“I woke up when the bombing started”

Rehina Leidenius is a Customer Service Support Assistant at our Hapag-Lloyd office in Odessa. In the last weeks she flew to our QSC in Izmir. We talked to Rehina about her experiences since the Russian invasion started.

Rehina, what are your personal experiences since the invasion started?

Rehina Leidenius: I live with my three-year-old daughter and my husband on the 9th floor of an apartment building. On 24 February I woke up at 5 in the morning when the first bombs exploded . The first thing that came to my mind was, “The war has started!”. I was terrified. My husband was still sleeping, and I didn’t’ know what to do. I knew we needed to get out of the flat because we shouldn’t stay on the 9th floor – it is too high up to quickly get out of the building and anything could happen. So, I was packing clothes, food and other survival stuff. My daughter and my husband woke up shortly after, and we quickly went to my parents’ house. Their house is in the countryside, and we are safer here. I was trying to keep calm and to feel hope that everything will be alright. I would never have guessed that my family would have to hide because of war.

In the first days of the war we heard two rockets hit a little lake near the house we were staying at. The air raid warning was sounding again and again. We were checking our telegram channel constantly, because it informed us when the air raids are over. My mom and I are now still afraid for our husbands when they go somewhere. We worry about them, and we want them to be with us at home. We don’t know what tomorrow brings.

Rehina Leidenius and her family

Is it difficult to buy foot and other necessities?

There are long queues. People are standing in line, hoping to buy the necessities for their families – like milk, bread and eggs. But the prices are increasing all the time. We were standing in line for three hours to buy meat. We were told that this was the last chance to buy meat because the driver who is delivering it said that his salary is too low to provide meat in the future.

It really helped when we received our salaries for March in advance from Hapag-Lloyd. We tried to withdraw all the money from our cards and trade them for dollars – because nobody knows what happens to our currency, the Hryvnia.

You have now fled to Izmir in the meantime. How are you feeling about that?

I have often thought about leaving the country. The main reason is my daughter. She is my future. My husband and I are very young parents, so I think it would be easy for us to adapt to another country. Together with another employee from my office, we have now left Ukraine and arrived safely in Turkey. QSC Director Chris Schmid has now warmly welcomed us to our office in Turkey. Other colleagues have moved on to Istanbul and Athens. Nevertheless, it is still unclear for us whether we will really stay in Izmir or return to Ukraine, where my husband is at the moment.

How do you feel emotionally? What is going through your mind?

I pray to God to help us. I want people to understand that this war is pointless. How can we fight against each other? How can neighboring countries kill each other? I pray that there will be peace. It’s not right that Russia attacks us. My heart bleeds. I am a mother and I see all these young men trying to protect us. On one hand I am extremely thankful, on the other hand I cry because they’re too young to die in a war. Every mother in Ukraine is crying right now.

There seems to be a lot of solidary within Ukraine.

Sure. Russia invaded our country. And I ask myself, why did they do it? What’s the purpose? It can’t be just to kill us. It is not fair that our children must fight and kill each other. In history, Russia and Ukraine were one. Right now, we aren’t. But indeed the people are very united in Ukraine. We support each other, and we feel that we are family.

What would be your message to the people in the world?

Take care of your family and keep the love in your heart. If persons have love in their hearts, they will never hurt anybody. Love protects everything. We need more love and less violence.

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