Finding Refuge in Slovakia: A Ukrainian Mother’s Journey from Chaos to Hope

04 July 2024|JRS Europe

I was on maternity leave with my two-month-old daughter when everything crumbled overnight as war broke out in Ukraine. Fear and chaos engulfed our entire family. My memories of fleeing our homeland are foggy, as if it all happened in a daze. I cried constantly, fearing for my children – my little daughter and my older son.

The journey to Slovakia was arduous. I didn’t know Slovak or English, and my chronic migraines, worsened by stress, were relentless.

Thankfully, we found help at the Family Help Center (FHC) in Trnava, where they provided clothes for my children and me. At this Center, I finally felt a sense of calm. I started attending Slovak language classes and met a wonderful friend from Ukraine. With the help of FHC, I was able to take care of my children’s basic needs and found psychosocial support and friendships with both Ukrainians and Slovaks. We all share a similar fate here and help each other as much as we can.

I still dream that one day we will return to Ukraine, to our home. But for now, it is still too dangerous there. War took my home, but in Slovakia, I found humanity and solidarity. Slovakia has become a refuge for us. Because of that, I believe even the darkest times will eventually end, and we will be able to return to a peaceful and free home.

FHC has become a place where I find strength and hope. I am extremely grateful for the help and support we receive here. It makes us know we are not alone in this difficult situation.

JRS is working together with the Xavier Network, Concordia Moldova, the Society of Jesus in Europe, local civil society, and NGOs in a coordinated Jesuit response. Together we help thousands of people like Kateryna. You can read more about The One Proposal: the coordinated Jesuit response to support the Ukraine Crisis here.


FHC Staff, Lenka Jančovičová

When the refugees constantly hear bad news from home, it’s understandable that they feel depressed and lack the motivation to tackle current problems. While I empathize with their situation, it can be emotionally draining to hear constant negativity. Their sadness and despair can also affect us, the staff who are here to help.

We offer them a helping hand during this difficult time and try to instill hope for the future. Despite their hardships, they need to find the strength to move forward, even if it’s a slow process. Language skills are crucial for their progress and integration.

We work to show them they possess the inner strength to cope with this challenging situation. We accompany them and will continue to offer support for as long as possible.