Proposed and introduced by Sissy Vovou
Eleonora is a Ukranian woman who was an air hostess for many years. Seven years ago she met the Greek man she fell in love with, in the sky, as they both worked in the air. Love was in the air…
Two years ago she decided to stay in Greece, she married him and eleven months ago she gave birth to a baby girl, about who she writes such sweet and traumatic stories in the testimony of the soul that follows.
Our Greek feminist friend Fotini Sianou is a relative of Eleonora, and when the war started she was totally upset, telephoning all the time to friends to say what was happening and how worried she was, and how dangerous the situation was, and news, and this and that. Fotini was appeased only when Eleonora come back. She asked her to write her human story, to share what she went through, the strength and the weakness, the fear and the courage. S.V.
Вітаю! Χαίρετε! Hello!
I am Eleonora. In my story you will not find politics, you will find here my feelings,my personal war experience,the way how I love to live and I love my family. And as conclusion,below is the tragic realization that we live,make our plans for future,we dream,we desire something, we love…and…
Everything collapses in an instant. Ιncluding human lives and destinies.
My suitcases are ready, my 6 months old baby is ready, I am ready. Today we are going to Ukraine, to Kharkov !
I leave my home in Greece (according to plan for 1 month). Until the last moment my Husband were begging me do not go, because of war risks. After 1 year 7 months I couldn’t wait anymore, my heart led me to Mother Land. Finally, with trepidation in soul, me and my daughter are leaving. Before to enter the airplane Athens – Kyiv representative, who helped me with baby stroller, told me: “It is not good time to go to Ukraine”.
Waiting for the happy long awaited visit to my mother land I said to myself: “No way something bad may happen, it’s impossible”. It was a nice joyful day. Even this long trip, alone with small baby and many suitcases (gifts for lovely relatives in Ukraine) didn’t make me tired. I was filled with happiness, so warm emotions. In the train Kyiv-Kharkov throughout the trip I was in chat with cousin from Izum. We made a grate plans to meet, to spend time together. I supposed to introduce to them my Daughter, new family member…And it never happened…
I was happy only 5 days in my sweet home,in my lovely beautiful Kharkov. I breathed in my native air, walking along my native streets, admiring my native peaceful sky, enjoying my lovely winter with beautiful snow. It only lasted 5 days. Why?Why? I am crying.
This day ,each second,each detail of this day I will remember for ever. I woke up around 4.30 a.m. with no reason – my heart was pumping fast. I checked if mother sleeps, no, she was awake too and just watched TV with low volume. Through this volume I heard from outside some dull sound, like fireworks, very far. And it was not usual night silence, it was strange sounds which I never heard in my area.
At the seconds, when I run to the window to see what’s going on, only one thought were in my mind: “Please, no,don’t do that!” I open the curtains and… my lovely dark blue early morning sky is not completely dark any more, it’s colored in orange – yellow colors. Far away there are flashing, orange glow. In that moment I turned my head to bed with my Daughter. She was sleeping so nicely and deep. My thoughts were : “Oooo,God, what will happen with her, save her, please. My angel appeared inside the war. Why, why I have to wake her up and run from my house now, what we will do ???”
Immediately I got a hold of myself and I called to emergency number. After some time (for me it seems like 1 hour, but it was just 5 minutes) they answered me. I described my location, what I see and what I hear. Woman voice told me : “It is shelling began, collect your documents and go to closer shelter, most probably go to metro”. This words and her voice I will never forget. Our conversation finished and I got frozen, I looked to my sleeping baby, I looked to my Mama… I announced about start of war, I hugged Mom and immediately we made a plan to leave Kharkov and to go to my Grandmother to the small city, which is 80 km from Kharkov.
Like a robot I collected the necessary things , all the time thinking about running away and saving my Mama and Daughter… In the same time talking with my lovely Husband. That day robbed him of peace of heart for the following weeks…he asked me only one question : «Why, why don’t you listen to me? Start of war was predictable.» During our conversation I realized how much I wish to be with my Man, to be in Greece now, ahhhhh… Husband wish to help me and protect me, but it’s impossible, he can’t do nothing, and it hurts even more. The only thing he could do, it is to support me and to share with me his opinion about correct strategy according to current situation. So, we left our sweet home on 24 of February. I hope we will have home to come back …
First time in my life I had no feelings, when leaving home and going to my Grandmother. All trip I was just with cold mind, I can compare myself with frozen mummy, seems like I had no heartbeat. My 6 months old baby were in my arms, silent and looking to me, like she understands everything, all the situation. I held her tightly in my arms. I was proud of myself that I was saving my girl from the war.I looked out the car window and just kept silent.
I did not admire the beautiful snowy landscapes, as it was always before.I did not care.I was only afraid suddenly to see tanks, soldiers, bombs, military equipment during our trip.And I didn’t see,still it was safe area.
Upon arrival I run to my 83 years old Grandmother.I threw myself on her knees and sobbed. I cried because of many reasons: finally after so long time I meet her, finally my dream to bring there my newborn baby became true! But this long-awaited meeting and our stay there (in my native small sweet town where I was born) ruined by the WAR which NOBODY WAS WAITING.
