To Stay or to Leave

In the early days of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, I saw on CNN an interview with two older women in one of the towns being attacked. Both told the interviewer that they had no plans to evacuate, that they would stay where they were. Because they were standing in front of a large apartment complex, I assumed that was their home and that they were widows. They wore the familiar outfits of older Ukrainian women: long, peasant like dresses, sturdy shoes and babushkas on their heads. They looked like the archetypal grandmother: genial but no nonsense, with their feet solidly planted on their homeland.

I’ve read that Ukraine has one of the highest percentages of elderly in the world: In 2018, more than one-fifth of the country’s population were over the age of 60. That means many older Ukrainians are facing a horrible choice: Should they stay in their homes, which could be bombed or controlled by Russians, or should they flee the place they’ve lived most (or all) of their lives for the safety of another country?

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