Portugal – The terror of war told by a young refugee

12 April 2022

(ANS - Lisboa) - Miraslava Polovko is a Ukrainian girl like many others who, because of the war that broke out in her country, had to leave it in a hurry and flee abroad. Having lived her childhood and adolescence in Portugal, she told the collaborators of "Missão Don Bosco", the Salesian Mission Office of Lisbon, in perfect Portuguese, about the anguish, pain, and suffering that have been affecting her people for almost 50 days.

Mira, as she prefers to be called, had returned with her family to her homeland in 2012. And she remembers the 24th of February 2022 well, the day that “turned everyone's life upside down, no matter if you are rich or poor. I never thought something like this would happen... In the 21st century, having to flee your country, and not just having to do it as quickly as possible,” she says.

Of the day of the escape, she remembers the fear and disorientation, as well as the sorrow she had to give her little brother. “It was a morning that I remember with chills, we were all full of stress, nervous and worried,” continues the young woman. “At that moment I didn't know what to do. I was running around not knowing, myself, where to start. One thing I had clear, that the most important thing was to get the documents. Then I calmed down and started to pack. I put some things for myself and some for my brother Alexandre, 8 years old. And I remember how insistently he asked me to get some toys, but I, with the stress I was under at the time, to everything he asked me, I replied, 'No, Alexandre, no! We have to hurry!'".

As he put things in his suitcase, the tears kept coming. And even more difficult was saying goodbye to family members who couldn't leave Ukraine. “The last kisses and hugs given to my grandparents make me cry every time I think about it,” she says, regretting not knowing when she will see them again and if she will see them alive.

Now her little brother Alexandre and her mother have returned to Portugal, while she has taken refuge in Prague. Her father, on the other hand, had to stay behind to serve his country in this time of war.

In the midst of suffering, the only comfort for Mira for the other family members abroad is that they are safe. “Yes, today we are far from our country, but also from the terror there... Every day the situation is more terrible: children, babies, pregnant women, and the rest of the population are dying. People who simply wanted to live in peace,” denounces the young woman.

She has not forgotten the welcome and goodwill she received years ago when she arrived in Portugal still a child; indeed, she feels them now stronger than ever. “I made friendships from the first day of school still with me today and I remember that shortly after we arrived I said to my mother, 'Mom, the people of this country are very nice.' ... And now again, because of the war in Ukraine, I feel enormous support again, from lovely people, with huge hearts, who had no obligation to help me and my family. I will never get tired of saying it again, your support and help mean a lot to me.”

Among the people and institutions helping the Ukrainian refugees, there is, in fact, also "Missao Don Bosco", which since the first days after the outbreak of the war has activated its own fundraising campaign. It has already sent several aid packages and is still continuing its fundraising.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

This site also uses third-party cookies to improve user experience and for statistical purposes. By scrolling through this page or by clicking on any of its elements, you consent to the use of cookies. To learn more or to opt out, click "Further Information".