Ira, psychotherapist, 33 years old

Bagajele abandonului

“For me, the war did not start on February 24, 2022, but in 2014. That was when I left my home in Luhansk for Kyiv with my cat, Marquise. That was my first time fleeing from war. I settled in Kyiv, where I started working as a psychotherapist. I have had people in therapy who were war refugees, people like me, who had left their homes. The years have passed and then 2022 was here.

Many people around me didn’t think there would be a war. But I used to tell my family that the Russians would invade Ukraine, I was sure it would happen. And they thought I was panicking for no reason. A lot of tension had built up, I remember watching the news on February 17 or 18 and they were saying about a Ukrainian soldier killed in Luhansk. I realized that I knew him, I had known that soldier since childhood. I cried then and started panicking. And it wasn’t even February 24 yet.

On the night of February 23, I was sitting at home with my cat. That was when I took this picture of her, hours before the invasion began. And then, when I left Ukraine and came here, to Romania, I took Marquise with me, obviously. And now I’m thinking: what a road this cat had to travel, also being forced to leave home twice because of the war!”

Story collected by Ionuț Sociu for the Suitcases of Abandonment campaign. Project funded by CARE through SERA Romania, Care France and FONPC.

Last Day of Peace, First Night of War is an interactive digital installation, part of the Museum of Abandonment, a digital wall of images showing the last days of peace collected from mobile phones.