Sadly, it covers the face. It looks like a sack that encloses with a drawstring. Mother’s tears always linger on the corners of their eyes, as if they could barely contain their grief. They hold their children’s hands or touch their hair as if they cannot afford to lose their physical contact. They wear brave faces, but their emotions are depicted in the slope of their shoulders, in their bodies.
Something is missing – laughter, a common language among women.
In schools in Romania and Slovak, Ukrainian mothers told me about the horrors of the bombs that fell overnight as they sought refuge during their journey west. Many had to spend the day without food or sunlight, locked in underground cellars.
I met a young mother in Ozhorod, Ukraine, who told me that when she and her family went out in search of food, Russian soldiers would stand in line waiting for a piece of bread. These Ukrainian mothers were very grateful for the support of the people of Romania and Slovakia. As another mother, Anna, told me, “Our hearts have no boundaries.”
Border guards told me the stories of thousands of people who had entered Slovakia with a few luggage – a desperate sea of humanity, whose lives were changed forever on February 24 – an unjust war that began years ago. But there was a history of further Russian invasion.
Olena Zelenska, the wife of the President of Ukraine, left her children behind and came out to meet me and ask for help for the people of her country. He did not ask me for food, clothing or weapons. He asked me to help him get mental health care for all those affected by Vladimir Putin’s unconscious and brutal war.
He told me about the rape of women and children, and many children who had seen people being shot were burned at the stake. “I want to get home soon,” he told me. “I just want to hold my children’s hand.”
We congratulated each other on Mother’s Day. I told her I was in Ukraine to show Ukrainian mothers that we stand with them, and that I was taking the hearts of the American people with me. “Thank you,” Zelenska replied. “The Ukrainians are very grateful for the support of the American people.”
Mr. Putin, please end this senseless and brutal war.