Ukraine: What would you bring if you had to flee in a hurry?

More than 13 million people have left their homes since the escalation of the war in Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Most were only able to take a few essential items with them and had to leave everything else behind. In times of uncertainty, trauma, and fear, it is sometimes the little things that give us hope and strength. Often it is something that reminds us of home. Here is what some people brought with them when they were forced to leave their homes.

A young girl, Kristina, sits in a bad and holds a stuffed animal she brought with her when she fled her home in Ukraine.
Kristina in the emergency shelter in Lviv, Ukraine, with her stuffed toy animal which is also named Kristina.  All photos: Roman Yeremenko/CARE
“We are just glad that we are all together and that we could bring the great-grandmother of my children with us. Also, our dogs give us strength here,” says Daria.

Three months ago, the family fled from Kharkiv to Lviv where they live together in a shelter. Great-grandmother Nina misses her home.

“I miss my garden and my flowers. We had to flee unexpectedly and leave very fast. At that time, I wanted to plant a fir tree. The tree is now waiting in a bucket of water at home.”

A woman stands while holding a mixing bowl with batter while a young girl hugs her legs.
Natalia with her daughter Kristina in the emergency shelter in Lviv, Ukraine.
“It is funny, but I only brought a bowl and a knife from home. No one planned to go for a long time, so we didn’t take a lot,” says Natalia.

She fled with her family from Mykolaiv and now lives in a shelter in Lviv.

“We only had one backpack each with us.”

Natalia’s daughter, Kristina, brought two of her stuffed animals, a cat and a pig. “They are both also called Kristina.”

A teenage boy stands in a room holding a Rubix cube with two hands and a book under his arm.
Natalia’s brother, Sasha, brought two comic books, his Rubik’s Cube, and some drawing materials. He loves to draw and wants to sell his paintings in an auction.

“I want to use the money for my paintings to help children with cancer,” says Sasha.

He himself had cancer for five years.

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A woman stands and looks off into the distance as she holds her cell phone facing out which shows a picture of a man and woman together.

“It sounded like rain, but there were no clouds. When I stepped out onto the balcony a missile flew by. That’s when I decided to flee West,” describes Maya.

She now lives in a shelter in Ivano-Frankisvsk. She was a singer, but due to COVID, she cannot sing anymore. Her husband died a few years back. When the war escalated and was close to home, she was in shock and only took the essentials. The two most precious things that she brought with her are the shirt that she is wearing­—it belonged to her husband—-and a picture of them together on her mobile phone.

How CARE and our partners are supporting people affected by the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine

Six months after the escalation of war, CARE and our partners have reached more than 466,000 people affected by the crisis, across Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Georgia, and Germany. In Ukraine, our priority is to meet the immediate needs of affected families through the distribution of critical medicine, food, and water supplies, as well as hygiene kits, cash assistance and psychosocial support. We are also working closely together with our partners to specifically support vulnerable groups—women, children, elderly, and people with special needs—by distributing aid according to their needs and setting-up safe spaces. Find out more

Help provide urgent support to those affected by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.