“Mum, are those fireworks?”
“No, dear. It’s the beginning of the war.”
Iryna, a new mother, found herself saying things she never expected. On an ordinary day in February, her life and her family’s life took a sudden turn. This one event forced her to make a decision that would change everything forever.
Iryna, with her mother Tetiana and infant son Sava, had to leave Odesa in Ukraine in search for safety. Her husband and her father stayed back in Ukraine to serve the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Alone and unprepared, Iryna and her mother embarked on a journey full of uncertainty.
“At the time, I was sure the war wouldn't last long—just a few months, and we'd be back,” Iryna recalls, thinking back to that day.
Amid the chaos, Iryna and her mother joined the other women and children seeking safety. Remarkably, Sava, just a nursing baby, was among them. On March 9, 2022, they arrived to Poland. With no familiar faces or friends to help them, these strong women showed an extraordinary spirit that carried them through this tough time.
Tetiana, Iryna’s mother, remembers her daughter’s incredible drive, especially during the darkest hours. It was Iryna’s determination that kept them going, her focus on protecting her mother and son, and on building a place they could call home.
“I never really thought about what a ‘home’ means before—it was just where you returned each day. But now, after everything, and after coming to Poland, I’ve come to realize that home is where safety resides, where your soul finds peace. Home is like a stronghold, where you’re surrounded by love and smiles await you—a place of safety. Every mother wants that secure place for her children.”
Today, Iryna and her family can say they’ve found their home in Poland. The kindness and support of the Polish people helped them find comfort and move past the hardships and terrors of war.
“Today, we can fall asleep and rest peacefully until morning,” Iryna says. “We’re surrounded by care and empathy. Many kind people have helped us move past our difficult experiences. We want to thank the Polish people for their kindness and support. With the help of Habitat for Humanity Poland, we’re rebuilding our life. The incredible hospitality we’ve experienced makes us want to extend a helping hand to others who are struggling, to help them find happiness in Poland like we did. Just as Warsaw and the whole country helped us, we want to give back the warmth and support we’ve received!”
In a world of uncertainty, Iryna’s story shows the unbreakable spirit of families seeking safety and unity. Through her courage and the warmth of the Polish people, Iryna has paved a path for her family, proving that even in tough times, hope and resilience can light the way.