Denys and his partner Olga were working out how best to escape from the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.
But it wasn’t just the fact that they have five-year-old daughter Inga, five cats and two dogs to look after, Denys is completely blind and Olga has 1% vision.
“We wouldn’t have physically managed to get on the train,” explained Denys. “Personally I still badly wanted to stay.
“There was an air battle just above the roofs of our houses. Once everything is destroyed and nothing really functions, we become more of a burden to other people.”
The couple struggled as Denys is completely blind and Olga has 1% vision
Having made the decision to leave they knew that trying to take a train or a bus to a neighbouring country would be impossible for them.
“Physically we do not have as many hands, like five cats and two dogs makes like seven cages,” he said.
“There is a child we have to control and we cannot do that visually so basically we have to keep her by the hand, especially at the railway station in these circumstances, when it’s crowded and there are all kinds of different people, you never know what may happen.
Five-year-old daughter Inga travelled with her parents to Poland
“You have to firmly keep the child by the hand and then there are walking canes which we have to operate so we just physically do not have as many hands.”
The only option was to go by car. Denys explained they waited for two days but their driver didn’t come.
He said: “For two days we were sitting on our suitcases expecting that we would be leaving like in 20 minutes. We had our dogs packed in the cages for quite a while.
“In between we were constantly hearing the shootings and the planes and it was really stressful.”
Then they got another offer to drive them to the Ukraine border from the relative of a former neighbour. By now Olga – who is nearly six months pregnant – was desperate to leave.
‘I don’t know who I worried more in that moment about, my child who is five or about my child who is still in my stomach.
People in Ukraine have been seeking refuge in countries including Poland and Hungary
“I was thinking of Inga all the time. I think I was just mostly focused on the moment because it was stressful enough and I just knew I had to survive this journey.
“I had to think of my children first, both of them.”
But the driver was only allowed to take them to a kind of no man’s land around a kilometre long between Ukraine and Poland – and again they wouldn’t have been able to juggle their dogs, cats, daughter, their suitcases. At first the border guards refused to help.
Denys said: “Basically the problem was to cross the border on foot it’s like about a kilometre and nobody could accompany us because they are not allowed to.
Denys and his partner Olga faced a number of setbacks as they tried to leave Ukraine
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“So we walked and then we got help from the border guards on the Ukrainian side.”
They were met by a different driver from Poland who delivered them safely to Warsaw and an was apartment offered to them for free by a well-wisher.
It’s not easy settling in a strange city but neighbours drop by with essentials.
Rafal Szymczak knocked on the door with things for their cat.
He said: “There are people who will get by and others; There are some people who can manage themselves and there are some people who really need assistance. They need help.”