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Kenyan Studying in Ukraine Narrates Escape From Country After Russia Invasion

Kenyan student Wanjiru Wanjiku was among Kenyans who were caught up in the Ukraine – Russia ugly confrontation. 

Speaking in an interview with Citizen TV, the medical student said she fled Ukraine hours after Russia invaded the country and bombed the Ivano Frankivsk International Airport. 

The attack came as a surprise for Wanjiku who was sure of her safety due to the presence of diplomats from the United States and the United Kingdom.

“On 24th of February I woke up to very many missed calls and I called one of my friends who said his building was bombed and it was shaking. He lived in the Eastern part of Ukraine,” she said. 

Wanjiku invited her friend over to Ivano Frankivsk where she stayed. 

Later that evening, a state of emergency was declared by the Ukrainian government just hours before the city was attacked by Russian soldiers.  

“Someone sends me a video on my phone and I see a missile flying to a building that I know in my city. So I woke up, went to the kitchen where we have the biggest window and I see fire on what looked like our airport,” Wanjiku recalled. 

Following the two incidents, Wanjiku and her friend opted to look for safer areas and took a taxi to the Polish border which was 65 kilometres away from her city. 

However, Wanjiku and her friend witnessed traffic congestion in Lviv forcing them to walk all the way to the border as the taxi driver made his way back to Ivano Frankivsk. 

The journey to the Polish border took 13 hours. 

“You see children on the road, their mums are pushing the stroller with a month or so babies on it and they are crying but the mum gives them a biscuit to bribe them that we are almost there. I was like that’s a white lie but the journey is still long,” she noted. 

Wanjiku and her three friends made it to the Polish border but they faced another hurdle as officials were separating Ukrainians from Africans. 

“The Ukrainian guard wanted the bus to come close to the gate to separate the black people and the Ukrainians

“We saw a queue of Ukrainians entering to the border, getting their documents stamped then a bus picks them then they go to the other Polish side to cross,” she said. 

She was allowed to cross into Poland after officials mistook her for a mother whose baby was crying following a commotion at the border point. 

After successfully crossing the border, Wanjiku was given a humanitarian visa before being rescued and taken in by a Kenyan doctor working in Poland identified as Sarah Mwangi. 

She stayed with the family for 10 days before flying back to the country. 

“Dr Sarah Mwangi, thank you so much. Mungu akubariki na akuongezee, alinilisha, akanipeleka hospitali na akaninunulia kila kitu,” Wanjiku said. 

Wanjiku noted that she would go back to Ukraine once the war is over. 

Watch the interview courtesy of Citizen TV below. 

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