Ukrainian photographer and TikToker Valeria Shashenok (@valerisssh) posted footage of her escape from Ukraine to Warsaw, Poland, in a now-viral video that shows just how complex it is to evacuate one’s home country is during wartime.
In her TikTok posted on March 15, Shashenok shows herself taking a train out of Kyiv and through Lviv to Przemysl, Poland, and waiting for five hours at the border of Poland. After getting into Poland without a passport, the TikToker traveled to Lodz and finally Warsaw via train.
Shashenok is seen receiving food from Ukrainian and Polish volunteers in both countries during the 500-mile journey. “Thanks for supporting my country,” she writes of the Polish volunteers. “It’s the most horrible trip of my life.”
According to the Council on Foreign Relations, approximately 3.5 million Ukrainians have fled the country since Feb. 24, when Russian attacks on the country began.
Shashenok video has been viewed over 16.6 million times. The TikToker has shared more of her experiences as a Ukrainian refugee living in Poland in the past week.
In a video about a shelter for Ukrainian refugees in Poland, Shashenok shows mats that Ukrainians slept on, shared showers, and the food they ate. She also clarified that she doesn’t have any personal documentation with her and that she spent “two weeks in a bomb shelter.” The TikToker’s previous videos show her daily life while living in the shelter.
Her other videos show supplies for Ukrainian refugees in Germany and her journey (through Germany) to Milan where she says she is staying with an Italian family. Perhaps Shashenok’s most poignant video is one that shows her standing in front of ruins in Ukraine.
Comments on Shashenok’s video about evacuating to Poland contributed to the dialogue about the Russo-Ukrainian war: Polish TikTokers offered to help Shashenok in any way they could, and other viewers commented saying that they were happy that Shashenok was out of the bunker and now safe.
A fellow Ukrainian also shared their experience escaping the country.
“I had to walk for 8 hours and then stand in line at the border for 26 [hours,]” @alinchik.blinchik commented. “This war is a horrible thing.”
The Daily Dot has reached out to Shashenok via email.
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