RZESZOW, Poland - Despite the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia, many Ukrainian refugees have decided to go back to Ukraine and live with their families in safer cities. But there are still those who stay in shelters in Poland because they have nowhere to go.
Anna Ponomazenko shares how difficult it was to leave her husband and son before crossing the border to Poland. She recounts, "We were all crying. My husband was crying but the Russians were shooting so we had to leave fast."
She and her 14-yr-old daughter and two boys aged 9 and 3 left because their hometown is now occupied by the Russians.
Anna told CBN News her fears, "I decided to flee Ukraine because many children are being abused by Russian soldiers. Many children also lost their arms and limbs in the bombing. My husband and oldest son are left in our house and guard it against the looting by the Russian soldiers. I miss the times when we were happy just being together as a family."
Anna and her children now live with 15 other families is a shelter in Rzeszow, Poland.
Among them is Alexandra Hrabchenko. She shared that just a few hours after they arrived in the shelter, they received the horrible news that their house in Kharkiv was bombed.
"It is really very sad when I think that we don't have our house to go back to in Ukraine. I realized that life is too short and that we should make the most out of it. I just want Russia to stop this war," Alexandra said.
Her friend, Veronica Shestopalova, shared the same sentiment, saying, "Me too, I want Russia to stop this war and meet my family and friends. I hope all of them are alive."
Some of the shelters where the Ukrainian refugees stay are owned by private individuals. One of them is a Polish widow, Maria Mroczkowska, who opened her home to 52 refugees.
Maria said, "When I lost my husband last year, I was so depressed and I was advised to travel and take a vacation. But when the war broke out, I decided to use my money to help the refugees."
Maria provided comfortable beds and used her resources to feed them. Soon, her supplies began to run out.
When Operation Blessing learned about her needs, they brought her much-needed food like pasta, rice, canned goods, cooking oil, flour, hygiene and cleaning supplies.
Operation Blessing also helped other shelters like the one helping Anna, Veronica, and Alexandra.
"I feel more inspired when people from different countries come to help. Thank you for all that you do," Maria said.