Jane was living in Ukraine until her life was turned upside down in a single moment. After initially hiding in a bunker, she and her mother made the difficult journey to Italy and found a family to stay with.
In the midst of unrest, Jane tells us how the kindness of the parkrun community has become a constant in their new lives.
I am a Ukrainian woman and I have lived and worked in Kiev for the last seven years. On 24 February, very early in the morning, I was woken up by loud explosions in Kiev. Our world was turned upside down in a single moment.
For the first few days my partner and I stayed in a bunker through the night in the school near our house. We then were told it was also relatively safe to hide in the space between the walls of our houses, so we did that. With every single siren we were hiding and praying.
The area around Kiev became more and more dangerous and I had to flee to western Ukraine. Via a website that connects Ukranians in need with those that can offer temporary housing, I found a family in Italy. They told me that my mother and I could have a safe place to live.
The following days were challenging: a long journey, a new country, a new culture, a new language and a new family. In those confusing and difficult times we were definitely seeking stability and constancy. We found those in more ways than we expected.
Three days after arriving in Italy we were already registered to parkrun and we have been present for every Saturday since. I have walked one and ran the others, my mother was a marshal in one and learned to be a timekeeper which she now does each week! She speaks no Italian, but she is great!
There are so many wonderful people at parkrun – we don’t understand everything they say, but we know that they are kind and want to help us. We are doing our very best to accept everything that is good, useful, kind and to be part of Italian life. parkrun is a very stable constant in our very new and very different lives. We now know how it works, we know what to expect and each week we know people to say hello to, in whatever language!
I appreciate everything we have now, and am very grateful to the parkrun community, to Italians, to so many people in the world who are helping us in so many different ways.
Джейн Доу (Jane Doe)
The parkrun Event Director said:
“After a traumatic journey, Jane Doe and her mother arrived in Italy, to our house. It was a Wednesday. I am a parkrun Event Director and of course for Saturday they were fully signed up and operational with a parkrun in Italy. On her second time to parkrun the mother learnt to be a timekeeper; speaking no Italian and very little English. She rocked it! Her daughter amazed us with her run around our tough course, smiling all the way.
The local parkrun community was amazing – running shoes and clothing arrived (when you leave your country in a hurry running shoes and sports clothes are not a top priority), interest in making them feel involved and welcome was overwhelming. I was so excited by just how many people wanted to help and indeed have helped in different ways.
Each week now our parkrun blackboard, which bears the parkrun number, the date and a unique message for that week, goes up in at least two languages, Italian and Russian (the language the mother and daughter use with each other), and often English too for our tourist friends.”
parkruns are safe spaces for everyone.
If you’re interested in volunteering at parkrun, please contact the local team via their website or their social media channels, or speak to them at the event. Here are some short videos about some of the fun and easy volunteering opportunities available every week:
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