Next 10 days instead of enjoying my sweet home, my lovely family, my devoted friends I was making plan of evacuation from Ukraine, safe ways etc. All the time in contact with my Husband we were thinking how to escape safely as fast as possible. I was scared for my Daughter and Mother (myself I didn’t think) , every night I managed to sleep very late with a thought if we will wake up on next morning, or will we find ourselves under the rubble of our own walls, or some guys will decide to break into our house and to torture us. Ahhhhh my baby, my girl, I prayed to God that the evil of war would not touch my small angel.
Μy Mother felt guilty that we ended up in Ukraine during wartime. She was in shock and incomprehension of what was happening. She was just hoping that in a few days it would be over. Me too. In turn, the grandmother cried all the time, not realizing that a war had begun in the country. Due to her health condition she was forgetting many things. Also she was asking carefully if we can stay more and do not go…my heart is broken, it was so painful to answer her «No, we can’t stay. It is risky and dangerous to stay. I have to save my baby. I am sorry, by lovely Babushka.» Impossibility to stay and be together for a little while killed me then, and it is pain in my soul for ever …
For all the days of our stay there, we heard two military airplanes flying at low altitude. Only that. My town was safe. All the situation was controllable. It was most correct decision – to come here from Kharkov. My Kharkov under bombs from first seconds of war until now…Honestly, slowly-slowly I loose my hope about good future in Kharkov.
We (me, Mother and Daughter) start our evacuation trip. 6 days of exhausting trip ahead of us. Including many hours of waiting on train station without knowing if necessary evacuation train will come today or never. Our transportation included 4 different trains to reach Poland and 2 airplanes to go to Athens. Yes, it was long difficult trip. But the humanism, that people showed towards us, helped to manage this trip in one breath. I would like to notice that police, military, civilian people in Ukraine, Poland, Greece are so helpful, good-natured, kind and honest. Our World exists only because of such kind of people!
I think it’s important to give you an example.
~In Kharkov train station, when we run with baby to find out any information, fleetingly I heard a question from a woman from nowhere: «Do you have a diapers for baby?». I automatically answered: «Yes,I have some, I can share with you». She told me: “No,no,I just saw you with baby. There’re volunteers,they can give you a diapers, if you need”. It was just stranger with her own problems and worries. Why to care about someone else? Because of humanity !!!
~In Warsaw Chopin airport, when we just arrived, I went to information desk to ask if there are any special organized place for Ukrainians to rest, to sleep 1 night before flight. Information desk employee, guy around 25-30 years old, told me that there’s no any rest place for people from Ukraine. I thanked him and I decided to go to the hotel. Do you know what he told me in the end? «If you need or face any trouble, please, come to this desk. I will finish shift in few hours and I can invite your family to rest and to sleep in my house». I did not take advantage of the help he offered, but I left with a heart full of joy and happiness. Why he wanted to help to strangers woman? Because of humanity!!!
On all stages of our trip military and police together with volunteers organized the movement of evacuees, giving answers to all questions, finding solutions in any cases. They are not just performing their duties professionally, they delve into the situation of people with their hearts! It won me over!
International Woman’s Day. We met this day in Warsaw. Upon arrival to hotel near Chopin airport, receptionist gave me a good discount for one night,just because I am Ukrainian. Why they gave discount? Because of humanity !!!
Entered to our room, we let ourselves to relax and for one evening to try do not think about anything. Baby was so happy to make a shower and to lie on a huge white bed, and honestly, we too. After 3 days in trains… We ordered the festive dinner. It was strange feeling to realize that we are in Poland, in hotel, 3 girls on Woman’s Day, and behind were the difficulties and fear of war.
Night. With God’s help we arrived to Athens Eleftherios Venizelos airport. Looking forward to meet my sweetheart, my Husband. Then, few minutes before to see him I had many mixed feelings: a frantic desire to hug him like never before, to apologize about happened, a feeling of pity for him and for our whole family, proudness of myself that I coped with all the difficulties. What to say… it was а very emotional meeting for all of us. My best of the best Mother in law was waiting for us in home. All that 3 weeks of my absence she supported her son and didn’t let him to stay alone. I eternally grateful to Mother in law and those relatives who worried about us and tried to help. I know that for my Greek family I am loved family member on a par with their relatives . No matter that I am foreigner.
We woke up first time without fear. Strangely happy, like after nightmare. And sick, with fever. The icing on the cake – we got corona-virus. All of us. Passed long time to get well and to recover. But if we survived from the war, virus it’s nothing! We are strong, because we are Ukrainians!
If you will ask me: “Eleonora, would you like to cancel your visit to Ukraine, if you knew about war?”. May be my answer will shock or surprise someone. No, I would never ever cancel my trip. Because as it turns out, that was my last chance to see my only beloved Grandmother. She died since we left Ukraine. God took her. Probably God did not want her to see the second war in her life. I know, my Grand didn’t leave earlier, because she was just waiting for us. Her girls, her three generations of girls.
I would like to thank to everyone who read my story to the end! Who knows, may be in one day I will write a book about this historical period of my life, tragic and proud period.
The lesson I learned is: to listen my Heart and my Husband, to pray God and to believe in myself and my strengths.
As it turned out, a human has an unlimited potential of their abilities.