"Back home." Ukranians are coming back to protect their Homeland.
By Nadia Buzhan
"Back home." Ukranians are coming back to protect their Homeland.
By Nadia Buzhan
Photographer Nadia Buzhan was going to Ukranian border to speak with people, who were fleeing from the war.

"Among the pain and despair I saw the joy of meeting the relatives and a relief from getting away from real hell. I've heard many different, but at the same time, similar stories. These people don't want a war. They can't understand why the neighbour came to their home to kill.

Watching the refugees, I didn't notice them at first - people coming in the opposite direction to that of Poland. They passed me quickly, as if being in a hurry. Some of them were walking in groups, some were alone. I realized these people were going to passport control to get to Ukraine. Sometimes these people glanced at the refugees and their eyes met. These people were returning home, despite the war," Nadia speaking.

This is a series of portraits of the Ukrainians, who had a chance to stay safe, but they made a different choice. These are the people for who folding their hands and just observe their country being destroyed is beyond the fear of death. They are the people who have got no fear left.
Nadia Buzhan

Photojournalist from Minsk, Belarus. She graduated from the Institute of Journalism at Belarusian State University in 2014. In her work Buzhan deals with the themes of freedom and religion. Her work has been exhibited at Fotografiska Tallinn in 2020, Aff Galerie in Berlin in 2016, CECH in Minsk in 2014, Belarus Press Photo in 2015 and TUT.BY gallery in Minsk in 2019. Award-winning photographer World Press Photo 2021.

Nadia Buzhan
Photojournalist from Minsk, Belarus. She graduated from the Institute of Journalism at Belarusian State University in 2014. In her work Buzhan deals with the themes of freedom and religion. Her work has been exhibited at Fotografiska Tallinn in 2020, Aff Galerie in Berlin in 2016, CECH in Minsk in 2014, Belarus Press Photo in 2015 and TUT.BY gallery in Minsk in 2019. Award-winning photographer World Press Photo​ 2021​.
Galina
Ivano-Frankovsk, Ukraine
The granddaughter woke up from the explosion at the airport near our city and started crying. It was scary, of course. So I brought my granddaughter to my daughter and I'm returning home to Ukraine. Only a dog is waiting for me at home. I was born in Russia, but my homeland is Ukraine, because I have lived here for more than 40 years. I hate Putin and think that Russian people should demand to stop this insane war. I stay in order to live at home. I'm not afraid. I hope and believe that everything will go fine.
The granddaughter woke up from the explosion at the airport near our city and started crying. It was scary, of course. So I brought my granddaughter to my daughter and I'm returning home to Ukraine. Only a dog is waiting for me at home. I was born in Russia, but my homeland is Ukraine, because I have lived here for more than 40 years. I hate Putin and think that Russian people should demand to stop this insane war. I stay in order to live at home. I'm not afraid. I hope and believe that everything will go fine.
Valery
Dnipro, Kryviy Rih, Ukraine
I work in Poland, but had to return. How not to? I've got everything at home - family, parents, children – I just have to go. There's my river, my bees, my house. I can't just give it away, present to someone. I've been ready to defend my country for 8 years already. Just now the moment came when you need to show your principles. Why am I going when I can be at great risk? But I came home. So, all will go fine. If I could speak to Russians, I would tell them, "Russians, go home, put your things in order in your house to begin with."
I work in Poland, but had to return. How not to? I've got everything at home - family, parents, children – I just have to go. There's my river, my bees, my house. I can't just give it away, present to someone. I've been ready to defend my country for 8 years already. Just now the moment came when you need to show your principles. Why am I going when I can be at great risk? But I came home. So, all will go fine. If I could speak to Russians, I would tell them, "Russians, go home, put your things in order in your house to begin with."
Anastasia and Lubamir
L'viv, Ukraine
Anastasia: Me and my boyfriend were on holiday. We are going home to take my kids and bring them to my mum in Germany. Later we will come back to L'viv. Why? Because it's my homeland and wouldn't flee. Moreover, I'm sure, if now I lose, my daughters will come as adults and ruin the Kremlin. Because the next generation will be much farther from understanding the Soviet rule. To make this happen I have to be honest with myself and this couldn't possibly happen while I'm somewhere out there. I must be with Ukranians during this time, with my friends and relatives. I won't flee, I have nowhere to flee, it's impossible to run away from yourself.

