LVIV, Ukraine — In the vaulted dining room of a former boarding school in Lviv, Kamila Horbachova and other teenage girls set out dishes while younger children clambered on chairs and then hid in dinners distributed by cafeteria staff.
These displaced children from eastern Ukraine — most of whose parents were unable to leave critical jobs like those in hospitals or the military — endured a grueling breakout, narrowly missing a Russian bombing raid, and fled their hometowns to seek refuge from the other side of the country.
“I was very concerned that we would leave alone without our parents,” said Kamila, 14, adding that when she got on the train alone, “it was terrible for me.”
Now the kids navigate a strange new reality: they go to school and have movie nights, regaining something of a normal childhood, even as they frantically call their parents daily to make sure they’re still alive.
“It was just a miracle that we were rescued,” said Anna Palova, a sweet-natured 14-year-old with pink hair and manicured nails. “I just want this war to be over and return to my parents.”