Ticket back home with an open date

    REPORTS  05 December 2022 - 10:50

    Sadyar Aliyev

    We decided to tell this story so that people in Europe not only imagine the fate of refugees from Ukraine, millions of whom left their homeland with vague prospects of returning to their destroyed cities and villages but also appreciate that they have a peaceful sky above their heads, electric light in houses and water flowing from taps.

    Alla and Veronika Makushins have lived all their lives in the city of Mykolaiv, in Ukraine. In Soviet times, it was a city of shipbuilders located on the banks of the Southern Bug River, not big, but not small either. Although the Mykolaiv shipyard did not operate at full capacity before the war, but a cosy city with a population of 470 thousand people had its own theatre and philharmonic society and is the birthplace of such Soviet mega-stars as the Meladze brothers and Igor Krutoy. It was in the field of culture that Alla and Veronica worked before the war. Alla, a certified art critic, worked as an administrator at the Philharmonic, and Alla's beautifully singing daughter Veronika was a soloist in the local theatre. The war radically changed everything, which shocked Ukraine, the entire former USSR, and the whole world. At first, mother and daughter came to work out of inertia. There were rehearsals, though there were no concerts and performances. Russian bombs and shells began to rain down on the city. At first, it was sporadic attacks. And it was during this period that the author of these lines managed to interview Alla Makushina in an attempt to find out how Ukrainians live in war conditions, how they equip their life in such conditions, how supplies are arranged, what the mood of ordinary people in the face of trials is. (The interview can be read here https://caliber.az/en/post/87814/).


    Photo by Alla Makushina from an interview with Caliber.Az

    However, over time, the situation became worse, it was simply dangerous to stay in Mykolaiv, especially after the capture of the neighbouring city of Kherson by Russian troops. After much deliberation, the family made a difficult decision - to leave the country and try to wait until the hostilities in the Nikolaev region subsided. Alla faced a difficult choice to stay and put the life of her 21-year-old daughter in danger or to leave, leaving her sick mother alone in the city with interruptions in supplies and under enemy artillery fire. In the end, the issue with Alla's mother was resolved, and the mother and daughter decided to go. First to Spain, to Alla's friend, who settled in this country almost 10 years ago, and then to Great Britain, to Wales, where a family was found ready to accept the Makushins' mother and daughter. On August 14, the family went by bus, first to Odesa, and then to Bucharest (Romania).

    On the bus to Bucharest

    On the 15th, they went to Malaga (Spain), to Alla's friend, where they waited for a whole three months for a British visa. Finally, on November 20, they were able to fly to Manchester.

    The route of Alla and Veronica in search of shelter

    Hospitable hosts, Robert Martin and Sarah Tudor were waiting for them here. Sarah is a university lecturer; Robert is an entrepreneur and owner of an engineering firm. Sarah and Robert have four children, a big house, but the children have scattered all over Britain and there is a lot of free space in the house. That is why the Martin family decided that they were able to help the refugees from Ukraine.


    Rob Martin, Sara Tudor, Alla and Veronica Makushins

    Today, Makushins are adapting to a new country, learning the language, local customs and lifestyle. They hope to find work and housing so as not to feel like a burden. When asked when they will be able to return to their homeland, they only shrug their shoulders with sadness in their eyes. After all, no one can answer it even today, almost 9 months after the start of the war.


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