When the shelling started in Bucha, Ukraine, on Feb. 27, 2022, 7-year-old Davyd and his family rushed to shelter in their basement.

They listened in terror as a neighbor’s house was hit by a missile strike. “We saw the shadow above us and we heard it,” said Davyd’s mother, Yevgeniya, 37. “We got stuck in our home. I didn’t even believe we would survive.” 

A borrowed gallon of gasoline and a rush to safety

By early March, Davyd’s parents decided they had to evacuate. The family borrowed a gallon of gasoline from a neighbor and drove to Kyiv, about 35 miles away. They found temporary shelter in a church, but they had to hide in the basement there, too, because of the constant threat of bombardment. “When a plane was flying low, I felt something bad in my stomach,” said Davyd. “I threw up.”

Eventually, Davyd and his family made it to Poland, and then on to London, where they are staying now with relatives. “My cousin has been to visit us in Bucha before, but this was my first time at his house,” he added.

Uprooted by war, a 7-year-old starts over in an unfamiliar country:

Davyd is adjusting to his new life far from old friends and familiar routines. First airplane trip. First London bus ride. First day at a new school in a completely different language. “The first day of [English] school was really stressful for him,” said Yevgeniya. “He cried a lot. But the next day, he ran to school.” 

Ukraine’s children aren’t responsible for the war, but they are paying the highest price

As of June 21, 2022, 5.3 million Ukrainian refugees remain in Europe, more than 90 percent of them women and children. Inside Ukraine, more than 7.1 million people have been internally displaced. UNICEF is working with partners to ensure children whose lives have been turned upside-down by violence receive the humanitarian aid they so urgently need.

Your contribution will support UNICEF’s response to the war in Ukraine. Vulnerable children need help urgentlyPlease donate.

Top photo: Seven-year-old Davyd and his family fled Bucha, Ukraine, after shelling began in Feb. 2022. They are now staying with relatives in London. © UNICEF/UN0644827/Giliam. Video edited by Tong Su for UNICEF USA.