As you already know, I arrived in Northern Ireland in November 2021, before the war in Ukraine began. I arrived in the country legally, on a 6 months work visa and planned to fly home after the end of the contract. But life has made its own adjustments.
I worked in a place where the most of the employees were Ukrainians. And even before February 24, we discussed the possibility of starting the war (that time the Biden administration announced Putin’s plans). I was one of those people who completely didn’t believe in such course of events and called these article a provocation. So as you see my naivety knows no bounds.
On the day the military actions began, we were all working and I could see the feelings of my colleagues. These people were broken, depressed, they were worried about their families, women were crying, no one knew what to do.
I was both upset and angry at Russia’s actions.
But I continued to believe that this was some kind of misunderstanding and it would soon be over. That Russia just wants to scare Europe, to show that world needs to consider its opinion, but it doesn’t want to bomb civilians, hospitals, schools, kindergartens, supermarkets, destroy cities and human lives, brainwash its own citizens, become a dictatorial state. I was wrong.
I continued to work, my visa was still valid, and I hoped that by the end of it the conflict would exhaust itself. But that didn’t happen. What’s more, I was fired before the end of my contract. After the beginning of the war, we were all under stress and the working capacity of the employees slawed sharply. We were warned that we had to do better and given a two-week probationary period. After that time, some people were fired, including me.
This happened in the end of March. I was allowed to stay in the house for another week until the end of the month, after which I had to move out. Thus, I was left without a job, without housing, with a limited budget, an expiring visa, without the opportunity to stay in the UK (yes, Ukrainians had their visas extended, but my visa was put into Russian passport).
I can say with conference that this was the most terrible period of my life. I would never wish anyone to experience it. I was desperate, depressed, at a crossroads. I was chaotically thinking about what to do next and I had these options:
– To go back to Crimea.
But I didn’t want to be involved in the actions of Russia and I still believe that even being in the country and not opposing, cruelty is committed with your tacit consent. But the attempt to say something and protest is stopped by fines and imprisonment. And sorry, but I’m not ready to sit in prison..
– To stay in GB illegally.
But I’m the most law-abiding person I know. Not because I think you can’t cheat, but because I’m a coward. I choose to tell the truth and live according to my conscience in order not to live in fear.
– To claim asylum.
I’ve been thinking about this point all my free time. Between of all of the above, it is the hardest and most ambiguous. It takes a lot of endurance and willpower to live in ignorance and under the supervision of the authorities all the time.
I wasn’t sure until the last moment that this was my option. I was standing outside the Home Office and hesitant to enter. I really didn’t know what to do. But everything was decided by itself. Apparently the guards saw me standing with my luggage and lost in the territory of Home Office and came out with the words “come with me.” That was the beginning of my journey as an asylum seeker.
P.S. To be continued… And! Which of these options would you choose?