In the last two weeks, 220,000 Ukrainians have made the trek home, the country's border guard said — many were traveling when the Russian invasion began, others needed to tie up loose ends at their foreign jobs, some are returning to fight, and a few say it's even harder to be a refugee than it is to be back in Ukraine.
On their journey last week from the Ukrainian town of Mykolaiv to Poznan, Poland, Zhanna Sinitsyna, her 30-year-old daughter Nadiia, and 12-year-old granddaughter Kira witnessed explosions and heard gunfire. Once in Poznan, the plan was to find work and send money to Mykolaiv, where Zhanna's husband and 19-year-old son are part of efforts to defend the city.
They were unable to find an affordable place to stay in Poznan near areas with employment opportunities and quickly discovered they didn't have enough money to purchase necessities. After just two days, Zhanna convinced Nadiia and Kira to return to Mykolaiv on Saturday, despite their concerns. "In my soul, Mykolaiv is my home," Zhanna told The Washington Post. "And I need to be home."
Oleksii Zvieriev is from the Kyiv suburb Brovary, and works as a truck driver, delivering goods across Europe. On the day Russia invaded, he decided that as soon as the job was over, he would go back to Ukraine and start fighting. Standing at a train station in Przemysl, Poland, on Saturday night, he told the Post he was keeping his word and heading home.
"It's hard to talk about the emotions of going back into a war," Zvieriev said. "I have friends sitting in basements telling me they're hearing explosions all the time. I can't stop worrying." Two of his friends — one 40 years old, the other 25 — were killed shortly after picking up arms against Russia. Read more at The Washington Post.