Woman’s ten-day journey from war-torn Ukraine to Dublin

Hanna Hordynska left her home in Lviv with her sister and niece.

11 March 2022

Hanna Hordynska spent ten days escaping war-torn Ukraine, travelling by car and walking for several hours before she eventually boarded a plane to Dublin.

Ms Hordynska, 37, left her home in Lviv with her sister and niece, spending days making their way out of Ukraine.

An investment analyst, she said her nightmare journey began on February 24 when she was woken by a phone call from her boyfriend at 5am.

“His first words were ‘the war has begun, Putin has sent troops to the country and declared war on Ukraine’,” Ms Hordynska told the PA news agency.

Hanna Hordynska with her sister and niece in Poland
Hanna Hordynska with her sister and niece in Poland as they made their way to the airport to travel to Dublin (Hanna Hordynska/PA)

“He told me to collect my things and be ready to go to Poland.”

She called her parents, sister and niece, who live in her hometown of Berdyansk, near Mariupol, and told them to pack their bags.

Speaking from a hotel in Dublin, she added: “I started looking for train tickets to take my family out of the dangerous region and go to western Ukraine.

“But my parents categorically refused to leave their home. Only my sister and niece left.

“And now my parents are sheltering in their bathroom and hiding during the sirens and they cannot leave.

Russian invasion of Ukraine
Hanna Hordynska in Ukraine with her sister as they prepared to flee the country (Hanna Hordynska/PA)

“I have been able to speak to them but not all the time, because the Russians have damaged infrastructure and they don’t have electric all the time and the food is limited.”

Ms Hordynska said she waited for days for her sister and niece to travel to Lviv by train.

“At night, I could not contact them, as the train stopped in the field and the driver asked them to turn off the phones and all the lights, so as not to attract the attention of the Russian military, as there could be shelling of the train,” she said.

“We left Lviv and spent two days trying to get to the Polish border, but it was impossible and it was going to take a long time.

“It seemed that half of Ukraine had gathered to escape.

“People were crying and terrified and trying to hide anywhere they could.

“On the third day we went to the Romanian border, and a day later we were in Romania, where we were met by an unfamiliar beautiful Romanian family who allowed to stay in their house for two nights, until my sister’s husband came for us.

“He had been in Poland for work.

“It is mentally very hard to cross the border because my parents are in the occupied city.

Russian invasion of Ukraine
The basement of her apartment block in Lviv where Hanna Hordynska sheltered before she escaped Ukraine (Hanna Hordynska/PA)

“It was awful and I have never felt so scared and sad in my life.

“My boyfriend, friends, colleagues remain in Kyiv and other unsafe Ukrainian cities under shelling and bombing.

“You cross the border and you don’t know if you will see each other, if they are alive.

“After a day of driving without stopping for sleep or food and with two children, we arrived in Poland. Strangers allowed us to stay overnight in their apartment in Warsaw for several days. After that we ended up in Dublin. The whole journey took 10 days.”

Ms Hordynska said she cannot sleep nor make any plans because she does not know what will happen in the coming days and weeks.

She has limited contact with her parents and said there are problems with gas and communications and food is running out.

Despite not knowing anyone in Ireland, Ms Hordynska made the decision to travel to the Irish capital as she wanted to get as far away as possible from Ukraine.

She said she is surprised and grateful for the kindness shown by strangers and Irish people.

Since arriving in Dublin last week, Ms Hordynska has been volunteering at a centre which collects donations to be sent to Ukraine.

“People have been so kind during each step getting to Ireland,” she added.

“But I don’t have nice dreams.

“I don’t sleep much because I always read about Ukraine and connect with friends and family and I can’t speak to them without crying.

“I just dream to meet my family and parents and will be with my boyfriend again. I think only about it.”

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