There is an evacuation convoy moving toward Mariupol, the Donetsk military says


Raisa Makhnovets, 73, and her mother Yevhenia Khomenko, 94, in their Sacramento family’s home. (Omar Jimenez/CNN)

Even as the bombs began to fall, Yevhenia Khomenko didn’t want to leave her home in Kyiv, Ukraine. “I would rather die there,” the 94-year-old said. But eventually, it became too much, and her daughter convinced her to leave the home she had known her entire life.

When Khomenko was a child, she lived through the Great Famine of Ukraine — one that killed millions, driven by Josef Stalin. Years later, she fled her home during World War II as her country was targeted by Adolf Hitler. She’s now had to flee once more over an invasion prompted by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Russian attacks have reminded Khomenko of the bombing, shooting and violence during World War II, she told CNN.

The bombs then, as they are now, were unpredictable, and she recalled running anywhere to escape them. Khomenko returned to Kyiv after World War II to help rebuild the city’s main square, she said. Now, she’s worried the city may never be the same — and that, given her age, she may never return.

Her 73-year-old daughter, Raisa Makhnovets, is also worried about that fate. Through tears, she told CNN how difficult it was to persuade her mother to leave Kyiv, and how their attempts to do so quickly became a “horror movie.”

They had no other family in the city, and first spent two days in a bomb shelter before trying to flee the country by train. The station was overrun with others trying to do the same.

“I just couldn’t believe it was actually happening. The train station was scary,” Makhnovets said, speaking in Russian, as many Ukrainians do, and translated by CNN. “So many people with their kids and things, just really terrifying. The first train left without us, then the second. It was so cold waiting there overnight. There were even newborn babies.”

Makhnovets said it took roughly 20 hours to get from Kyiv to Lviv, in the western part of Ukraine, and then out of the country altogether. She and her mother were then able to fly to the United States on a visa they had obtained years ago. They reunited in Sacramento with five generations of their family, as a great great grandmother and a great grandmother.

In Sacramento, Khomenko noted the peace in the California air.

“It hurts in my soul, for my home, where I lived. But here it’s quiet, I don’t hear anything. I have a home, and I want to go home. I want to be in my own home. But the circumstances forced us to come here. Just go wherever necessary not to have to see the war,” she said, in Russian.

Her feelings now are familiar to those from a lifetime ago, Khomenko said, but in her youth, she didn’t really understand war in the way she does now.

She then told CNN, “I wish you a good life and to not have to endure what we’ve had to. I hope for friendship between us and all peoples.”

Read more here.

Quoted from Various Sources

Published for: The Bloggers Briefing