Living in War: Ukrainian Woman Shares her Experience Behind the Front Lines

Hanna Bezuhla is a 26-year-old business-to-business sales consultant and content creator living in Ukraine.


Image via Hanna Bezuhla

A photo taken on Bezuhla’s trip to Lviv. She described having to stand for the entirety of the nine hour trip to the city. The young girl in the photo was asking her mother if she could hold their pet chinchilla.

By Alyssa Alexsonshk, News Contributor

On Feb. 24, 2022, the Russian invasion of the Ukraine began. Hanna Bezuhla, a business-to-business sales consultant and content creator at lemlist, an outreach platform, shared her firsthand stories of the war.  

Photo of Hanna Bezuhla. (Image via Hanna Bezuhla)

Bezuhla recalled the exact moments that she realized the war started.  

“I faced the war in Kyiv – woke up from a phone call followed by the sound of air raid sirens and distant explosions,” Bezuhla said. “I had exactly 1 minute of panic and then we started packing.”  

Bezuhla lived with her boyfriend and cat. They were forced to hastily pack their most essential items, warm clothes, documents, cat food and laptops. She shared how she  managed to gather a few non-essential items that held a special place in her heart: a photo album, mug and toy.  

Since the start of the war, Bezuhla described her life as being turned upside down. She had to leave behind her home in Kyiv, then returned for a few days as a volunteer, only to leave her home a second time.  

Bezuhla’s employer offered her an opportunity to seek refuge in Paris, France, and provided her with full support since the start of the war. However, Bezuhla has chosen to stay in her homeland of Ukraine. 

“I decided to stay till the end, just can’t imagine leaving the country now,” said Bezuhla. “The more I stay, the less I want to leave.” 

She faced a difficult journey moving to safer territory in the western part of Ukraine. She is currently living in the home of a friend’s friend.  

As Bezuhla stated that “there are no strangers in times of war.”  

“The initial shock wears out, fear gets replaced by relentless optimism,” Bezuhla said. “I can be useful here, I try to be useful here.”  

She has discovered how difficult it is  to work since the start of the war, but she tries to get some work done in between spending air raids in a makeshift bomb shelter built from a bathroom. 

Bezuhla’s homemade bomb shelter with her pet cat. She described spending hours in this shelter during air raids. (Image via Hanna Bezuhla)

Bezuhla expressed she would love to return  to her old work routine, but she is currently fighting the info war in Ukraine by combatting misinformation.  

“I joined the ‘Creative Forces of Ukraine’ where we fight Russian propaganda, fake news, and help raise awareness and collect support from all over the world,” Bezuhla said, “I write a lot: slogans, blog posts for LinkedIn, war diaries, articles, translations, etc.”  

Bezuhla shared her lifestyle experiences during the war. 

“I haven’t listened to music, watched a movie, read a book, or even combed my hair for 13 days now. I am sleep-deprived and exhausted, but I am so-so lucky— I’m alive and relatively safe,” Bezuhla said. 

According to Bezuhla, she was warned about the invasion months before it happened, but she was in denial. With Russia gathering troops around the Russia-Ukraine border, Ukrainians knew conflict was inevitable with Russia , but no one expected a full-scale war. 

Bezuhla reflected on the memories of her father leading up to the war. Bezuhla and her father talked a lot about war, but she expressed she was always skeptical. She described how her father always dreamt about being a military man and shared her father’s journey with the military.  

“My father joined the military 3.5 years ago. He has been working with volunteers since 2014, helping financially,” said Bezuhla. “Then he decided that ‘financially’ wasn’t enough and joined the forces that fight for temporarily occupied territories of Donbas as part of ATO.” 

Now, Bezuhla’s father is one of the active military members fighting to protect Ukraine. He follows his motto: “Freedom is worth the fight—however brutal.” 

Bezuhla expressed that her father was one of the people who truly understood the threat of the Russian invasion. He was also the first person to warn her that the war was about to begin. 

“A few days before the war started, dad called me and told me to get my emergency backpack ready because escalation is inevitable—I was still skeptical,” Bezuhla said. “When I looked at my phone at 5 am on February 24th and saw ‘Dad” I knew what was coming…” 

Bezuhla recalled the sacrifice she and her family had to make in the years leading up to the war as she only saw her father once a year. 

“I was hurt because it’s been almost 4 years of no Christmas dinners, no birthday dinners, no housewarming parties—no nothing,” Bezuhla said. 

Since the start of the war, she gained a new understanding of why her father was adamant about joining the military. 

“I am sorry I underestimated the threat. Like so many others in my country, we weren’t ready, but thank God for people like my father and other brave soldiers in our army—they were ready. We owe them everything,” Bezuhla stated. 

Bezuhla discussed what her biggest fear is as the war draws on in Ukraine. 

“Right now my biggest fear is that people will gradually stop caring about this war. That they’ll develop bad news fatigue,” said Bezuhla. 

Bezuhla shared the ways American citizens can support Ukraine in this war.  

“Personally, I would ask everyone to support our army,” said Bezuhla. “But for people who do not want to ‘support bloodshed,’ you can support our children and refugees.”  

Bezuhla expressed her gratitude towards all who have contributed to protecting Ukraine.  

“I just want to thank every everyone who expressed their support with words, donations or actions. We see it. We feel it. We will be forever grateful!” said Bezuhla.