.

As both women face uncertain futures, one thing hasn't changed - their responsibility as mothers — the glue that holds their families together — even when it feels like their homeland is falling apart.

"We just ask you to pray for our country."