A message from Olha in Kyiv, one year on

Take note – story published 1 year and 3 months ago

Soon after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, LSM brought you a message from Olha, a young woman living in Kyiv as bombs and missiles rained down. Now she tells us how her life has changed in the last twelve months.

"My name is Olha Oltarzhevska. I was born in Kyiv and live in Kyiv. Even in the most difficult days for my country, starting from February 24, 2022, and to this day, I am here.

I want to share with you my thoughts on the year of the war. I would like to share my reflection. Perhaps this will somehow help you in thinking about the anniversary of a full-scale war for independence, territorial integrity, patriotism and European values.


This day was supposed to be the happiest of my life. Since the age of 7 I have been saving money for a trip to Norway, because I dreamed of seeing the Northern Lights. We doubted for a long time when to go, but we chose the dates from February 24 to March 2 (to leave in the winter very beautifully and come home in the spring). Until the last, I kept my intentions a secret. Intriguingly, I told my friends for a month that this day would divide my life into "before" and "after".

A few days before departure, I began to feel something strange: embarrassment, anxiety, fear. What is it, Olga? These qualities and feelings are unacceptable for you. You planned everything perfectly. You have insurance in your hands, tickets to Scandinavia. You calculated everything down to the smallest detail: weather, transfers, museum and restaurant schedules, the activity of the magnetic field to see the Northern Lights. Fjords, salmon, Munch's "Scream" – all are already waiting for you.

My alarm clock rang at 4:30 in the morning, I had to get up and go to the airport, and at the same second the first explosion sounded. The airline sent a message "Please stay at home, your flight is canceled." February 24. Fatal day. I wake up, I hear the first explosion. My father asks me: “Have you packed your hand luggage for the trip? If so, take it, cancel the taxi and go to the basement."

Shelter in Kyiv
Shelter in Kyiv


A year has passed. It turns out I didn't lie. This day really did divide my life into "before" and "after". But not as I would have liked. Carry-on luggage for a long-awaited trip has unwittingly turned into an emergency case. I take it to my gray basement in Kyiv instead of a Nordic fairy tale. And one dream changed to another.

It's sad, of course. But somehow it's good, too. If my father and I went on the trip, and my mother and younger sister stayed at home, it would be several times worse. Because my mother is a worrier and takes stress very hard. Therefore, everything that happens in our life is always for the better.

I know that somehow, one day, I will be at a distance of 2,662 km from Kyiv and I will look up at the Northern Lights. But first - I will raise my head at home to see the peaceful sky."

Olha Oltarzhevska
Olha Oltarzhevska

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