‘Home is home’: Ukrainians in Poland consider options as Russia’s war enters new phase
Many of the 3 million Ukrainians who found safe harbor in Poland amid war at home now find themselves at a crossroads: Build a new life in Poland or return to Ukraine?
Natalia Babenko watched as her 4-year-old daughter Mariia napped beneath a blanket in a converted office space just outside of Warsaw, Poland. A Barbie doll sat on the windowsill and a children’s TV show played on a laptop.
“It's a warm place. ... There's hot water. There's a kitchen. There's a place where you can prep, where you can wash the sheets, all this they gave to us.”
Natalia Babenko fled with her family from Ukraine to Poland
“It's a warm place,” she said. “There's hot water. There's a kitchen. There's a place where you can prep, where you can wash the sheets, all this they gave to us.”
Babenko has been living in the office building with her mother, three children, and other family members since March 11, after they fled the southeastern city of Mykolaiv, Ukraine.
As free accommodations go, it could be worse. It’s clean and safe. But a converted office space — however well-equipped — is not home, and Babenko said she can’t stop thinking about returning to Ukraine.
It’s been nearly two months since Russia invaded Ukraine. As Russia now shifts its aim toward control of Ukraine’s eastern regions, many of the 3 million Ukrainians who found safe harbor in Poland now find themselves at a crossroads: Return home or accept the idea of starting over in a new country?
Listen at The World.