Vladim’s story

Vladim’s story


I knew I had to leave as soon as the war started. Things had not been looking good and I knew it wasn’t going to get any better. I think I had known since the 2014 war in Crimea, but I did not expect it on such a massive scale.


My name is Vadim, and I was born in 1986 in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine. I lived there all my life and I never had any intention of leaving. Ukraine was a lovely country where everyone was always smiling and happy. It wasn’t perfect, mind, there was a lot of poverty, with I think 40% of the population living below the poverty line. But despite this, people laughed and smiled.  The country was flourishing but now everyone is scared and angry, and I see pain and emptiness in the eyes of my compatriots.


When I was young, about 17, I had an accident. Some boys were bullying another student at school and I tried to stop it. But I was the one who ended up getting hurt. My eye was gouged out and I didn’t have the money to get it treated well. The hospital wanted so much money, but we didn’t have any. I tried very hard and collected the money, but by the time I had the money the hospital said it was too late, and they could not save my eye. So I am registered disabled, and I was allowed to leave Ukraine.


Even with my disability, though, I have always worked, I could not afford to stay at college so I became a brickie – I think that’s what you call it? Anyway I work in construction, mostly laying bricks for buildings.


I got help to get over the Polish border when I left, and then I travelled through Europe. I am in Calais now.


I met Clare from Care4Calais at the Red Cross post in Paris. She was such a compassionate person, I could tell she really wanted to help me when she found out I wanted to go to the UK. So when I was sent to Calais, I got in contact with Care4Calais to help me with my visa. I’m now living in an old people’s residential home until I can find a new home in the UK.


I do not have family there so I need to find a host. I am looking forward to getting a job and living with dignity. I wanted to go to the UK as I think it is much easier to integrate socially there. My parents are divorced, but when the war started they travelled to Germany together.


I really don’t mind where I go. I think the city is good for jobs, but the country would be good for my soul and for my health. So I should probably go to a city but I will be happy just to have a space to live. It’s quite hard to think about the future now when my home is being destroyed. I’m not afraid of work you know! I have always worked in construction, sometimes for months without getting paid.


What was my life like three weeks ago? Just like normal. I listened to my music and read books and watched films. I used to go running with my dog – he was a gorgeous red Labrador called Boss. I love dogs. Sadly he died before the war started.  I think he was poisoned. I would love to get another dog in the UK.


I like the Sherlock Holmes books, but I like the films too – the old ones. Did you know Doyle based the idea of Sherlock on himself? He was also a participant in the Indian campaign and had an addiction to opium and also could not play the violin. Sherlock like to think he could play the violin!


I don’t think I will go back to Ukraine. The war is accelerating this and my country is in ruins. It should never have happened and I don’t know how it will end… Putin will not give up, and it will become like another Yugoslavia. I love Conan Doyle, and as he wrote in his novel Sir Nigel, I will remain.


To volunteer or  to Care4Calais, got to care4calais.org

About Care4Calais

Care4Calais was founded by a group of volunteers with the sole aim of supporting the people of the Calais refugee camps, providing fresh meals, warm clothing, heating and important legal and medical support.

We are not politicians – we are people like you who simply believe that every human has the right to be treated in a fair and dignified way.

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