Young ballerinas from Kharkiv are now among millions displaced by war in Ukraine: NPR


Kateryna Kltsova, right, with her two daughters Nadia, 7, center, and Maria, 11, left, with their new pink suitcase in a park in Lviv.

Brian Mann/NPR


hide caption

toggle caption

Brian Mann/NPR

Young ballerinas from Kharkiv are now among millions displaced by war in Ukraine: NPR

Kateryna Kltsova, right, with her two daughters Nadia, 7, center, and Maria, 11, left, with their new pink suitcase in a park in Lviv.

Brian Mann/NPR

LVIV, Ukraine – On a bright spring afternoon, Kateryna Kltsova pulls a bright pink suitcase through a park in Lviv. She is followed by her two daughters, Maria, 11, and Nadia, 7.

“These are ballerinas,” Kltsova said wearily. “And I am a teacher at the Kharkiv Ballet School.”

Here’s how quickly the war in Ukraine shattered lives: At Christmas, the children of Kltsova danced in a lavish production of Nutcracker in their hometown of Kharkiv. As Easter approaches, Kharkiv is now besieged by Russian forces who bombard the suburbs with artillery and rockets.

“It’s a very beautiful city,” says Kltsova, “but now it’s broken, day after day more. It’s very painful for me, you know.”

More than 10 million Ukrainians, or about one in four people, have been displaced by this war, mostly women and children. For now, the city of Lviv in western Ukraine is safe. It is full of families like the Kltsovas who have been torn apart by violence, separated from their loved ones and their former lives.

Young ballerinas from Kharkiv are now among millions displaced by war in Ukraine: NPR

Kateryna Kltsova shows off a photo on her phone of her eldest daughter Maria in a lavish production last Christmas of Nutcracker.

Brian Mann/NPR


hide caption

toggle caption

Brian Mann/NPR

To show what her family has lost, Kltsova pulls out her phone and pulls out photos and videos of children learning ballet steps.

After watching herself in a phone video, 11-year-old Maria smiles and steps into her puffy white coat and tennis shoes to give a little performance in the park. She gracefully extends forward, one leg rising back.

But when asked about the past few days, the girl breaks down and looks away.

“Yes,” said Maria, “I’m worried. It’s a nightmare for me.”

His father remained in Kharkiv as part of the Territorial Defense Force.

“I worry,” she said, “yes, so much.”

Like many displaced people passing through Lviv, the Kltsovas still seem to be in shock from this war, which began about 50 days ago.

The girls’ mother says she used to live in Moscow, loved it and still has a lot of friends in Russia. Now she feels betrayed.

Young ballerinas from Kharkiv are now among millions displaced by war in Ukraine: NPR

Kateryna Kltsova and her two daughters, Maria, 11, and Nadia, 7, had to leave their hometown of Kharkiv as Russian forces stepped up their attacks in eastern Ukraine.

Brian Mann/NPR


hide caption

toggle caption

Brian Mann/NPR

“All my dreams about my kids, because they’re little ballerinas, they’re shattered,” she says.

Kltsova finally decided it was time to flee when she saw images of corpses strewn in the suburbs around Kyiv. The family has been in Lviv for almost a week and is now planning to leave for France, where they will stay with relatives for some time. They just bought the pink suitcase for this trip.

But money is already tight and Kltsova does not know how long she will be taken in by her family.

“I don’t know. I don’t have a job now. I don’t know what I’ll do next,” she said.

Despite her fears and doubts for the future, Kltsova believes that the people of Kharkiv, including her husband, will continue to fight and that she will one day be able to return home.

“Yes, of course I do,” she said. “I believe and I want to go home. And I believe we will win.”

And then the Kltsovas leave, a mother and her two little ballerinas, dragging their pink suitcase through the park.

Iryna Matviyishyn contributed to this story in Lviv.


npr

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button