Lubamir: When everything started we immediately left home from Germany. The car journey takes some time, so we stayed overnight in Krakow and arrived now. I feel a duty, because, on the one hand, who else but us will defend our land. On the other hand, I work in a museum, I am a historian and museologist. I am a person, who must preserve the cultural heritage. I consider this to be my main mission in Ukraine.
Anastasia: Me and my boyfriend were on holiday. We are going home to take my kids and bring them to my mum in Germany. Later we will come back to L'viv. Why? Because it's my homeland and wouldn't flee. Moreover, I'm sure, if now I lose, my daughters will come as adults and ruin the Kremlin. Because the next generation will be much farther from understanding the Soviet rule. To make this happen I have to be honest with myself and this couldn't possibly happen while I'm somewhere out there. I must be with Ukranians during this time, with my friends and relatives. I won't flee, I have nowhere to flee, it's impossible to run away from yourself.

Lubamir: When everything started we immediately left home from Germany. The car journey takes some time, so we stayed overnight in Krakow and arrived now. I feel a duty, because, on the one hand, who else but us will defend our land. On the other hand, I work in a museum, I am a historian and museologist. I am a person, who must preserve the cultural heritage. I consider this to be my main mission in Ukraine.
Sergiey
Belaya Tserkov, Ukraine
On February 23, my wife and I flew on vacation to Cyprus. We spent one night there and found out about the events the next morning. We immediately went to the Ukrainian embassy to learn how to get home, as the airspace was closed. We bought tickets for the first flight to Krakow and so we're on the border here, waiting for the train. We surely had some assumptions that this could happen. We have been in a state of permanent war for the last 8 years. I'm already tired of being afraid. But still I didn't expect that it could happen so suddenly. Now we need to defend the country.
On February 23, my wife and I flew on vacation to Cyprus. We spent one night there and found out about the events the next morning. We immediately went to the Ukrainian embassy to learn how to get home, as the airspace was closed. We bought tickets for the first flight to Krakow and so we're on the border here, waiting for the train. We surely had some assumptions that this could happen. We have been in a state of permanent war for the last 8 years. I'm already tired of being afraid. But still I didn't expect that it could happen so suddenly. Now we need to defend the country.
Dzianis
Zalatanosha, Cherkasy region, Ukraine
During recent years I've been working in Poland. I don't know what could be worse than what is happening now in Ukraine to make a person finally get home. You usually come home to rest from all the problems and if there're problems at home, it is very strange why everyone flees instead of standing for it. Right now I was walking to the border, watching how many Ukrainians are fleeing and I had just silence inside, I didn't want to say anything about it. I can imagine the noise, the explosions, the shootings in my country, but I'd rather go there than look at the faces of people who run away.

I haven't got any right to judge people for their choice. It's a personal choice. Just people haven't realized yet that they will have to live with their mistakes. Just as we can understand from our experience that life is running somewhere and life is a big mistake. You grow and the experience grows with you. Therefore, every mistake is an experience. I am ready to accept that children and women need to be protected. If not by ourselves, then at least give them an opportunity to get out of this situation. But I also understand if there will be many people like me, we will be able to defend our intentions. We will put our souls and bodies for our freedom. We'll show we are Cossack brothers. I think these words are always relevant.

My brother served conscription in Zhytomyr and now, immediately after the war broke out, he was ready the next day and volunteered for the army to defend his country. I don't know how even to express my inner state when your little brother and your dad are going to defend the country and you're sitting and watching what happens next. No normal person would ever do that.
During recent years I've been working in Poland. I don't know what could be worse than what is happening now in Ukraine to make a person finally get home. You usually come home to rest from all the problems and if there're problems at home, it is very strange why everyone flees instead of standing for it. Right now I was walking to the border, watching how many Ukrainians are fleeing and I had just silence inside, I didn't want to say anything about it. I can imagine the noise, the explosions, the shootings in my country, but I'd rather go there than look at the faces of people who run away.

I haven't got any right to judge people for their choice. It's a personal choice. Just people haven't realized yet that they will have to live with their mistakes. Just as we can understand from our experience that life is running somewhere and life is a big mistake. You grow and the experience grows with you. Therefore, every mistake is an experience. I am ready to accept that children and women need to be protected. If not by ourselves, then at least give them an opportunity to get out of this situation. But I also understand if there will be many people like me, we will be able to defend our intentions. We will put our souls and bodies for our freedom. We'll show we are Cossack brothers. I think these words are always relevant.

My brother served conscription in Zhytomyr and now, immediately after the war broke out, he was ready the next day and volunteered for the army to defend his country. I don't know how even to express my inner state when your little brother and your dad are going to defend the country and you're sitting and watching what happens next. No normal person would ever do that.
Brothers: Vladimir, Dzmitry and their brother- in – law, Vital
Sinelnikovo, Dnepropetrovsk region, Ukraine
Vladimir: "I came to Poland with my brother and my brother-in-law a month ago to study to become a hauler. The education is over, we had to go home in normal way, now we go because we need to go. All our relatives asked us not to return. They said we have a perfect chance to stay alive. But how can you, if you receive such news from your land every day? You can hide from the war, but die in a car accident. We all walk under God. We need to help with prayer and deeds."

