LVIV, Ukraine — In the arched dining hall of a former boarding school in Lviv, Kamila Horbachova and other teenage girls set out dishes as younger children scrambled into seats and then tucked into dinners handed out by the cafeteria staff.
These displaced children from eastern Ukraine — most of whose parents were unable to leave critical jobs like those in hospitals or the military — endured a fraught escape, narrowly missing a Russian bombardment, and fleeing their hometowns to take refuge on the other side of the country.
“I was very worried that we were leaving without our parents, by ourselves,” Kamila, 14, said, adding that when she boarded the train alone, “it was horrible for me.”
Now the children are navigating a strange new reality: They go to school and have movie nights, reclaiming something of a normal childhood, even as they frantically call their parents daily to make sure they are still alive.
“It was just a miracle that we were saved,” said Anna Palova, a soft-spoken 14-year-old with pink hair and manicured nails. “I just want this war to be finished and return home to my parents.”