After fleeing their home in Ukraine, Tetyana Gurina and her family travelled across Europe – eventually making their way to Adelaide
After they heard the first explosion, Tetyana, 46, and her family stayed in their home in Odesa for two weeks, unsure of their next steps.
“We’d never heard a bomb explode before, but the moment it happened we knew immediately what it was,” she says. “We realised something terrible had begun, something that we’d talked about but didn’t believe could happen in our modern world, in Ukraine.”
Too afraid to leave the house to shop or exercise, Tetyana made the difficult decision with her husband to flee, in order to keep their two daughters safe.
“We drove to the nearest border, which was Romania. A trip that would normally take us six hours took 14, as we had to go through military checkpoints. We were so nervous driving through a war zone.”
After spending two nights in Romania, they decided to travel to Spain, where Tetyana’s school friend had offered them an apartment to stay in. Driving through Hungary, then Slovenia, Italy and France, they finally crossed the Spanish border.
Normally, a road trip like this would have been a special holiday, filled with cultural exploration and relaxation. Instead, Tetyana’s family anxiously rushed through country after country in the hope of reaching a safe place to stay.
Tetyana had once visited Australia where her brother and sister-in-law have lived for 25 years. With their encouragement, Tetanya and her family decided to migrate to Adelaide. They spent three months in Spain organising the visas before eventually getting on a plane.
“We arrived in Adelaide in July, greeted by aid organisations and friends at the airport,” she says. “Since then, we have had help every single day”.
The family knows how lucky they are, and that theirs is a bittersweet situation. “Every day, I think about how safe I am here in Australia and how my people in Ukraine are dying. We are always thinking about the families and children left behind – it is not a normal life.”
While she’s in Adelaide, Tetyana is hoping to continue her career as a project manager in the tech industry. She has signed up to English classes at TAFE, along with her husband is a mechanical engineer.
Though their careers and lives in Australia look positive, Tetyana is less optimistic about the conflict in her homeland.
“We just can’t see the end of it. Every day I think, surely just one more month, maybe two, maybe three. But...people are still dying,” says Tetyana.
“I don’t understand how our nearest neighbours, our brothers and sisters, could start a war. I want to go back but I don’t know what will be left.”
Cash assistance will provide a lifeline for displaced families fleeing conflict
More than 3.6 million people have now fled Ukraine
UNHCR’s cash assistance program helps refugees from Ukraine cover their most urgent needs