When news of war broke, Katya got on a plane to help
I am very proud to be a woman. I feel that we, women, can help save the world in these difficult times. We have enormous power to bring to the world beauty and tenderness, care and compassion, mercy and kindness.
We are just born this way; we can feel the pain of others and know how to heal it with a kind word, a hug or an action. We are strong, yet gentle. We know aggression is not the way to solve a problem. We are mothers and care deeply about how to make the world better for our children; we want them to be happy and safe.
In times of war, beautiful feminine qualities shine even brighter. I would like to share with you the story of a Ukrainian woman from Bermuda who chose to make a difference.
My friend, Katya Gorbunova, is originally from one of the most beautiful cities in Ukraine, Lviv. She lives and works in Bermuda now. Six weeks ago, Katya was not dreaming about being courageous; she was planning to get married this June and flew to Miami to buy a wedding dress. After Miami, she had booked a week’s vacation in Nicaragua at a yoga retreat.
When she arrived in Florida, the news broke of the Russian invasion of her home country. Her heart was in turmoil and she immediately decided that she had to help. Katya bought a ticket and flew to Warsaw, Poland the next day.
When the war started, Poland immediately opened its borders to Ukrainian people in their flight to escape the rockets, bombs, and brutal assault of the Russian army. The Poles still remember how Hitler’s Panzer divisions swept through their country with unspeakable violence at the start of the Second World War, and how the rest of Europe just watched from the sidelines.
Now, they are determined to help Ukraine in its own hour of need. There are an estimated 2.3 million Ukrainian refugees who have found safety and support inside Poland’s borders. They are mostly women with children and the elderly. Many of us have seen the heartbreaking scenes of fathers in military uniforms kissing their families goodbye at the train station before sending them to Poland; they cannot know if they will ever see each other again.
Katya told me: “Nina, I had to fly there and help; I couldn’t do otherwise. These poor people I met at the train station in Warsaw were so shocked, frightened, and exhausted! Most of them don’t speak any other languages and have never been abroad.
“They were like lost kids. I had to take their hands and lead them. They said to me that they were hoping they would wake up and it would all be a terrible dream. They couldn’t believe that they lost everything in a matter of days!”
Katya volunteered for two weeks in Warsaw, working 14 hours each day. She helped Ukrainians with documents, tickets, food, hotels, shelters and translation. She tried to reconnect and find lost relatives. She endlessly hugged, talked with and consoled the heartbroken and desperate.
Among all the pain and chaos, a small miracle happened to Katya. On her way to volunteer for yet another long and gruelling day, a dress caught her eye in a store window: it was a lovely wedding dress. It fit her perfectly without alteration as if it were made for her. She will wear it on her wedding day in June, and it will have more meaning to her than anything she could have found on her vacation in Miami.
In each of us women are strengths we can call on to help others. Katya followed her heart, her conscience, her sense of duty and her love of country. She reminds us what it means to act selflessly in a moment when we clearly recognise suffering, and know that there is something we can do to help soothe that pain and try to right what is wrong. Not by talking, not by giving money, but by travelling – no matter how far – to the front lines of injustice to lend a helping hand.
Nina London is a certified wellness coach, Qigong teacher and laughter leader. Her mission is to support and help cancer patients and survivors and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Share your inspirational stories with Nina at www.ninalondon.com and follow her on Instagram @coachninalondon