“We go to Mariople today.” Yevhen spoke seriously to each of the men. “They try to send women and children to Russia.”
We had heard Russia was making promises of safe passage as long as those still in Mariople and other besieged cities went to Russia. How they would be treated there was questionable.
“This is when women and girls become slaves.” Olga shook her large wooden spoon.
“We will stop it.” One of the men who had shown his bravery so often, stood tall.
Olga had prepared a meal that would give the men strength. “Cheese and bread to last and snacks.” She held out my backpack that we had brought on the plane filled with snacks.
Before they left for Mariople, Maxsim ran back to tell us news.
“Navy turned away.” We all cheered knowing that today Odessa would not be overrun with Russian sailors.
Maxsim waved as he we back to his men.
“Buvaite” (goodbye) We all called out.
Olga then looked at me. “Today you must work.” She pulled me up and walked me to the kitchen.
I knew she was right. Tomorrow we were going to 1991. I needed to have some strength and resolve even if my head hurt.
I never could remember people’s names that came through our makeshift refugee center but this one young woman was so remarkable. Her name was Yana. The refugees told of this woman’s bravery. She had bribed some soldiers to get information before they left their city. This told them where it was unsafe to travel. Several times, she stole rifles off sleeping soldiers. We wondered if they were sleeping permanently. She had slit a man’s throat to protect one of the children.
“She’s a one-woman army.” My husband whispered.
We met with Yana and drew a map of the safest route to get to the border. We also drew a map of an alternate more difficult route. Before they left the church, we gave her a large canvas sack of bread and cheese.
“Its old but it might help.” My husband gave her a Kalashnikov.
She handed the rifle to her younger sister, Ruslana.
Olga smiled at the younger version of Yana. “her name means like a lion.” She smiled.
I wiped yet another tear for the bravery of the many young men and women who were fighting the Bear called Russia.
People I am visiting today: