Ukrainian refugees find refuge and comfort in the Polish theater

Refugees flee from the Russian invasion of Ukraine in Przemysl
A general view shows a sports hall of a primary school converted into temporary accommodation for people fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine March 19, 2022 in Przemysl, Poland. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

March 19, 2022

By Mari Saito

PRZEMYSL, Poland (Reuters) – Ukrainian mothers and their young children found sanctuary at an ornate theater in the Polish border town of Przemysl on Saturday, where they could get some rest after their harrowing journey.

For Tanya, a 34-year-old from Berdychiv in northern Ukraine, it was a relief to finally have help with her five young children after her long journey to Poland.

Tanya, who did not give her last name, had stayed in her home until it was no longer possible to protect her children from the war.

“I tried to protect her from all of this. When the alarm went off, I covered the windows with blankets so no one could hear it. My little ones made a monster called the siren monster,” she said.

Her children ran around her as she stood in the theater, which is located in the Polish city’s Ukrainian cultural center. In the theater, about 50 refugees slept side by side under borrowed blankets on fold-out cots. Children in brightly colored dresses danced and played on the stage flooded with theatrical lights, while their weary mothers chatted with one another in close proximity.

In a makeshift kindergarten next to the theater, Olga Pavlovska from Kryvyi Rih in central Ukraine said she was relieved to finally be in a quiet place without airstrikes and sirens.

“At least we’re safe here. No air raid warnings, no riots,” said 28-year-old Pavlovska as her two wild sons chased each other around a table and knocked over a box of toys.

“My child slept very poorly the first night. He woke up a lot, cried a lot, but everything is fine now. He slept very well, really very well. Is Wowka right?” she asked one of her sons.

(Reporting by Miguel Pereira and Mari Saito; Editing by Christina Fincher) Ukrainian refugees find refuge and comfort in the Polish theater

Bobby Allyn

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