The darkest time is before the dawn

Text and photos by Nikalieta Plechak-Mohylna

Road to Greece : At the age of 14, Svitlana left her home – Crimea – after its annexation. For 8 years she was living in Kyiv, and had a calm student life. But fate again forced her to leave home on February 24. Insomnia accompanied her to Romania, followed by not knowing where to go. Fortunately, distant relatives from Bulgaria came to help our heroine and her family. Svitlana and her mother were helping as volunteers at a refugee center, but after a month the wind changed direction – Greece.

Greece: Since childhood, Svitlana immersed herself in the world of Greece. Her mother used to help her since she studied and worked there 25 years ago. But even though she had seen Greece before, after being here as a refugee she was confused about how life really is for a refugee. Adaptation was difficult. The first problems arose with medical documentation. Then, there was the language barrier, which caused a fear of getting to know the locals. Nonetheless, it disappeared after a conversation with a Greek on an excursion. At that time, Svitlana had a friend who showed her that she could continue to dream. Locals and godmothers also helped to them adapt to the language.

Ukrainian-Greek events: Since Svitlana is studying to become a psychologist, she provides free psychological help to Ukrainians in Thessaloniki. Unfortunately, people do not always ask for help because they do not know where to go. She got a job as a translator in some courses from the American project “Eduact”. This is how she became a mediator between Greek teachers and Ukrainian children. Later, she became a volunteer psychologist helping Ukrainians from different parts of the world.

Svitlana: I hope that the story of my dear friend will inspire schoolchildren and students to continue their path no matter what. Let this story show you that there is always a second way. Let your mind show the right decision in the 2024 elections!

Svitlana’s journey from Crimea to Greece, marked by the challenges of displacement and the quest for integration, highlights the profound impact of EU policies on individuals facing geopolitical upheaval. Her story illustrates the importance of the European Union’s decisions on migration, asylum, and integration, affecting lives across the continent.

As the EU elections approach (9th of June in Greece), it’s crucial for voters to recognize their power in shaping these policies. By participating in the elections, YOU have the opportunity to influence the direction of the European Union, ensuring it remains a beacon of hope, support, and opportunity for those, like Svitlana, who seek refuge and a new beginning.

Voting in the EU elections is not just a civic duty but a gesture of solidarity with those affected by global crises and policies. Svitlana’s resilience and contributions, despite her circumstances, remind us of the interconnectedness of our communities and the importance of engaging in the democratic process.

So, let her story inspire you to vote, making a commitment to a Europe that upholds dignity, inclusivity, and compassion for everyone!