Iliena Svetlana is a Chef’s Assistant from Mariupol, Ukraine, who arrived in France as a refugee. In the fourth episode of Portraits from the War in Ukraine, Iliena gives her account of the first days of the war, as electricity, gas, and water supplies were cut off.
“My sister and I heard there was some food to be given so we went there. And just then a new shelling began. The children were frying pancakes outside as there was no bread. We collected a bit of flour to cook something. It was panic, everyone ran to the staircase, to the basement, to the entrance, some people were lying down on the ground.”
Despite the trauma of these experiences, and the safe welcome she has found in France, Iliena dreams of going home:
"Everything is good here, but I would like to go back home anyway. Even if I know that everything is destroyed there, and it's not clear how life will be, but I would still like to go back home."
Watch the portrait above, and explore the full series of portraits here.