Dzmitry: "We could stay in Poland or Germany, but we just need to go to our relatives, because everyone is there. I won't fight and take up arms. I don't want to kill. As a family, we believe in God, and he says, "Whoever takes the sword will die." But if I need any help, I will do everything in my power to defend. Maybe I can help as a driver, a nurse or even a cook. We are going to our homeland. How to live later if you are safe here and someone can die? What will the life be like if that happens? If we die, then all together."

Vitaly: "We were looking for a job with the opportunity to be always able to return to our homeland, with the opportunity to come and go. The war suddenly caught us while studying there. At home there's a family, children. How can we leave them alone? It's not even patriotic."
Vladimir: "I came to Poland with my brother and my brother-in-law a month ago to study to become a hauler. The education is over, we had to go home in normal way, now we go because we need to go. All our relatives asked us not to return. They said we have a perfect chance to stay alive. But how can you, if you receive such news from your land every day? You can hide from the war, but die in a car accident. We all walk under God. We need to help with prayer and deeds."

Dzmitry: "We could stay in Poland or Germany, but we just need to go to our relatives, because everyone is there. I won't fight and take up arms. I don't want to kill. As a family, we believe in God, and he says, "Whoever takes the sword will die." But if I need any help, I will do everything in my power to defend. Maybe I can help as a driver, a nurse or even a cook. We are going to our homeland. How to live later if you are safe here and someone can die? What will the life be like if that happens? If we die, then all together."

Vitaly: "We were looking for a job with the opportunity to be always able to return to our homeland, with the opportunity to come and go. The war suddenly caught us while studying there. At home there's a family, children. How can we leave them alone? It's not even patriotic."
Aleksander
Cherkasy region, Ukraine
I'm just an ordinary welder. I served the army and in 2015 I defended my country by taking part in anti-terroristic operation. When everything started I took a decision to come back home. Someone must defend our Homeland. My family is there: a son, a daughter, a house and a piece of land. My wife also doesn't want to leave. If my son will decide to join the defence, it will be his decision and I will support him. We, Ukrainian people, love freedom.
I'm just an ordinary welder. I served the army and in 2015 I defended my country by taking part in anti-terroristic operation. When everything started I took a decision to come back home. Someone must defend our Homeland. My family is there: a son, a daughter, a house and a piece of land. My wife also doesn't want to leave. If my son will decide to join the defence, it will be his decision and I will support him. We, Ukrainian people, love freedom.
Andrey
Chernigov region, Ukraine
I've been living in Italy for 15 years and I'm returning to Ukraine from there. My wife and I have been watching what is happening in our country for a long time. There's been such a tension lately that it would be impossible that nothing happens. When she read the news in the morning, she woke me up and said "Andrey, get up, there is a war out there." I knew that if something started, I would come back. Because this is my land, there is my brother there, my father is buried. My mother stays in Italy. And when I said I was going home, at first she didn't understand and was very worried.

But later she accepted my decision and just told me before leaving: "Take care of yourself." After all, she knows she has another son there. To defend means for me to protect the land, not to allow the enemy to move on it. They came to our land to kill us, can you imagine? They came to our land to kill us and they won't stop. I am not a fatalist and I realize I can die, but my feelings overlap everything else.
I've been living in Italy for 15 years and I'm returning to Ukraine from there. My wife and I have been watching what is happening in our country for a long time. There's been such a tension lately that it would be impossible that nothing happens. When she read the news in the morning, she woke me up and said "Andrey, get up, there is a war out there." I knew that if something started, I would come back. Because this is my land, there is my brother there, my father is buried. My mother stays in Italy. And when I said I was going home, at first she didn't understand and was very worried.

But later she accepted my decision and just told me before leaving: "Take care of yourself." After all, she knows she has another son there. To defend means for me to protect the land, not to allow the enemy to move on it. They came to our land to kill us, can you imagine? They came to our land to kill us and they won't stop. I am not a fatalist and I realize I can die, but my feelings overlap everything else.
Vola
Ivano-Frankovsk, Ukraine
In the morning we woke up, because our house was moving. The airport exploded, the warehouses with kerosene and we felt the shock wave. I took out of the country my children and my mum with a broken arm and now I'm coming back, my husband, my dad, my dog is there. It's my country. How are we going to defend? I shoot well.
In the morning we woke up, because our house was moving. The airport exploded, the warehouses with kerosene and we felt the shock wave. I took out of the country my children and my mum with a broken arm and now I'm coming back, my husband, my dad, my dog is there. It's my country. How are we going to defend? I shoot well.