On 24 February 2022, as Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine, Ol’ha was at home in Kyiv with her son Lubomyr, recovering from two broken ankles. Unable to take shelter, they could do nothing but listen and hope, as air raid sirens warned of the dangers overhead.

Although evacuation would be hugely challenging, Ol’ha made the difficult decision to leave and seek safety elsewhere. And so, they set out on a journey that would take them to western Ukraine, over the Polish border to Krakow, before finally settling in L’Arche Edinburgh. 

They were met in Krakow by Kirsty, Community Leader of L’Arche Edinburgh, who accompanied them back to Scotland. On arrival, they were greeted with food, kindness and quantities of handmade cards.

Their European odyssey was followed daily by dozens of friends from L’Arche and beyond, who have been joining them on Zoom to pray, ever since the start of the war. These times of fellowship and community kept them going. “We look forward to our evening prayer, we meet a lot of people from all over the world and feel their support,’ Ol’ha said. “It is the main event of our day.”

In Edinburgh, they relish being surrounded by a welcoming community, even though Lubomyr doesn’t yet understand English. Ol’ha has started building a network and planning for the future, while Lubomyr participates fully in L’Arche community gatherings, singing, having fun and sharing meals in a safe space, surrounded by friends.

Watch the video below to hear about their journey to safety first-hand.