On February 24, 2022, the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. Hanna Bezuhla, business-to-business sales consultant and content creator at lemlist, an outreach platform, shared her first-hand stories about the war.
Bezuhla recalled the exact moments when she realized the war had started.
“I faced the war in kyiv – I woke up after a phone call followed by the sound of air raid sirens and distant explosions,” Bezuhla said. “I had exactly 1 minute of panic and then we started packing.”
Bezuhla lived with her boyfriend and her cat. They were forced to hastily pack their most essential items, warm clothes, documents, cat food and laptops. She shared how she managed to collect a few non-essential items that held a special place in her heart: a photo album, a cup and a toy.
Since the start of the war, Bezuhla has described her life as turned upside down. She had to leave her home in kyiv, then returned for a few days as a volunteer, to leave his house a second time.
Bezuhla’s employer offered him the possibility of taking refuge in Paris, France, and provided him with full support from the start of the war. However, Bezuhla chose to stay in his native Ukraine.
“I decided to stay until the end, I just can’t imagine leaving the country now,” Bezuhla said. “The longer I stay, the less I want to leave.”
She faced a difficult journey to safer territory in the western part of Ukraine. She currently lives in a friend of a friend’s house.
As Bezuhla said, “there are no foreigners in times of war”.
“The initial shock wears off, the fear is replaced by relentless optimism,” Bezuhla said. “I can be useful here, I try to be useful here.”
She found out how hard it is work since the beginning of the war, but she tries to make work between spending air raids in a makeshift air raid shelter built out of a bathroom.
Bezuhla expressed that she would like to return to her old work routine, but she is now waging the information war in Ukraine by fighting disinformation.
“I joined ‘Creative Forces of Ukraine’ where we fight Russian propaganda, fake news, and help raise awareness and garner support around the world,” Bezuhla said. “I write a lot: slogans, blog posts for LinkedIn, war diaries, articles, translations, etc.
Bezuhla shared her life experiences during the war.
“I haven’t listened to music, watched a movie, read a book or even combed my hair for 13 days now. I’m sleep deprived and exhausted, but I’m so lucky – I’m alive and relatively safe,” Bezuhla said.
According to Bezuhla, she was warned of the invasion months before it happened, but she was in denial. As Russia gathered troops around the Russian-Ukrainian border, Ukrainians knew that conflict with Russia was inevitable but no one expected a full-scale war.
Bezuhla reflects on memories of her father before the war. Bezuhla and her father talked a lot about the war, but she expressed that she was still skeptical. She described how her father always dreamed of being a military man and shared her father’s journey with the military.
“My father joined the army 3 and a half years ago. He has been working with volunteers since 2014, helping financially,” Bezuhla said. “Then he decided that ‘financially’ was not enough and joined the forces fighting for the temporarily occupied territories of Donbass as part of the ATO.”
Now Bezuhla’s father is one of the active military fighting to protect Ukraine. He follows his motto: “Freedom is worth the fight, however brutal it may be.”
Bezuhla said his father was one of the people who truly understood the threat of Russian invasion. He was also the first person to warn her that the war was about to begin.
“A few days before the war started, dad called me and told me to pack my emergency backpack because climbing is inevitable – I was still skeptical,” Bezuhla said. “When I looked at my phone at 5 a.m. on February 24and and I saw ‘Daddy’ I knew what was going to happen…’
Bezuhla recalled the sacrifice she and her family had to make in the years before the war because she only saw her father once a year.
“I was hurt because it’s been almost 4 years since there have been Christmas dinners, no birthday dinners, no housewarming – nothing,” Bezuhla said.
Since the start of the war, she has gained a new understanding of why her father was so keen on joining the army.
“I’m sorry I underestimated the threat. Like so many others in my country, we were not ready, but thank God for people like my father and other brave soldiers in our army, they were ready. We owe them everything,” Bezuhla said.
Bezuhla spoke of his greatest fear as the war continues in Ukraine.
“Right now, my biggest fear is that people will gradually stop caring about this war. That they will develop bad news fatigue,” Bezuhla said.
Bezuhla shared the ways American citizens can Support Ukraine in this war.
“Personally, I would ask everyone to support our army,” Bezuhla said. “But for people who don’t want to ‘support the bloodshed’, you can support our children and our refugees.”
Bezuhla expressed his gratitude to all those who contributed to the protection of Ukraine.
“I just want to thank everyone who has expressed their support with words, donations or actions. We see it. We feel it. We will always be grateful!” Bezuhla said.