Miraculous rescue from the bombs: how a woman with a disability from Chernihiv made it to California

Inna Volkova, a lonely elderly woman with difficulty moving because of her bad leg, was caught by the war in her native Chernihiv. Under constant bombardment, it seemed that there was no longer a chance to get out of the city. However, Inna, having come a long way, was able to reunite with her daughter and today lives with her in safe California. She spoke about her miraculous salvation in an interview with ForumDaily.

Wonderful bomb rescue: how a disabled woman from Chernihiv got to California

Inna in a German hospital, where doctors treated her upon arrival from Ukraine. Photo from the personal archive of Inna Volkova

The first shelling

«On February 28, I was sitting in my apartment in the boudoir. The fact is that I live in an old house, where the walls reach a meter thick. My mother-in-law liked to repeat that this house was built back in 1906 and survived the revolution, the Civil and Patriotic Wars, in general, all the upheavals of the 20th century. I hoped that he would survive this war as well,” says the woman.

However, the calculation was not justified. The house was located in the city center, not far from the clinic. It was on her that the first blow of the Russian shelling fell.

«Only the blast wave has reached us. Naturally, it was very scary. Then followed a blow to the cinema named after Shchors. The shell even flew into our yard. The impact shattered all the windows. If I had just stood in the middle of the room, and not been in the boudoir, then I would no longer be here,” recalls the refugee.

Miraculous bomb rescue: how a woman with a disability from Chernihiv made it to California

The heroine's apartment after the bombing. Photo from the personal archive of Inna Volkova

In addition to the windows, the explosion damaged the roof and walls. In addition, gas and hot water were turned off in the house, as a result of which the batteries began to defrost, and cold water poured into Inna Volkova's apartment from the top floor. It became obvious that it was impossible to stay in this apartment any longer. Inna and her daughter Olga, who has been living in the United States for a long time, began to look for evacuation opportunities.

There were no “Green Corridors” at that time, and people who took the risk left on their own, often fell under Russian shelling. Finally, the women found the Jewish Mission, purposefully engaged in the evacuation of people from the war zone, including the most inaccessible places under blockade or under constant bombardment.

Bomb shelter

The evacuation project was created by an honorary member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Georgy Logvinsky with the support of the Israeli Embassy, ​​the police and the Border Guard Service of Ukraine. Since the invasion, mission volunteers have managed to evacuate over 15,000 people. What was especially important, the volunteers first of all tried to help the most vulnerable segments of the population, including the elderly and sick people.

«I asked one of the volunteers, Natasha so that she would come for me and take me to the bomb shelter, because I myself could not reach it. Natasha was able to get to me only in the evening, because she was driving from the Ukraine Hotel, which had been bombed just before that, and it was difficult to get through numerous patrols,” says Inna.

However, once in the bomb shelter, the woman realized that she was unable to withstand such conditions.

«There was complete unsanitary conditions. To be honest, I've never seen anything like it in my entire life. The cellar was packed with people, including very young children. The children were sick, coughing, and with a sore leg it was impossible for me not only to lie down, but even to sit down. I could hardly find a chair. There I met a woman, Irina. We sat together the whole night. The next morning, Ira agreed to take me to her apartment, and the next day our departure was planned. The situation in the city was getting worse, and the volunteers honestly told us that they did not know when they would be able to pick up people next time,” recalls the refugee.

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“It was a real horror movie”

Another volunteer, Alexandra, gave a ride to the gathering place for the departing women. Quite a few people have already gathered there, waiting for the buses.

«It was some kind of nightmare. We were in an ordinary residential area among nine-story houses that had already been fired upon before. Shells lay on the ground. Suddenly they started shooting again – it looked like it was artillery. We were told not to approach the houses and not to stand under the windows, otherwise they might rain down on us. I have never experienced greater fear in my life and, God forbid, I will never experience it again. I will never forget how the nine-story building that stood in front of us, literally five meters away, caught fire before our eyes, like in some kind of horror movie. We didn't know where to hide, and we just stood with Ira under an old tree in the yard. So we stood the whole shelling,” says Inna.

A miraculous rescue from the bombs: how a woman with a disability from Chernihiv made it to California

Photo from the personal archive of Inna Volkova

Finally, the buses arrived.

«The guys worked quickly. There were a lot of people – more than these buses could carry, but they somehow accommodated everyone. At first, mothers with small children, elderly people and people with disabilities were seated. We were driving in a column, strictly in line behind the leading bus, under fire, through many checkpoints, in a roundabout way, and only six hours later we reached Kyiv,” the woman recalls.

Kyiv hospitality

Refugees assure that they did not expect such a warm and kind attitude that they encountered upon arrival.

«We were placed just like a king. First we were brought to the Kyiv synagogue. We just got to the celebration of Purim, listened to the speech of the chief rabbi. In those days, martial law was declared in Kyiv, it was impossible to leave the city, and we were placed in a hotel,” says the woman.

After a warm welcome, the refugees went to Moldova, only buses, According to them, this time there were much more. In this direction, there were already fewer checkpoints, although on the Moldovan border, the refugees again had to face a long check of documents.

In Chisinau, Ukrainians were met by new volunteer groups. They were placed in the gym, and the next day they were helped to get to Romania.

«I am deeply grateful to these guys for saving lives. We were accompanied by women with three-month-old children, people with disabilities, someone even went with animals, and they helped everyone. They fed us, found hotels in surprisingly quiet places where no shots were even heard, and it seemed that peacetime had come. I don’t know what would have happened to me without these guys,” Inna admits.

Shelter in Germany and moving to America

In Bucharest, the refugees were again taken in by volunteers, but then everyone had to decide for themselves where to go next. Volunteers helped Inna and her new friend Irina buy a ticket to Germany. In Frankfurt, there were people who managed to meet women at the airport and take them to a reception center for refugees. Only there, finally, was Inna able to meet her daughter Olga, who had flown to her from America.

A miraculous rescue from the bombs: how a woman with a disability from Chernihiv made it to California

Inna and Irina (left to right) in Germany. Photo from the personal archive of Inna Volkova

Fortunately, everything ended well. The women were able to find a wonderful family for Irina, who agreed to accept the refugee in their house in the suburbs of Frankfurt.

We are corresponding with her now, and she writes that she has settled down wonderfully, and people have treated her very well – kind. She looks after their 4-year-old son, and the owners gave her a nice room in a large house, they make a temporary visa and other documents, and she gradually begins to learn German. It turned out that she saved my life, and other people then saved her. I had an American visa, and I flew with my daughter to America,” Inna Volkova concludes her story.

The refugee assures that without the selfless work of volunteers on every section of the journey, she get out of the shelled city and get to Europe.

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