LVIV, Ukraine. In the arched hall of a former boarding school in Lvov, Kamila Gorbacheva and other teenage girls arrange dishes while the younger children take their seats, then devour meals handed out by canteen staff.
These displaced children from eastern Ukraine, most of whose parents could not leave critical jobs such as hospitals or the army, survived a perilous escape, nearly missing a Russian bombardment, and fled their hometowns to find refuge on the other side of the country . .
“I was very worried that we were leaving without our parents, alone,” said 14-year-old Camila, adding that when she got on the train alone, “it was terrible for me.”
Now kids are traveling through a strange new reality: they go to school and have movie nights, reclaiming something from their normal childhood, even as they frantically call their parents every day to make sure they’re still alive.
“We were rescued by a miracle,” said Anna Palova, a quiet 14-year-old girl with pink hair and manicured nails. “I just want this war to end and I go home to my parents.”