The sisters Anna (15) and Katia (14) became friends with 13-year-old Yeva from Oegstgeest shortly after they arrived in Voorschoten four years ago. Their mother had accepted a job as a legal director at a multinational, while Yeva's family had already lived there since 2015. Now they are inseparable.
Anna: “Katia and I go to the British School and Yeva to the Stedelijk Gymnasium. Even though we don't go to the same school, we spend a lot of time together. Our families also go on holiday together. All three of us were born in Kyiv but we have been living here for a while now. We still have a lot of family there too – grandpas and grandmas, uncles, aunts and cousins.”
Katia: “Last week Wednesday we had just arrived in Kyiv with our mother. We were there to have our ID cards renewed. Nothing seemed to be wrong and we went to sleep like normal. The next morning at 5 o'clock the first bombs fell. By then we went for our IDs really fast and left immediately. Flying was not an option anymore, so we had to get rides with people to the border. The sounds of fighter jets, helicopters and gunfire was everywhere.”
“It was very frightening and I hope no one ever has to go through what we went through,” Anna adds. “At one point we had to get out of the car to hide behind the trees because of an air raid siren. Fortunately, mom knows a lot of back roads so we arrived at the border with Moldova reasonably quickly. But their airport was also closed, so we had to continue to Romania. From there we could eventually fly back to the Netherlands via Vienna. The entire journey back to the Netherlands took 48 hours. We got home just in time for the protest in Amsterdam.”
“My Dutch friends try to support me,” Yeva says, “but they will never understand how it feels for us. Only we understand that. Of course, we are concerned for our family there. We always try to be in contact with them. Most have fled to safer places in the country.”
“Ukrainians are incredibly brave,” Anna claims. “I am so proud of them. When spring break is over, I'm going to give a presentation at assembly at school. And we’ll organize a fundraiser. If I'd been 18 years old already, I'd be signing up for the military. I want to help defend the country I grew up in!”