‘As A Foreign National It Was Different For Us Trying To Leave’ How A Mature Foreign Student And Her Daughter Fled From Ukraine

Ruth*, 48, spent three days escaping Kyiv. She is now in Poland but her daughter is stuck in immigration.

Ruth, a foreign student, flees Ukraine

by Georgia Aspinall |

Photographer: Jakub Porzycki

As a child growing up in Nigeria, I witnessed a lot of religious and political riots. Decades later, living in Kyiv with my daughter – a 21-year-old medical student who has lived here for four years – that violence erupted again outside my door, and the psychological trauma it brought back was terrible.

I enjoyed my life in Kyiv, it’s a beautiful city. I was training for a new career in project management after working as an insurance practitioner for 16 years. I was excited for the fresh start, to be studying alongside my daughter. She had a small business too, cooking African food outside of her studies. But so quickly, we were forced to leave.

When we left Kyiv, we took nothing but a few clothes with us.

We headed for the Polish border and travelled for a total of three days. There was a lot of segregation between nationalities. A lot of people felt discriminated against because they weren’t allowed to get on the train based on their nationality – only Ukrainians went first. It was very stressful and took a lot of patience.

At some point on the journey, a bag containing my daughter’s most important documents was lost. Her passport, permits, keys, money – everything went missing. We managed to get to Poland, but on arrival at the border my daughter was taken to immigration to wait for a new passport. As of right now, it’s been two days that I haven’t been able to see her. But I will wait as long as it takes.

When we can, we will go to Warsaw to stay with friends and family. The local people here are very supportive, but the accommodation I have found for the time being is not great. There are a lot of people and few supplies.

But the main torture for me is psychological; travelling for so long and now going back and forth to get my daughter out of immigration. That is my only goal now: get my daughter and pray that things go back to normal so we can get back to our lives and continue our education. I don’t want the last four years of my daughter’s life to be lost if we have to start all over again.

*Ruth asked us not to publish her surname

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