“I am a volunteer and would like to highlight just how incredibly inspiring Tetiana is. I got to know her through my experience working with her in the past two months. As we were working on trying to get civilians out of Kherson (a city now entirely under the control of Russia), one of the women leaving for safety asked us if we could help her friend Tetiana. Tetiana is from a small region in Kherson but has lived in Kherson for a few years prior to the war. She is an amateur photographer and worked in Kherson as a barista, trying to also start as a photographer. When the war started, she traveled back to her village to reach her mother and other relatives. Within weeks, Russian tanks started moving through the village and there were constant explosions. One evening I called her, and she stated that she would like to come to Canada. I explained to her that she would first need to make it out of the region safely, and then fill out her application for a Canadian visa. The next morning when I woke up, I received a message from her that she had filled out and submitted her application. I could not believe it as she does not speak a word of English – a lot of people call me every day with all kinds of questions for the application, so it is not an easy process. She said she used an online translator. It was unbelievable to me. For the next few weeks, we were in touch every day, yet nobody would go to the area where she was staying. One day she wrote to me and said that she found someone going to another village, so she took the chance and went with them. In that second village, she found another person who would drive to the nearest city, Krivyi Rig. Once Tetiana made it to the city, the volunteers put her on an evacuation train for a 19-hour trip to Lviv. From Lviv, she traveled to our volunteers’ home in Poland. This was her first time going abroad. In Poland, we put her on a plane to go to Bucharest, where her friend was staying awaiting her Canadian visa. This was Tetiana’s first time on a plane.
As soon as she got to Bucharest, she managed to convince her mother, also called Tetiana, grandmother, cousin, and aunt to take the same route, and they did. Tetiana is such a courageous young woman, who was always positive throughout the experience and had to stay strong for her entire family. She never complained about anything and every time I asked if she had needed money in Bucharest, she would say that they have everything and people are helping them there. I have confidence that Tetiana is an incredible woman who has a bright future ahead of her, and just needs a little help to start a new life in Canada. She is the kind of person who takes one percent of what life gives to her and makes it one hundred.” – Submitted by Elena Lapina on behalf of Tetiana