How A Single Mother Escaped Ukraine With Her 5-Year-Old

Kseniya Kharchenko, a single mother of a five-year-old son, had to make a hard choice after the Russians invaded her home country: stay or flee.

Katie Sue Webber
Katie Sue Webber
Mom to two sweet little boys. Helping moms is her passion.
Last updated
March 7, 2023

Kseniya Kharchenko and her then five-year-old son fled Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, just a day after the Russian invasion. With many friends and family staying behind, she considered all her options. But after civilian survival training for how to live in a city under siege, she realized, “I don't want to survive in a besieged city.” She immediately bought a radio, purchased extra gas, made copies of essential documents, and packed her bags to leave.

Fleeing Ukraine was a blast from the past. Random connections she made over the years reached out offering safety and a home for her and her son. The first place she stayed was with an ex-boyfriend's mother in a small city in Poland. They then moved on to Kraków. Poland quickly become inundated with people fleeing the war and Kseniya become very worried about finding housing and work. She had to work multiple jobs to provide and the economic reality of being a refugee — especially a single mother — was frightening.

Despite the overwhelm and burden of being a refugee, her son is a huge driving force to keep going every day. “The act of protecting her son's life brings her strength and gives her purpose when she feels overwhelmed by the events of the last year.”

She eventually moved to Vienna, Austria where she took a job with the Institute for Human Sciences and found more stable housing. Kseniya, a writer and translator, has thankfully been able to use her skills for translating books. She’s currently working on the Documenting Ukraine project, which offers grants to researchers, journalists, and artists to capture their perspectives of the war.

When thinking ahead, she greatly struggles to do anything but take one day at a time. "This is a very weird thing of being here, making these plans in advance, but at the same time having these fantasies of how your life can look like and also having these dreams of being in control enough to choose to change your life and to decide what you want."

Full article (via Business Insider)

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